(Kristen Loken)

Secret Recipe: Tacubaya's Tortilla Soup

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We have January-is-cold-and-boring-AF syndrome.

And you know there's just one way to treat that, right? With a soul-quenching, steaming-hot bowl of soup.


Take dinner beyond chicken-noodle and spice up your bowl with a hearty ladle of Doña Tomas' tortilla soup for Berkeley's beloved Tacubaya. It's rich and brothy, spicy and crunchy—and a cinch to whip up at home.

(Kristen Loken)

Tacubaya's Sopa de Tortilla (Tortilla Soup)

Serves 6 (makes about 1.5 quarts)

Ingredients

2 guajillo chiles

1 ancho chile

1 cup warm water

3 heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, or 6 Roma tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1½ quarts chicken broth (Tacubaya makes theirs from scratch, but high quality store-bought is fine.)

2 tablespoons canola oil

½ white onion, cut into 1/3" dice

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

Kosher Salt


Garnish

¼ pound baby spinach

1/3 pound queso Oaxaca, shredded

2 avocados, diced

2 cups loosely crushed tortilla chips

Place a dry skillet over medium heat. Add the guajillo and ancho chiles and toast for 2-3 minutes, pressing them into the pan and turning occasionally with tongs to prevent burning, until the skins begin to brown and the chiles become soft and flexible and give off their spicy aroma. While the chiles are still hot, remove the stems and seeds and submerge in a bowl of hot water for about 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain the chiles and transfer to a blender. Add the warm water and purée until smooth. Leave this purée in the blender.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the tomatoes and garlic in a small baking dish and roast for about 45 minutes, until the tomato skins begin to blacken and split. The juice will bleed from the tomatoes and caramelize on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the blender with the chiles and purée on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes.

Place the broth in a large saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Place the baking dish on the stove top over high heat. Add a few ladles of the simmering chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the caramelized tomato bits. Simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, then pour this mixture back into the chicken broth.

Place a separate soup pot over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the tomato and chile purée, decrease the heat to medium, and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to prevent scorching. The consistency should be that of thick marinara sauce. Pass the broth directly through a fine-mesh strainer into the soup pot and gently summer for 20 minutes so the flavors come together. Add the shredded chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.

To serve, divide the spinach, cheese, and avocado between 6 bowls and ladle the hot soup over each. Top with the tortilla chips and serve immediately.

The soup can be refrigerated in a covered container for up to 3 days and reheated as necessary, but the spinach, cheese, avocado, and tortilla chip garnishes should always be added at the last minute.

// Tacubaya, 1782 Fourth St. (Berkeley), tacubaya.net

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