Nearly a year ago now I stumbled upon the tortilla soup that changed everything – Rick Bayless’ version of Tortilla Soup with Swiss Chard. It was and still is unlike any tortilla soup I’d had before.
You’ve tasted the insipid can-see-clear-to-the-bottom-of-the-bowl versions of tortilla soup, I’m sure. This recipe is based on a very opaque foundation of red chile – that was a big ah-ha moment for me, and one of many I’m ever grateful to Bayless for.
Since first finding and trying it, I’ve made and remade this recipe a few times, further simplifying and modifying as I go. Last May, my initial thoughts about this soup were: “such a revelation! Thanks to Food52 for bringing this into my life and mouth. Not your run of the mill tortilla soup. Wonderful depth of flavor from a meatless soup. I added a can of black beans just to bulk it out a bit, tripled the amount of tomato, skipped the chard, and uh…needless to say I did not make my own tortilla chips.”
Anyone know if quotes are appropriate when quoting oneself? Or ones former self – so much changes in a year around here, I’m hardly that same person anymore! 😉
Anyhow – I was definitely on the right track with adding the beans. AND with skipping making my own chips! (Sheesh! As if.) My latest and favoritest iteration involves the addition of just a touch of cream, putting this soup well into the Party in My Tummy category of things.
Creamy Toasted Red Chile Soup
- 2 Tablespoons oil, divided
- 4-5 dried pasilla chiles (or sub another mild, fruity dried red chile)
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
- 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1/4-1/2 cup cream (add more or less to your taste)
- salt to taste (depends on the saltiness of the broth)
- optional toppings:
- tortilla chips (this is a great way to use up the broken chip bits in the bottom of the bag)
- queso fresco crumbles
- ribbon-cut chard leaves
- sliced or diced avocado
- Use kitchen scissors to cut the pasillas into roughly 1" squares. Discard the stems, remove as many seeds as you like (more seeds = more heat).
- Toast the chile pieces carefully in small pan with about 1 T oil over moderate heat until they change to a very brown-red, almost black (but not blackened!) - like dark mahogany.
- Place the toasted chile squares in a bowl, and add hot water just to cover. Place a second, smaller bowl onto and within that bowl to submerge the chiles. Let them soak for at least 30 minutes.
- Add another tablespoon of oil to that same pan and lightly fry the onion and garlic. You don't want them overly soft, just want to get a bit of color on them but not all the way to sweet and caramelized.
- Once the 30 minutes is up, place the re-hydrated chiles & their soaking water, onions & garlic, canned tomatoes, and 1 cup chicken broth in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Pour the blender contents through a sieve (to catch any big chile pieces) and into a soup pot or dutch oven.
- Add the rest of the chicken broth, black beans, and cream. Stir, warm, and salt to taste.
- Serve with optional toppings.
* If you're into doing less dishes, all the steps can be accomplished in one single pot - a dutch oven would work nicely, or any pot you usually use for soup.
* In the summer you could use fresh tomatoes for this recipe - place the tomatoes, garlic, and onion under the broiler for about 10 minutes until they get a good bit of color.
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Do you have a favorite tortilla soup recipe or memory? We’d love to hear about it!