On a long-ago vacation in Cozumel, Mexico, we fell in love with this soup: fragrant with lime, cilantro, comino and oregano, with just enough heat from chile powder and salsa de casera, and topped with crunchy tortillas or chips.
You could make a vegan version of this recipe by using vegetable broth and either omitting the chicken or substituting beans or some sort of fake chicken.
I buy preservative-free tortillas made in East Oakland: La Finca or La Mexicana, in Mexican markets in the East Bay, or at La Palma in San Francisco. Or make my own Tortillas de maíz hechas a mano – Homemade corn tortillas from fresh masa from La Finca.
I borrowed some of Jacqueline Higuera McMahan’s method of adding roasted tomatoes from her recipe for tortilla soup: http://www.sfgate.com/food/southtonorth/article/Soup-preserves-the-last-of-the-year-s-tomatoes-4888977.php Although it adds an extra step, the roasted tomatoes give the soup a rich and satisfying flavor and texture. You can roast them ahead of time. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup of canned tomato puree, although it won’t be quite the same.
Serves 3 for dinner with warm tortillas on the side
1 ½ quarts (6 cups) homemade chicken broth. See Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version) (ok, buy it boxed or canned it you don’t have homemade.)
5 Roma tomatoes
1/2 purple onion
3 cloves garlic
olive oil spray
1 tsp. cumin (comino in Spanish)
salt to taste
2-3 Tb. (to taste) salsa, such as Herdez salsa casera
1 – 2 tsp ancho chile powder (to taste)
½ chicken breast chopped. tinga de pollo is an excellent addition and will add extra flavor
Or use leftover roast chicken, or you can cook raw breast in the soup.
1 cup cooked rice
several sprigs of fresh cilantro for each bowl
3 sprigs fresh oregano, minced. (You can substitute 3 tsp dried oregano)
1-2 Tb queso cotija, queso fresco or Monterey Jack cheese for each bowl
1 avocado sliced
3 corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 300′ Halve tomatoes and place cut side up on a foil-lined flat casserole dish, with the onion in the center and the garlic cloves placed between the tomatoes. Spray with olive oil spray and bake for 1 hour. Remove the stems and skins from tomatoes and onion, then pulse them in a food processor. You can do this step ahead of time.
Heat broth to boil, add tomatoes and cumin. Add chili powder, salsa and salt to broth to taste. If using raw chicken breast add it at this point, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.
Heat tortillas on a comal or heavy frying pan until crispy, then break into pieces. You can use packaged tortilla chips instead.
Add cooked rice. If using cooked breast, put in the soup at the last minute so as not to lose the flavor.
Pour soup into bowls. Add oregano, cilantro and lime juice as desired, and stir. Crumble cheese on top and add avocado slices and tortilla pieces or chips. ¡Disfrùtela!