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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I was flying solo for dinner last night which gave me carte blanche.  Anything I wanted, I could have. 

After rifling through the vegetable bins and pantry, I realized I had the makings for tortilla soup.  Well, tortilla soup the way I  like it.  Restaurant versions are good, but not kicked up to the level I enjoy.

Mise en Place.
I prepped the aromatic vegetables by slicing and dicing baby poblanos, new carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, jalapenos, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and corn.

While the oil heated in a dutch oven, I gathered the dried spices: ground coriander, ancho chili, cumin, smoked paprika, mexican oregano, and dried espazote.

After dropping the vegetables into the hot oil to caramelize until tender, I added the dried spices to wrap around the vegetables, toasting and releasing their essential oils.

Once the spice mix sauteed to almost paste-like around the ingredients, I deglazed the pan with a splash of tequila and chicken stock.

Very fragrant.  Spicy air. Eye burning.

I let the soup simmer for 30 minutes before adding fresh squeezed orange juice to take the edge off with sweet acididy.

Most tortilla soups have shredded chicken.  Nope. Not me.  Not on solo night.  I tossed in  chunks of mahi, grouper, and cod to simmer in the spicy bath. 

When the seafood was cooked through, I ladled the soup into a large pasta bowl, showered it with fresh cilantro, scallions, sliced fresh avacado, tortilla chips, and lime juice.

The combination of  fresh orange juice and lime juice created a sour orange.  Bittersweet.  Refreshing. Awakening.  The broth was incredibly spicy.  Numbing and irresistable.  I could not stop eating through the fiery burn.  The spice stained fish pieces were sweet and tender, the melted vegetables sweetly soft, and the fresh avacado velvety. Butter soft.  They fought through and mellowed the stinging heat. Bright cilantro  finished with freshness while scallions provided mild onion snap

I flew solo for dinner last night with Seafood Tortilla Soup. It was the best flight ever.

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