For today's post I will share a technique I use for cooking Mexican style soups. It's not so much of a recipe per se but rather a framework, which is how I am approaching cooking more and more these days. In fact I plan to make frameworks a regular spot here at CCF as I figure them out myself. Let's get started on todays framework.
For Mexican soups I like to start with a puree of slightly char grilled vegetables and reconstituted dried chilies as the base. This is simple enough. I usually start with a dried chipotle and a couple of dried guajillos and roast them in a dry red hot cast iron skillet for a few minutes per side, pressing them into the skillet with a spatula until fragrant. Then I submerge them in a pot of near boiling water (removed from heat) for 30 minutes. Now you can use anchos or arbols or New Mexicos or moras or, you get the picture. Experiment but remember the combinations of dried peppers will distinctively affect the flavor profile. After the 30 minutes of steeping the time it takes the chilies to cool, stem and seed them.
Next I roast a couple of tomatoes, an onion and a head of garlic on the grill until soft and a bit charred. I use a roasting pan on the grill as to not lose any of the juices from the tomato. Oh and if you have wood chips lying around, soak them and throw them on the fire to add a smokiness. You can obviously do this in the oven or on the stovetop in that same red hot cast iron skillet as well. Let everything cool down then add the chilies, tomatoes, onions, about 4 cloves of the garlic (reserved the remainder for another dish), a pinch of salt and 2 - 3 of cups of the water from rehydrating the chilies to a blender and puree and strain. This is our base.
Moving on cut your veggies into small cubes and you can use whatever you have or whatever is in season. I tend to use a half of an onion, carrots, zucchini, corn and celery but again use what you will. Now get your soup pot on the stove and heat a small amount of oil add your veggies and saute until just al dente. Now add chicken or vegetable stock (usually about 6 cups), the puree base, about 3 or 4 sprigs of cilantro, 2 sprigs of fresh oregano, 1 sprig of fresh thyme, 1 lime sliced thin, 1 Serrano pepper sliced thin and a bay leaf or two and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes. Finally remove the twigs and leaves and taste it. Season the soup as needed by adding salt and maybe a bit of ground cumin. Serve with a lime wedge and more cilantro as a garnish.
So there you have it, a framework for making a Mexican style soups and as you can tell there is a lot of latitude when it comes to ingredients. Add toasted tortillas if you like, avocado, a dab of crema, beans and or just about any lean protein like chicken, shrimp, crab, tripe etc. Let us know your ideas and result in the comments section below!