One of the things I miss most about Texas is Tex-Mex food and also our summertime sojourns to Colorado and trips through New Mexico that would expose me to the piquant flavors of the desert Southwest.
It was there that I had tortilla soup for the first time, as well as roasted chiles.
Until we had travelled the first time through New Mexico on our way to Colorado, I had never experienced the uniquely sweet, spicy and caramelized flavor of roasted chiles. I was so addicted that we would stop before crossing the border back into Texas to buy chiles to bring back, roast and then bag and freeze to enjoy all year long to rem
ind me of those sojourns.
Even though we can’t always get chiles from New Mexico here in Salem, you can readily find anaheim or passilla chiles readily at grocery stores such as Roth’s.
The trick if you have a gas stove is to roast the chiles on your largest burner on the highest heat, turning them one at a time with a metal tong until they’re charred and then drop them into a large mixing bowl and then seal with plastic wrap and let them steam in the bowl. This will make it really easy to peel the skin off.
Once they cool, you should just be able to slip on a pair of gloves and then use a pairing knife to just scrape off the skins. Then slice the stem end off and slice them down the length. If you want to retain as much of the chile’s heat as possible, leave those white membranes that the seeds are attached to before you chop them up. If you’re a wimp, scrape off the seeds and the membranes and discard them before you start chopping up the chile. If you’re going to freeze them, you can just bag and freeze them whole with the skins on and deal with them later.
For a hearty fall soup, nothing beats a steaming bowl of chicken and tortilla soup that’s loaded with vegetables and roasted chiles. It will make you sweat and warm you up inside on those chilly nights.
Chicken and Tortilla Soup with Roasted Chiles and Salsa Verde
2 roasted chicken breasts, skin discarded and meat shredded
3 tablespoons cooking oil
Half of a sweet yellow onion, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped into quarter-inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
3 roasted Hatch, pasillo or anaheim peppers, seeds and membrates removed if you wish, and sliced into small pieces2 32-ounce packages of Pacific Chicken Broth or 4 15-ounce cans of chicken broth
3 tomatoes, cut into large cubes
1 15-ounce can of black-eyed peas, black beans, pinto beans or kidney beans.
2 cups salsa verde
6 corn tortillas, cut into half and sliced into strips and deep fried until golden
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro for garnish
In a stock pot, heat oil over medium/high heat and saute onion, garlic and celery until onions turn translucent. Add oregano and schredded chicken and roasted peppers and stir for a few minutes. Add the chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, covered.
Stir in salt and pepper to taste, can of beans, salsa verde and half of the fried tortilla strips and simmer another 2 or 3 minutes until beans are heated thoroughly.
To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with some of the remaining fried tortilla strips and pieces of cilantro.