January 26, 2010

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup for the Soul

I’ve had a tough week and it’s only Tuesday.

You’d think I’d have had the nerve (and the brains) in my youth to have my wisdom teeth out back then. Instead, because of many reasons, including bad ones like fear and procrastination, I put it off. Now, it’s time to pay for years of procrastination.  I’ve sounded rather like a pirate at night. “Arrrrgggggh. Grrrrrrr. Eeerrrrrrgggg. Ayyyyyyeeee… “ These are the sounds of pain I’ve emanated as I’ve tried unsuccessfully to drift off to sleep as my lower jaw throbs from the pain of a neglected impacted wisdom tooth.

And I’m fairly certain my husband doesn’t think it’s all that sexy.

So Thursday morning I go in for oral surgery. I’ve decided to plan ahead and put together at least the broth for this soup so I can enjoy lovely soul-warming healing soup Thursday night and Friday. This is an older recipe from Gourmet magazine and trust me, well worth the extra effort of making the broth from scratch and chopping and preparing spices.  The rich hearty flavor of this soup really is spectacular. Don’t wait until dental surgery to try it out.

For stock:

• 3 carrots, coarsely chopped

• 3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped

• 2 onions, coarsely chopped

• 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)

• 1 head garlic, halved crosswise

• 3 1/2 quart cold water

• 25 cilantro stems

• 2 Turkish bay leaves or 1 California

For finishing soup:

• 3 whole allspice

• 1 whole clove

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

• 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

• 1 medium white onion, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves

• 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo, finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon adobo sauce

• 1 cup medium-or short-grain brown rice

• 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

• 20 (7-to 8-inch) corn tortillas

• 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

• 1 (15- to 19-ounces) can black beans, rinsed

• 2 (7-to 8-ounces) firm-ripe avocados

• 2 limes, cut into wedges

• 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro

Make stock:

Bring all stock ingredients to a boil with 2 teaspoons sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in an 8-to 10-quart heavy pot, skim foam.

Reduce heat and gently simmer, uncovered, skimming foam occasionally, 2 3/4 hours.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board, then pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl and discard solids. Reserve

1 cup stock and return remainder to cleaned pot.

Finish soup:

Toast spices in a dry small skillet over medium-low heat, shaking skillet occasionally, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 2 minutes.

Transfer spices to a blender along with onion, garlic, chipotles with adobo sauce, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and reserved stock.

Blend until mixture is smooth and spices are ground, about 2 minutes

Add purée to stock in pot along with rice and sweet potatoes and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer, covered, until sweet potatoes and rice are tender, about 45 minutes.

While soup simmers, discard skin and bones from chicken and cut or shred meat into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds. Stack tortillas and cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips, then toss with oil. Spread strips in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets and season with sea salt.

Bake, stirring frequently and switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until deep golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes.

When rice and sweet potatoes are tender, add chicken and beans to soup and simmer, uncovered, until just heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, quarter avocados lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.

Season soup with salt and pepper, then serve with lime wedges, chopped cilantro, avocados, and tortilla strips.

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