Sopa de Tortilla
3 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 pound ripe tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup roughly chopped white onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 sprig fresh parsley
12 corn tortillas, cut into 1- to 2-inch strips
1 ancho or pasilla chile, stemmed, seeded, cut into 1-inch strips and quickly fried (optional, for garnish)
Vegetable oil, for frying
8 ounces queso fresco, diced
1/2 cup Mexican-style cream, crème fraiche or sour cream
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, meat scooped out and diced
Set a comal or skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, toast the guajillo chiles for about a minute per side.
In a medium saucepan, place the toasted guajillos, tomatoes, and garlic clove and cover with water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer anywhere from 12 to 15 minutes, until tomatoes are fully cooked and mushy, and the guajillos have rehydrated and plumped up.
Place the guajillos, tomatoes, garlic and onion in a blender, along with 1 cup of the simmering liquid and salt. Puree until completely smooth.
In a large soup pot, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, but not smoking, pour in the tomato puree. It will sizzle, make noise and smoke. Partially cover with a lid, if you need to. Let the puree cook, season and thicken, changing from a bright red to a darker red and thicker consistency, for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour in the chicken broth, add the parsley sprig and once it comes to a simmer, continue simmering for another 10 minutes. Before serving, remove the parsley sprig.
To prepare the garnishes: Fry or bake the tortilla strips. Flash fry the ancho or pasilla chile strips, literally 5 seconds in already hot oil in a skillet set over medium heat, drain in a paper towel.
Serve in soup bowls. Add a handful of tortilla crisps, and let people decide how much cream, queso fresco, chile crisps and avocado to add to their bowls. Or, if you don’t want to give anyone a choice, place all the garnishes in the soup plates, and pour the hot soup into the bowls at the table.
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GUAJILLO CHILE SALSA
Salsa de Chile Guajillo
Makes about 2 cups
3 guajillo chiles, about 1 oz, stemmed and seeded
1 lb roma tomatoes, or about 4 or 5 tomatoes
1 garlic clove, peeled
¼ cup white onion, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
1 tbsp safflower or corn oil
Toast guajillo chiles for about 20 seconds per side over an already hot pan or comal set over medium low heat. Be careful not to burn them or they will taste bitter.
Place toasted chiles, tomatoes and garlic in a pan covered with hot water and simmer for about 10 minutes until the guajillos are softened and tomatoes are cooked through. Place the chiles, tomatoes and garlic in the blender with about ½ cup of the cooking liquid, the onion, oregano, cumin and salt and puree until smooth. Strain the sauce.
Heat oil in a sauce pan set over medium high heat. Once hot, pour in the sauce, careful because it will jump a bit, and simmer for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and seasons. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Once cooled down, the sauce may be refrigerated for a couple weeks.
Quesadillas–the perfect marriage of heaven and earth, where the basic, simple tortilla meets the ecstasy of cheese. If you can find the right cheese, that is… So, where do you find great Mexican cheeses in the US? If you can’t find Oaxaca Cheese or Manchego, what can you use instead? What about Monterey Jack or Cheddar as a substitute?
In this episode I interview the fabulous Joe Yonan (who just came out with an equally fabulous cookbook!), who gives us a lot of cheesy advise.
Would it shock you to know that you don’t technically need to stuff cheese inside for it to qualify as an authentic Mexican quesadilla?
The Guajillo chile is one of the most commonly used Mexican dried chiles, and it is now widely available in the United States. It is long and pointy, with a beautiful maroon color. Its skin is quite smooth and shinny on the outside, but it is hard and tougher and less pliable than others, like the Ancho.
It has a pleasant and deep flavor, with mild heat. It tends to be a crowd pleaser.
Continue reading Guajillo Chile