I recently went on the most fantastic holiday all around Mexico and had some absolutely delicious food on the way. I had this soup one evening in a great hotel just outside Oaxaca, after a long day's slogging around ancient ruins and it was so delicious that I served it at a Mexican Cantina pop-up I held recently.
Sometimes a soup can be a really dull affair but this one has lots of depth to it, not to mention garnishes and if you are a fan of Mexican food, the chances are you'll have some or most of these ingredients knocking around. The recipe is enough for four people but I sometimes cook up a single portion for myself if I'm in a hurry and I have the elements of it in the freezer which I often do, ie: chicken stock and a fresh tomato sauce. In fact, this is one of the quickest ways to cook, as I never throw food away, rather I freeze it if I have a little smidgen of tomato sauce left, for example and I one of the only worthwile new years resolutions I once made was always to have chicken stock in the freezer.
You can buy jars of Chipotles en adobo, but it's fun to make them so here is the recipe (full credit to Rick Stein for this one).
Chipotles en adobo
(Makes enough for a 370g jar)
8 chipotle chillies
3 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
60ml cider vinegar
¾ tsp salt
2 tsp brown sugar
Remove the stems from the chillies, but leave the seeds in place. Put the chillies in a bowl with 150ml of just-boiled water and cover with cling film. Leave them to soak for about 20 minutes.
Remove 3 of the soaked chipotles, leaving the rest in the water, and put them in a food processor or blender. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cider vinegar, salt, the soaking liquid and the sugar, then process to make a smooth paste.
Tip this paste into a pan and add the remaining whole soaked chipotles.
Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer the chipotles for about 1 hour. Check them every 20-30 minutes and add a little more boiling water if needed.
Leave to cool slightly, then pour into a sterilised glass jar. Cool completely and store in the fridge for up to a month. Use them to make sauces, dressings and mayonnaise.
8 large ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp lard
2 onions, sliced
2 tbsp Chipotles en adobo
1 tsp dried oregano
1 litr home-made chicken or vegetable stock
1 ½ tsp salt
8 turns black peppermill
220g cooked chicken, shredded (optional)
4 x 15cm corn tortillas, cut into 1cm strips
500ml corn or vegetable oil
1 avocado, sliced
75g Lancashire or feta cheese, crumbled
100g soured cream
small handful of freshly chopped coriander
Heat a dry, heavy-based pan and roast the tomatoes and garlic until charred. Set them aside to cool, then peel both.
Heat the lard in a saucepan and gently cook the onions until softened but not coloured. Add the peeled garlic and cook for a further 4–5 minutes. Add the chipotles, peeled tomatoes and oregano, then the stock and cook for 10–15 minutes until everything is soft and pulpy. Liquidise until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add the shredded chicken, if using, and keep the soup warm over a low heat.
Pour the oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 2.5cm. Heat the oil and fry the tortilla strips in batches until golden and crisp. Remove the strips with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper.
Serve the soup with strips of tortilla on top, slices of avocado, crumbled cheese, soured cream or creme fraiche and coriander.