New Year’s Food Porn – Sopa de Tortilla

I’ve never done a food porn posting. I figured it’s about time. Pictures and recipe below the cut. I’m hosting a very small, low-key gathering for new year’s eve; my friends Bonnie and James, their little boy Tate, Papa Christo, and possibly Bonnie’s brother Mark. Bonnie is a very-long-time friend, from our music scene days; […]

I’ve never done a food porn posting. I figured it’s about time. Pictures and recipe below the cut.


I’m hosting a very small, low-key gathering for new year’s eve; my friends Bonnie and James, their little boy Tate, Papa Christo, and possibly Bonnie’s brother Mark.

Bonnie is a very-long-time friend, from our music scene days; the cute bohemian artist chick who dated musicians. She’d hate to be described that way, with her master’s degree in art education, but when I call her a chick it’s whith all the love and respect (and lust) in the world. James is the guy we never would have expected her to hook up with, a sporto, deeply masculine, not artistic or musical, but a sweet guy with a great sense of humor. I love him to death, truly one of my closest friends, and we could not have been happier when these two hooked up and it worked. James is one of the people who got me through the last year intact.

They moved to Portland a year or so ago and I miss them. They’re in town for a wedding (at the ungodly time and date of 8:00 am, new year’s morning), so it’ll be a low-key early evening tonight. Not the drunken revel of old on new year’s, not the naked mattress party I’d really like to be hosting. But you take what you can get and I can’t say I have the energy for an orgy of any kind anyway. Just dinner and some games.

Thus, small, low-key, family. And I have to cook something vegetarian, which makes me shudder, yet I take as a personal challenge. I’m gonna do my tortilla soup, but I’m going to try doing a vegetarian version, see if I can make it work.

Here’s my basic recipe, which started from a Rick Bayless recipe that wasn’t very good, and evolved into my own version of the soup. This is always good, but a little different each time.

(note that, as with everything I cook, measurements are optional, adjust any and everything as needed, make it your own)

This’ll make enough soup to feed a bunch of people or enough left over to eat for a couple days.

Soup:

  • 2-3 white onions, chopped.
  • garlic cloves – three or four, or more, ad infinitum, chopped/crushed (but not with a damned garlic press)
  • 2-3 large cans tomatos; ‘fire roasted’ are best, but any non-seasoned version works. (You can use fresh and roast them yourself – don’t it’s too much work, unless you are overwhelmed with very good tomatos)
  • three or four quarts very rich stock (I try to use home-made, but when I run out, I use good commercial stock and simmer a chicken carcass in it with stock veg and cilantro stems while I make the rest of the soup, and then reduce it
    a lot to concentrate flavor) – in ths case I’m making a roasted veg stock, so no bird will be involved. We’ll see how that turns out.

  • canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (one of the world’s most perfect tins of flavor)
  • dried chili powders; ancho, new mexico, whatever you have.
  • Mexican oregano

Garnish:

  • Avacados, in small cubes (not super-ripe like you’d use for guac, you want it to stay in cubes)
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Limes, sliced in wedges
  • Salsa or crushed chili or what have you, in case you wanna adjust the heat
  • Soft melting cheese, jack or mexican queso fresca, grated
  • Crumbly mexican anejo cheese (I don’t like this much, but everyone else seems to)
  • Shredded chicken (I usually buy a whole cooked chicken at the market, strip the meat and throw the bones into my stock, then use the meat in the soup)
  • Tortilla strips (this should be day-old corn tortillas, cut in strips and fried til crispy, but I cheat and buy thick, unsalted tortilla chips to save labor)
  • Sour cream or better yet, mexican crema.

Soup Base:

Roughly chop the onions and fry until really soft. Add crushed garlic and stir until it’s softened, but don’t over-toast it, it gets bitter.

When it’s done, add the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles (and maybe the chipotles as well, depening on how spicy you want it, but be careful, it will get spicier as you cook it), plus several other mild chili powders for flavor. You can add more later so don’t be in a hurry to spice it up. I also add a couple of pinches of mexican oregano and some ground black pepper. Fry all this for a couple of minutes, then deglaze the pan with tequila or a little water (not much, you don’t wanna add a lot of liquid at this point).

Toss in the blender or food processor with canned tomatos and process until very smooth (This may take several batches unless you’re lucky enough to have a big-ass robotcoup). You can strain at this point through a coarse strainer if you want the soup smoother, but I usually just pureee the hell out of it in the blender/processor.

Fry the pureed tomato/onion mixture in small batches with a little oil. You want to keep it moving and cook until it gets very thick and very dark red. It should almost look like tomato paste when you’re done. This step takes a long time, makes a mess, and it’s easy to scorch. If you’re making a lot of soup it can take a LONG time, don’t try to rush it by doing too much at a time or getting the heat too high, and DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM IT.

When this is done, you have a base that can be use to make a great enchilada sauce (Thin with a little stock or water), is great on eggs, or will form the base for your soup. It freezes really really well.

This is where I usually start drinking.

The Soup:

Mix your stock and your soup base, simmer for at least 1/2 hour, and then adjust seasoning, adding more chili powder or chipotle if needed, and salt. It generally wants a lot of salt since the tomato and onion are so sweet. You can extend it with some canned stock, or reduce to thicken, it should have a medium body, thinner than tomato soup but much thicker than a broth. It should be strong, rich, tangy and a little spicy (A lot spicy for me, not spicy at all when I’m cooking for the kids).

To serve, put out garnishes. Chop the cilantro, slice limes, grate cheese. Put out crema, etc. These all go in the middle of the table in small dishes.

Place tortilla strips in a soup bowl (and chopped chicken if desired), ladle soup over it, and let people add garnish as desired at the table. I like to serve in smallish bowls and re-fill to let people garnish different ways.

Serve with a good tequila (I’m a big fan of Don Julio, reposado or silver, don’t waste your anejo by serving it with food), margaritas*, or mexican beer (tecate, since you’ve already got sliced limes!)


The scene of the crime.

Scene Of The Crime

Making the stock.

Stock-1

It’s ok to cry.

Hold The Onion

That’s a whole mess o’ onions.

Fry

Bowls of red – pured soup base pre-reduction and two kinds of adobo sauce.

Adobo N Shit-1

Reduce and reduce some more. I ran out of patience, it should be deeper red.

Reduce

There’s my stock. Turned out damned good for a first attempt at veggie stock.

Mm-Mm-Good

Now a little somethin’ for the cook.

For The Cook

It’s soup!

Its Soup

Finished product with all the fixin’s.

Dig In

And it’ll be even better tomorrow.


If you’re gonna make margaritas, make them right. These are served in a rocks glass, with salt. Fuck the no salt thing, it’s not a margarita without salt.

For each drink, squeeze one lime into your shaker. Add one oz cointreau (or triple sec, but cointreau is better, do not use gran marnier, it does not belong in margaritas), and two oz silver tequila. Shake with crushed ice and pour into a salt-rimmed rocks glass.

You can adjust the cointreau to manage the sweetness since limes vary, as do palates for sweetness/booziness of margaritas. Don’t use anejo tequila in this, it will over-power the drink (Silver is best but reposado is good). Do not even think about margarita mix or sweet and sour, they are evil and a waste of good tequila.

8 thoughts on “New Year’s Food Porn – Sopa de Tortilla”

  1. God DAMN that looks good.

    I was hoping for a picture of Bonnie too, though. She’s a hottie. Tell them hi from us.

  2. Oh, all this food for New-Years! Is it any wonder so many of us make resolutions for weight loss?
    YUM! A most excellent food porn post! Making a copy of it and adding to our internet cookbook right now!

    And a happy, peaceful, and prosperous New Year’s to you!

  3. Happy New Year, hon. I am SO grabbing this recipe.
    And thank you for giving the carnivorous instructions as well. I appreciate being vegetarian, I really do… I’ll take my flesh, thanks 😉

  4. Porn post some more… this sounds yummy. Can you format it so it fits on a 3 x 5 card? Then it would be PERFECT!

    Happy New Years you figment of my tattoo imagination.

  5. OH hell yes! Food porn at it’s best! I”m going to have to try this one, especially during these “cold” months.

    And I’m with you on the sweet and sour. Although, it does make a bartender’s life a lot easier. Margarita mix? I laugh at the very concept, even when I tended bar.

  6. Ray, it was good. Turned out as good as I’ve ever made it, which was a real victory considering the veggie stock, I had low expectations. I sent you the bonus bonnie pic. B^)

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