Ok so. I waffled a little about posting this video, because I wasn’t entirely happy with it, but decided in the end that it was perfectly suitable as an instructional and that it needn’t be much more than that!*** The soup, at any rate, is delicious.
Of all the things that I’ve made repeatedly over the years, this may go the farthest back and is the one that the most people have asked me to show them how to make. I’ve been making this soup since I was in high school, 20 years ago. It has changed little over the years. It may have as little to do with the Aztecs as I do, but that’s what I’ve always called it anyway.
There’s a quick way and a protracted way to go about it. I’ll describe the longer version first.
- A whole chicken
- Poblano peppers
- Ancho chiles
- Fresh tortillas
- Mix of Cheddar and Jack cheese
Make chicken stock. I’ve discussed this in another post, so I won’t go on about it here (except maybe to remind you again to put a bowl under the colander when you strain it so you don’t pour what you’re trying to keep down the drain!!). For this particular soup, you can rehydrate some ancho chiles in the stock as it simmers. This allows you to capture all that nice chile tea! Anchos are great, and with the lime are really the core flavor of this soup. “Ancho” means wide, and is the name they give the dried version of poblano chiles. AHA! Usually in the supermarket poblanos are dark green, but as they mature, they turn red (like bell peppers) and get sweeter. The dried version is not a particularly spicy chile, but is super fruity and flavorful. It sort of tastes like apricots.
Roast poblano peppers over open flame, turning them now and then. The goal is to char/blister the skin. Do this HOT. The cooler you do it, the more you cook the chile pepper before blistering the skin, and I happen to like my roasted chiles to still have a little resistance to them, especially if they’re going into a soup. Once they’re charred, place them in a plastic bag and let them rest. They’ll sweat in there like a little chile sauna, and by the time they’ve cooled, the skins will come off easily. Peel them, core them, remove the seeds, cut them into ribbons and reserve.
Juice some limes. Lots!
Make some tortilla chips. Hot oil. A wok works well to give you a little depth without having to use TOO much oil. Work in batches, and if you have a weak stove, allow the oil to get back up to temp between those batches. Making your own is SO much better than buying the bagged kind. Homemade ones are thicker and have a completely different texture. They hold up MUCH better in soup, too. When you pull them out of the oil, let them drain on some brown paper, and immediately salt them!!
Slice onions. Slice the hydrated ancho chiles. Dice some garlic.
Put a nice big heavy soup pot on the stove, and warm it up over medium heat. Coat the bottom with oil. Drop in the garlic and the chiles. Let these simmer and infuse the oil for a moment, then add a good amount of ground cumin. The cumin is super absorbent, and may gum up the works if you haven’t got enough oil in the pot.. no problem! Add a little more. Eventually add the onions, and saute the whole mix. Once the onions are starting to go a little translucent and have taken on the red of the chiles, add the chicken, and stir to coat. Add chicken stock to cover. Allow this to sit over very low heat for half an hour or so. Just let it steep. When you’re ready to eat, add the roasted poblanos and lime juice.
Serve it however you like! I like to fill a bowl with torilla chips and cheese, and just ladle the soup over the top. A little cilantro and, TA DA!
- If they’re in season, it is delicious to add slices of avocado at the last moment. Use one on the slightly firm side of ripe and it’ll hold up in there beautifully.
- As described here, this isn’t a super spicy soup! Anchos and poblanos are both very mild. Feel free to spice it up with the addition of some hotter chiles, fresh or dried.
- The quick version mentioned above is to skip the process of making stock. If you use decent store bought stock, and the meat from a rotisserie chicken, you can make this soup in about 20 minutes flat, and it’s still awfully good!
***Those of you still reading are total champs. I’m experimenting with this whole directions for cooking thing. Soon I will be writing a proper diatribe against the “recipe.” I hate the word, and I’ll try to convince you to hate it too. In the mean time, I’m liking this idea of a visual aid.. Not a proper instructional video with spoken directions and etc, but instead something that captures the spirit of the thing a little. I feel that a supa fast video (could also be a bunch of stills, but they’d take up too much room!), along with some written instructions could be a working combination. Please let me know if it works for you.. or, at the very least is entertaining!