Tag Archives: Cumin

Braised Moroccan Eggplant

Many older recipes call for salting raw eggplant before cooking it to temper the vegetable’s tendency toward bitterness. These days the bitterness has largely been bred out, but salting eggplant is still a good way to reduce the amount of oil that this versatile vegetable absorbs. For even more aroma and herbaceous flavor, add fresh mint and cilantro leaves to the basil for garnish.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 Japanese eggplant or other small, oblong eggplant, about 1 lb.
Kosher salt, to taste
One can (14 oz) whole plum tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
2 tablespoons minced preserved lemon peel

Directions:
Trim the eggplant and cut into halves or thick slices. Put the eggplant into a colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and toss to coat evenly. Set the colander in a sink and let the eggplant stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour the tomatoes and their juices into a bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hand or a potato masher. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil and garlic, swirling the pan to flavor the oil, until the garlic starts to sizzle but does not color, about 1 minute. Add the salted eggplant and stir until well coated. Pour in 1/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the eggplant is tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover and gently stir in the tomatoes, cumin, paprika and coriander. Increase the heat to medium-high and let cook at a brisk simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until the tomatoes thicken, about 10 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and discard the garlic, if desired. Transfer the eggplant to a serving dish and sprinkle with the basil leaves and the preserved lemon. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cuban Chicken Soup with Plantain Dumplings

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Recipe adapted from the cookbook
Cuba! Recipes and Stories from the Cuban Kitchen
by Dan Goldberg, Andrea Kuhn and Jody Eddy
2016

The winter doldrums continue and there is nothing more perfect than a comforting bowl of chicken soup to warm your soul.

But wait!

This is not your grandmother’s chicken soup and dumpling recipe, unless you’re fortunate enough to have a Cuban grandmother. With its long simmering time and the addition of calabaza, a tiny orange-and-white squash, this is a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly day. The additional of Bijol, a traditional Cuban blend of ground achiote, cumin and corn flour, infuses the soup with a pleasant yellow color, but if you don’t have a Latin specialty market in the neighborhood, a pinch of turmeric makes a good substitute. The plantain dumplings are a lovely combination of sweet and savory, but they do not hold well. If you have leftover soup, the dumplings will completely disintegrate overnight. If you are not planning to eat all the soup in one dinner serving, add only enough dumplings to suit your hunger pangs, then freeze the soup without dumplings and whip them up whenever you are ready to dive into the leftovers.

And like every recipe, this soup has many variations throughout the Caribbean and Latin America. In Ecuador it is known as Caldo de Bolas and in Columbia, it is called  Sopa de Pollo y Platano Verde. Where as in Puerto Rico it takes on the name  Sopa De Pollo con Mofongo which is considered the Puerto Rican version of Matzah Ball Soup. Imagine that!

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
For the Soup:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts*
1 yellow onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups calabaza squash, cut into 1-inch dice
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Bijol (optional)*
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

For the plantain dumplings:
2 ripe plantains, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup rice flour

Directions:
In a large pot over high heat, combine the chicken, onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool slightly. Using 2 fork, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces. Return the chicken to the pot and add the squash, tomatoes, cumin cinnamon and Bijol. Simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, make the dumplings: Place the plantains in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 teaspoons water and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave until very soft, about 2 minutes. (If you don’t have a microwave, place the plantains in a fry pan with 1/3 cup  water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat until the plantains are soft, 12 to 15 minutes. NOTE: Do not use any more water than this or  the plantain’s sweetness will leach out into the water. Sprinkle the plantains with the salt and pepper and mash them with a fork until smooth. Add  egg, cornmeal and rice flour to the plantain mixture until a combined. Roll the mashed plantain into smooth balls about 1 inch in diameter.

Drop the plantain dumplings into the soup and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the soup from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the parsley. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.

*Cook’s Notes:
Six to seven bone-in chicken thighs can be substituted for the chicken breast if you like more flavor to the soup.

If Bijol or tumeric are not readily available, Goya Sazon Culantro y Achiote® seasoning is available in most major supermarkets and grocery stores. With its combination of garlic, cumin, coriander seed, it can be the perfect seasoning for this soup, also giving a vibrant red orange color that is visually appealing.

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White Chicken Chili with Tomato Salsa

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Eating healthy is a must for every one. And here is a diabetic recipe that hits the spot when you have a taste for lean protein and vegetables.Leftover of rotisserie chicken and canned chicken broth can speed up the times you spend making this amazing chili. Serve it with a dollop of salsa and sprinkle of shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese. The salsa is great with chicken or fish, too.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
One 29-ounce can Goya Small White Beans, rinsed and drained (divided use)
4 cups fat-free low sodium chicken broth (divided use)
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
2 Jalepeno chilies, seeded and diced
One 8-oz can whole kernel corn, drained
1 ½ cups cooked , chopped, skinless chicken breast
1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 small red onion, chopped

Ingredients:
In a large Dutch oven, sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly.

In a blender or food processor, blend 1 cup of the beans and 1 cup broth until smooth. Add to the Dutch oven, the remaining the beans, 3 cups broth, chili powder, cumin, oregano, chilies, corn and chicken. Gently stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and red onion to make the salsa topping. Top individual bowls with 2 tablespoons salsa and serve immediately.

Refrigerate remaining salsa for another use.

Cook’s Notes:
If you are in a rush, you can always use a  commercially prepared rotisserie chicken that can be found in the deli hot section of your local grocery store or supermarket.

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Jerk Chicken with Coconut Saffron Rice and Black Beans

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The best jerk recipe I have ever tasted, delighted the senses, as it was fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once.The original recipe was developed by Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has sampled jerk from just about every corner of the island. Making a few adjustments, I added  fresh ginger, dark brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to the marinade. For best results and maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

As side dishes goes, this saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you are in a hurry. Another added bonus is that is one of those rare dishes that gluten free and vegan. However, if you are allergic to coconut milk, soy milk is a suitable substitute.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2-3 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, chopped (or Habaneros)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered

For the Saffron Coconut Rice and Beans:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon plain water,at room temperature
2 cups uncooked white basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
One 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Lime wedges, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Latex gloves for handling the chilis and massaging the marinade under the chicken skin.

Directions:
For the chicken start preparing it a day or two ahead of actual cooking.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Put on latex gloves and pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Slather the marinade all over chicken, including under skin, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice, before proceeding.

Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates.Light a grill and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300°F. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (See Cook’s Notes) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 35 to 45 minutes.

Uncover the grill. The chicken will be golden and mahogany in some spots. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal as needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the rice.

In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the water, at room temperature, for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.Gently stir in the coconut milk, water, saffron mixture, agave or sugar, turmeric, cumin taking care as the oil will splatter. Season with salt, and gently stir, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.

Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk does not burn. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Stir in the black beans and cook for a few minutes more until hot. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter.Garnish with lime wedges and serve with the rice.

Cook’s Notes:
Pimento wood sticks and chips are available at www.pimentowood.com.

Alternatively you bake the chicken in the oven if a grill is not readily available.After marinating and you are ready to cook the chicken, heat oven to 350°F and bake chicken for 45-55 minutes, until done.

Also, if time is of the essence, you can first bake the chicken at 300°F in the oven then finished off on the grill. This will result in crispy skin, with perfect texture and flavor.

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Thank you so much!

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Crustless Ham, Potato & Spinach Quiche

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Adapted from Shannah Coe
My Suburban Kitchen
October 2017

A perfectly protein packed dish that can be served  any time of the day that you desire.  Serve for breakfast, brunch or even for  a light dinner with a mixed  greens side salad.  It is fast and easy to prepare and so delicious!

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients:
8 ounces cooked ham, diced
6 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 package of commercially prepared refrigerated Southwestern shredded potatoes
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 small red onion, diced
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375° F.  Lightly grease a 9- inch pie pan and line  with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add in ham, cream chili powder, curry powder and cumin. Stir in potatoes and 3/4 cup cheese. Stir in spinach, bell pepper and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into prepared pan. Top with remaining cheese.

Cover with foil and bake in the  preheated oven for 25 minutes. Increase heat to
400°F, remove foil and bake for an additional 10- 15 minutes or until the middle of  the quiche is set.

Cook’s Notes:
You can easily use Swiss cheese to replace the Gruyere and use kale in place of the spinach. Any type of commercially prepared shredded potatoes can also take the place of the Southwestern  seasoned version. The combination of the mild spices from the Southwestern potatoes give and extra punch of flavor to the fresh spinach used in this dish.

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Stove-top Pork Ribs

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Today, we are presenting our Stove top braised pork ribs in a soy sauce and balsamic vinegar reduction…..

Need we say more?

As you know, ribs are one of the most popular foods in the entire world, yet most people still have difficulty making them at home. Here is a foolproof braising technique that does not require any special equipment, just one pot and your stove top!

By cooking your ribs in a cooking liquid  we can guarantee that you will have a moist, tender and extremely flavorful rib. Perfectly salted with soy sauce and totally herbaceous, with taste of fresh lime to add zip to every bite. You do not have to grill your ribs over hot coals or smother them in barbecue sauce, for an authentic foodie experience and this recipe proves it just fine!

 

Adapted From
by Michael Bednarz
shared.com
May 11, 2017

Serves 4

Ingredients:
10 pork spareribs
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
10 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons granulated onion powder
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
3-4 sprigs fresh oregano
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 chicken bullion cube
Kosher salt, to taste*
ground black pepper to taste
2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
3-4 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, for garnish

Directions:
Place the spareribs into a large pot, and fill with just enough water to cover. Add the cup soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, granulated white sugar, garlic, cumin, onion powder, fresh oregano,thyme, bay leaves, lime juice, red wine vinegar,chicken bullion cube and salt and pepper,to taste. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered over medium heat until the water has completely evaporated, about 45 minutes to an hour.

When all of the water has evaporated, remove the bay leaves, and allow meat to brown, turning occasionally using tongs. Use a spatula to scrape up browned bits and softened garlic from the bottom of the pot, and toss them with the pork. The garlic will dissolve into the meat.

Remove the meat, and drain on paper towels. Season with black pepper and garnish with lime wedges and chives.

Cook’s Notes:
Depending on the brand of soy sauce that you will use, you can completely eliminate the use of salt in this recipe if desired.

Dark soy sauce is one of the two types of soy sauce used most often in Chinese cooking. The light variety of soy sauce tends to be the other one used in Asian cuisine.

Dark soy sauce is aged for longer periods of time and usually contain molasses or caramel and a bit of cornstarch added, making it s thicker and darker in color than light soy sauce. Also note that dark soy sauce varieties tend to have a high sodium content, although not as high as light soy sauce. Because it tends to be a more full-bodied flavor, dark soy sauce is frequently added to marinades and sauces to add color and flavor to a dish.

Although dark soy sauce is used primarily in cooking, as it needs heating to bring out its full flavor, you will also sometimes find it in dipping sauce recipes.

To see how this recipe was originally made, see the video from shared.com in the video below:

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Coconut Braised Chicken

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To be perfectly honest, I truly enjoyed cooking this dish in my new Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Round Dutch Oven, just as much as eating the most delicious braised chicken I have had in a while. This perfectly braised fragrant chicken stew is a cultural transformation of Asian, Central and South American ingredients—coconut, cumin, Mexican chorizo, cilantro and lime.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 whole chicken legs
3 chicken thighs
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 pound fresh Mexican chorizo
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 dried chile de árbol, broken in half
1 Tablespoon Madras curry powder
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 pound baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus sprigs
7 coffee beans, finely crushed (1/2 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425° F. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, brown the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the chicken to a large plate. Add the chorizo and onion to the casserole 
and cook, stirring to break up the meat, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ginger, garlic and chile and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the coconut milk, potatoes, curry powder and  chicken to the casserole and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise in the oven for about 1 hour, until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the lime juice and butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. 


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To make the gremolata,  In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients and mix well.


Spoon the braised chicken and potatoes into shallow bowls. Garnish with the gremolata 
and cilantro sprigs and serve with lime wedges.

Cook’s Notes:

This dish taste better the next day. The braised chicken can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Baked Empanadas

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Who doesn’t love Empanadas….the delicious little turnover pastries that ca be stuffed with vegetables, savory meats, cheeses, sweet jellies, jams or anything else that a true foodie desires. Another great filling for empanadas can be leftover meatloaf, a spaghetti meat sauce, mashed potatoes and cheese, or even spinach and bacon, for a twist.

Just about every Latin country has a version of empanadas with variations of dough and fillings. Some are fried and some are baked.

Lately, I have been looking for more healthy alternatives for my for some of my favorite foods.

The recipe presented here, are made with ground turkey and a homemade dough infused with ground annatto seeds for color and for taste.

But if you are short on time, Goya now makes a line of empanada discs, both plain and annatto flavored. They can be found in the frozen section in most local grocery stores. If they are not available, make sure to inquire with the manager at your local supermarket to see if they can be ordered for you.


Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:
Empanada Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 Tablespoon ground annatto seed (optional if you want reddish orange dough)
Pinch salt
1/2 cup lard or vegetable shortening
1 egg
3/4 cup chicken stock


Empanada Filling:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1-1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 large chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 Tablespoons cilantro
4 ounces tomato sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Vegetable Spray
Egg wash


Directions:

For the empanada dough:
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar , annatto,and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the lard with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and then whisk in the stock. Add the egg mixture
to the flour mixture and knead until a dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 30
minutes.

Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out 4-, 5- or 6-inch rounds, depending on how large you prefer.Layer cut sheets of wax paper between each disc before you stack them, then wrap and set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Meat Filling:
Heat olive oil on medium heat until shimmering in large cast iron skillet. Add the ground turkey and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces. When meat is no longer pink, drain all liquid from pan.

Add the onion, garlic, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, jalapeno,tomato,cilantro and cumin to the skillet.Add tomato sauce and mix well into the meat and vegetable mixture. Reduce heat and simmer covered about 15 to 20 minutes. The mixture should be moist but not dripping wet. Set aside until you are ready to fill the empanadas.

To make the empanadas
:
Add about 1 tablespoon of the meat filling to each empanada and fold the dough over in half to enclose the filling. Using your fingers, crimp the edges or use a fork to press and seal the edges closed. You can refrigerate the uncooked empanadas for up to 3 hours.

To cook the empandas:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and lightly spray with vegetable cooking spray.

Gently transfer each empanada onto the cookie sheet and lightly brush the top of the empanada with egg wash. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Allow to cool before eating, the filling will be extremely hot.

Cook’s Note:
Goya makes empanada disks and can be used instead of making your own dough if you are pressed for time.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

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The origins of tortilla soup may be a mystery, but its intriguing  roasted flavors has long made it a favorite soup in my seasonal menu rotation.

Throughout my travels in Central America, I discovered that tortilla soup it’s self is not as ubiquitous throughout Mexico. The soup appears to have originated from  the home kitchens found in the very the center, around Mexico City.

As with any dish, there are a million and one ways to prepare it. Stock, meat, vegetables and spices vary according to region and period. The common thread for all recipes is the inclusion of crisp tortillas, Tortillas provide the grain component, commonly found in soups throughout the world. European soup grain equivalents are pasta, rice, barley, and dumplings. Food historians generally tell us soup is ancient. It is consumed by all segments of society. Recipes have been shared, imported, adopted and adapted whenever peoples of divergent cuisines meet. This explains why many of the ingredients listed in traditional Mexican Tortilla Soup are from the Old World. Tortillas are generally the most common food found throughout Central America.Except for the tomatoes, the other ingredients chicken, beef, onions, oil, spinach, salt, pepper and cheese are “Old World” foods introduced to Mexico by Spanish settlers. The use of tortillas, in this soup recipe, more likely descends from European practice of adding crisped bread to soup (think croutons & crackers) rather than ancient Mayan/Aztec  food customs.

The best guess any one can estimate the arrival of tortilla soup in the Unties States in or around  southern California, probably points to  Encarnacion Pinedo’s 1898 California cookbook “El Cocinero Espanol“. A version of the  dish also appears in “Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes,” first  published by Elena Zelayeta (1893-1974)  in San Francisco in 1944.

Most Americans became familiar with the dish after dining at Zona Rosa, a popular nightlife and restaurant district in Mexico City. Fonda El Refugio started serving authentic interior and coastal Mexican cooking to tourists in the 1960s.

In Southern California, tortilla soup has been in seasonal rotation on the Cafe Verde menu at the  Ojai Valley Inn & Spa since  longer

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, 2015
Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, 2015

than anyone on the staff can remember. And  the soup started to appear in haute versions in other restaurants in the 1980s, when regional Southwestern flavors were championed by chefs such as John Sedlar.

As  the recipes evolved with time, Tortilla Soup, has come to be composed of  a tomato and chicken-broth based recipe topped with tortillas, is more closely aligned with authentic Mexican cuisine.

Although some will argue that authentic tortilla soup possesses certain characteristics, there’s no wrong way to make it. At its most fundamental, tortilla soup. Cooks may add what they wish-from bits of chicken and avocado to elegant squash blossoms and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Some purists insist that epazote, a Mexican herb, also is an essential ingredient.

Mrs.  Zelayeta,  was the doyenne of Mexican cooking in California, and in reviewing her recipe, below,  you will see it  is a simple combination of broth, tomato puree and tortilla strips, to which she added mint leaves.


content“Sopa de Tortilla (Tortilla Soup)”

4 tortillas
1/4 cup oil
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup tomato puree
3 quarts broth, chicken or beef
1 teaspoon cilantro (coriander)
Sprig mint leaves
Grated cheese

Cut tortillas into strips about the size of macaroni. Fry tortillas in oil until crisp, then rmove from pan and drain on absobent paper. Place in pot and add boiloing broth wich has been prepared in the following manner: Fry onion and tomato puree in the oil which was used in frying the tortillas. Add stock. Mash the cilantro, add a little broth, and strain into the stock Cook half an hour, adding the mint leaves during the last 10 minutes. Serve with grated cheese. Serves 6.”
Elena’s Famous Mexican and Spanish Recipes, Elena Zelayeta [Dettners Printing House:San Francisco] 1944 (p. 16)

Jaime Martin del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu of La Casita Mexicana in Bell, near Los Angeles riff on a classic central Mexican version by pureeing guajillo chiles along with tomatoes. They grind fried tortillas with the mixture too, which amplifies the corn flavor.

The version once served by Carlos Haro of Casablanca Restaurant in Venice, California was adapted from a recipe by cookbook author Alicia Gironella De’Angeli of Mexico City,  used roasted vegetables and chicken stock, lightly thickened with beans, is the base, then chopped cilantro, fried tortilla strips and raw onion are added to the broth, along with a garnish of cool queso fresco and crunchy roasted chiles.

I have also found that other  great versions of the simple soup was composed of spicy chiles, ground tortillas and roasted vegetables topped with crisp tortilla strips and cool strands of sour cream.

In my version of the soup, I added some roasted chicken to give it a little more body to it. If you do not have the time to roast a chicken, picking up a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket works great in a pinch.


Serves 4

Ingredients:
4-6  Roma tomatoes
1/2 large white onion, peeled
2 dried ancho chiles
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 cup tomato juice
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ancho chiles, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

Tortilla Strips:
Vegetable oil, for shallow frying
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Garnishes:
Mexican sour cream or regular sour cream
2 avocados, peeled and diced into 1/2- inch cubes or slices
Queso fresco or mild feta, crumbled
Fresh cilantro. chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay tomatoes, garlic and onion on the foil Put baking sheet in oven and allow peppers to roast for 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet. Using tongs, tomatoes and onions a half turn, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes. Turn off the oven and then add the chiles and them for a few seconds. Allow the vegetables to cool. Chop the onion and garlic.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic cloves and saute over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, chiles, white pepper, cumin, paprika, oregano and cooked chicken. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the tomato juice and chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

For the tortilla strips: In a medium, heavy skillet, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Set aside.

To serve, ladle the soup into 4 individual serving bowls. Serve with sour cream, avocados, cheese, tortilla strips, cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

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Cook’s Note:
Look for ground dried ancho chiles ,sometimes labeled pasillo, in the spice section of selected markets, especially in Latino markets.