So if you ever needed proof that I’m not a food snob, here it is.  This Tortilla Soup recipe is ripped right out of a trashy People magazine that I bought for a flight (it’s my guilty travel pleasure!).  Looked yummy enough despite it’s non-chef celebrity roots so I decided to give it a try and boy am I glad that I did.  That Eva Longoria knows her Tortilla Soup!  I guess this shouldn’t be surprising since it’s her signature dish at her Hollywood restaurant, Beso.  But still, I was surprised at how super yummy and authentic tasting this was…better than many that I’ve had at restaurants which is always satisfying when it’s homemade.

A few adaptations that I made to the recipe below are as follows:

  • This recipe makes a lot so you might want to halve it
  • Instead of iceberg lettuce, I used sliced up red cabbage.  I pretty much put cabbage in everything Mexican inspired (fish tacos, Posole, etc….) and it’s never steered me wrong.  Red or green would do and I think it stays crunchier in soup than lettuce would
  • I used dried New Mexican Chiles (2) and dried Chipotle Chiles (1) because that’s all I could find and it worked great!  If you substitute peppers just make sure to check the heat factor so you adjust the # accordingly
  • I took my corn tortillas, cut them in strips and tossed them with olive oil, salt and taco seasoning and then just baked themin the oven on tinfoil at high heat instead of frying them.  Less mess and a bit healthier.
  • If you can’t find Queso Fresco shredding a bit of sharp white cheddar or pepper jack would also work.

Also – beware, the shredding of the chicken is what takes the longest (it’s a good “boyfriend” job while watching a game on t.v. in my household!), but it’s pretty easy…just have to make your way through a lot of chicken.  And don’t skimp and get boneless chicken…cooking it on the bone and then shredding it makes it taste authentic and hearty.  Enjoy!

Go Ahead…Try It!

Serves 14-16

4 lbs. chicken legs
4 lbs. chicken thighs
12 cups chicken broth or cold water
4 dried pasilla chiles
4 dried ancho chiles
6 tomatoes, chopped
1 large white onion, diced
6 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
2 large bunches fresh cilantro, leaves chopped
1 cup vegetable oil, plus more if needed
36 white or yellow corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4-in.-thick strips
1 head iceberg lettuce, cored and shredded
6 large avocados, pitted, peeled and diced
3 cups grated or crumbled queso fresco (about 12 oz.)

In a large stockpot, bring chicken and broth to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from pot and, after it cools, shred the meat. Set aside the stockpot of broth for later use.

Place chiles in a medium saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chiles are soft, about 10 minutes. Drain the chiles and remove the seeds, stems and veins.

Place the chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth, adding a 1/2 cup of the reserved broth if mixture is too thick.

Stir the chile puree and half of the cilantro into the broth. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Add salt if needed. Stir in the chicken and the remaining cilantro. Remove the pot from heat.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add a handful or two of tortilla strips, and fry until lightly browned around the edges, about 45 seconds. Transfer the strips to paper towels to drain.

Place a few tortilla strips and a scoop of lettuce in each bowl. Add soup, and top with avocado and a sprinkle of queso. Serve with a nice Mexican beer and enjoy!