Recently, I had lunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant on a subzero day. As a thoughtful “thank you” to customers who braved the frigid temperatures, the restaurant offered free cups of tortilla soup to each diner. It was an appreciated gesture, and the soup was fantastic! I enjoyed it so much that I began tinkering in my kitchen to create something similar.
If you are unfamiliar with Queso Fresco cheese, don’t worry – it is readily available in any supermarket with a decent selection of tortillas and other Central/South American staples. If you are preparing this soup in parts of Europe where Central/South American grocery items are not as ubiquitous as they are throughout the US, you may need to get a bit creative and substitute another fresh, crumbly cheese. Feta might work, although the flavor will be stronger. Here you are. I hope it keeps you warm!
Ingredients (Makes 4 hearty servings)
8 fresh corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (hot or mild)
6 cups good quality chicken stock
1 cup of salsa
1 ripe avocado, sliced thin
1 lime, quartered
4 ounces Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
Step 1) Brush tortillas with oil. Stack and slice into thin strips. Spread tortilla strips onto a large baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt and chili powder.
Step 2) Bake tortilla strips in a preheated 350 degree oven until they are slightly browned and crispy. Check after 10 minutes, and every minute thereafter – once the tortillas dry out (which you want), they will burn quickly!
Step 3) While the tortilla strips bake, combine chicken stock and salsa in a saucepan and heat to almost boiling. Ladle stock into 4 large bowls, filling the bowls halfway.
Step 4) Squeeze the juice from a lime quarter into each bowl (I leave the squeezed lime right in the bowl). Divide your sliced avocado and crumbled cheese between the 4 bowls. Top each bowl with a handful of warm, baked tortilla strips. Serve immediately!