Spicy Tortilla Soup


The southwestern united states stake its claim to this simple and delicious soup, but it probably originated in Mexico, where considerably hotter versions are popular.


15ml/1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2.5ml/1/2 tsp salt
2 litres/3 1/2 pints/8 cups
chicken stock 1 carrot, diced 1 courgette (zucchini), diced
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast portion, cooked and shredded
1 fresh green chili, seeded and chopped

To garnish
4 corn tortillas oil, for frying
1 small ripe avocado, peeled, stoned (pitted) and diced
2 spring onions (scallions), finely chopped

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic over medium heat for 5-8 minutes until softened. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, and cook for 5 minutes more.

2. Stir in the stock. Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, for the garnish, trim the tortillas into squares, then cut into strips.

4. Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of about lcmPhin. Heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tortilla strips, in batches, and fry until just beginning to brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

5. Add the carrot to the soup. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the courgette, chicken, and chili, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

6. Divide the tortilla strips among 4-6 heated soup bowls. Sprinkle with the avocado. Ladle in the soup, then arrange spring onions and coriander on top. Serve with grated cheese if you like.

Parmesan balls make a nice alternative to shredded cheese. Grate 25g/1oz Parmesan and mix well with 2 egg yolks. When the soup is ready to serve, drop half teaspoons of the mixture all over the surface. Leave for 2-3 minutes or until just firm, then serve.

To make stock, put a chicken carcass in a large pan, add water to cover, 2 chopped onions, a stick of celery and some peppercorns. Bring to the boil, cover, simmer for 40 minutes then strain.

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