Friday, July 13, 2012

Mushroom-Studded Tortilla Soup with Chipotle Chiles & Goat Cheese

Dear Lauren,

Here's a couple of my favorite things about Dad.

1) When we go to sleep at night and there's a huge thunderstorm, he doesn't mind if I leave the shades open so I can watch the lightning. Even though he has a hard time sleeping when there's any light.

2) He tells me what he really thinks about what I cook. So if he says he really loves it, he does.

I have to say this soup is not one I made thinking of Dad. I was actually thinking of you. But he loved it. Thought it was amazing. I did too.

This is not the soup. :-)
This is what I had for breakfast. An egg on a corn tortilla and some cherry tomatoes from Dad's garden. It was delicious.

These are Rick Bayless' list of ingredients for this recipe. I changed it up some. You might wonder why since he is a James Beard Award winner and I am...not. I just wanted to. It's fine to do it. You should change things up too.

Here is what I did. I chopped one onion and smacked the garlic with my hand and the flat side of my chef knife. Almost like a karate chop. Knocks the papery skin right off it. Then I put the scraps in my Veg Scraps bag in the freezer. You do it too! Then you can make Vegetable Stock

Cut the tortillas in half and then cut them in 1/4-inch strips.

Cook your onions and garlic til they look like this.

Rick says to chop your tomatoes before putting them in the blender. I didn't. He said to press all the oil out of the onion and garlic before putting them in the blender. I found this step slightly difficult and since I was just going to put the blender contents right back in this pan, I didn't see the necessity of being too careful about this step.

This is what the tomato, onion, garlic puree looks like right out of the blender.

This is what you want it to look like once you've cooked it and stirred it for about 10 minutes. Similar to tomato paste. This is an important step. It really makes the soup so full of flavor.

Here's my chicken stock. I made it! Just took it out of the freezer! I needed 6 cups for the recipe and since I froze it in 2-cup increments, it was simple. Today I decided to use 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of vegetable. You could use all chicken like Rick Bayless wants you to or you could use all vegetable. It's up to you. I chose the mixture I did because I had more vegetable stock in the freezer than chicken.

Here are the tortilla strips. They're ready to go in the oven.

Here is the soup after I added the stock and the mushrooms and bought it to a boil. Now I'll turn the heat down to medium low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. I think you'll find when you see that direction in a recipe - simmer for 30 minutes - you will say to yourself, I can't wait to make this recipe! This means I get to rest for 30 minutes in the middle of cooking! It's a gift, you'll see. Take it.

Serving the soup requires some layering of ingredients at the last minute. It builds anticipation, let me tell you! First you add the goat cheese to the bowl. 

Then a few strips of seeded chipotle pepper.

Some cubed avocado. Do you know how to do this quickly? Cut your avocado in half and strike the pit with the sharp edge of your knife and rotate. It will come right out. Then run your knife horizontally and vertically with the flesh still inside the avocado. Be careful not to cut through the peel. Then take a large spoon and scoop the flesh out. It's instantly cubed!

Add some chopped cilantro. You can never add too much. Double it, triple it! So delicious!

Ladle in the soup. Restrain yourself, we're almost done.

Put a handful of the crispy tortilla strips on top and serve. It's amazing. You won't believe the flavor with the few ingredients this involves.

Mushroom-Studded Tortilla Soup with Chipotle Chiles and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Rick Bayless's recipe in his book, Mexico One Plate at a Time

Serves 4

1 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little oil to spray or brush on the tortillas
4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
One 15 ounce good-quality whole tomatoes in juice, drained OR 12 ounces (2 medium small round or 4 to  6 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored (if you need instructions on how to get the peel off tomatoes, look here
6 cups good chicken or vegetable stock or a combination of the two
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
6 corn tortillas
2 to 3 canned chipotle chiles en adobo, removed from the canning sauce, seeded and sliced thin
4 ounces goat cheese, divided into the bowls you serve the soup in
1 large ripe avocado, cubed
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat the pan over medium heat until hot and then add the oil. When the oil shimmers, it won't take long, add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer the garlic and onion to the blender; set the pan aside.  Add the tomatoes to the garlic and onion and process to a smooth puree. 

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until it has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and sliced mushrooms and bring to a boil, then partially cover and gently simmer over medium-low to low (this depends on your stove top) heat for 30 minutes. Tast and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon, depending on the saltiness of your broth.

While the soup is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch strips. Spray or lightly brush with oil and toss to coat evenly and spread out the tortilla strips in a single layer on two baking sheets. Don't crowd them. Set in the oven and bake, stirring around every couple of minutes or so, until lightly browned and crispy, about 8-10 minutes.

In each soup bowl, place an equal portion of the cheese and cubed avocade, a generous amount of cilantro and a few strips of chipotle. Ladle the broth into the bowls, top each with a little handful of crispy tortilla strips and you're ready to eat. 

You can make the soup broth up to several days ahead if you like. The flavor will only get better with time. The garnishes must all be made just shortly before serving.


P.S. Did you notice the towel under the soup in the last few photos. I found out about these gems from my cooking group friends. They're less than a dollar and they work so well! Don't get me wrong, I love all my Williams-Sonoma dish towels too. But I'll definitely buy more of these flour sack towels.

P.P.S. My friend Linda Mire sent me Rick Bayless' Mexico One Plate at a Time. She'd bought it for herself but didn't connect with it. I'm so glad she didn't! And that she sent it on to me! This was such a thoughtful idea on her part! I'm going to go through my cookbooks and try to do the same!


  1. This soup looks freaking dee-licious !!

    1. It is! It REALLY is! And it's quick and it's easy and it's so flavorful for the few ingredients it has. And I'm about to have it for lunch!