Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mas Taco Por Favor's Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe - Did I Say Fabulous?

We've both been a bit under the weather.  Hacky cough, headache, scratchy throat.  Not feeling terrible, just not great.  The sneezing and runny nose can stop anytime.  Hopefully it will resolve itself soon, and I do hope SOON.  Dan and I have been really healthy for years, but since the grandsons are in school, we seem to come down with a lot of little colds which they bring home from school.  They are all hacking and coughing too.  Springtime can't come fast enough.

Science has found that chicken soup is good for colds and congestion.  This soup I am writing about today is just good for the soul!  Our daughter kept raving about the chicken tortilla soup from a local restaurant called Mas Tacos Por Favor.  This is not your average Tex-Mex place.  It is a little hole in the wall decorated with mis-matched chairs and wobbly tables.  You have to place your order at a window and pray that you find a seat because the place is always packed.

Mas Tacos Por Favor has been written about in many culinary magazines and in the New York Times on June 18, 2012.  Their menu is written on a chalk board and changes every day.  Their tacos are things like braised pork and red mole in la manana, or fried avocado, pulled pork, cast iron chicken and quinoa.  Merciful heavens their food is good.  But, the chicken tortilla soup is divine, their shining star.  Simply heavenly.

I took my chances and googled Mas Tacos chicken tortilla soup and miracle of miracles there was an online recipe in Bon Appetit magazine.  The tortilla soup gods smiled on me with great favor!  Full, rich flavor tasting of lime juice and clear, tasty chicken broth is the base for this soup.  It is topped off with grilled corn, avocado slices, cherry tomatoes, queso fresco and more lime juice.  It has a spicy taste from chipotle chiles and just a bit of jalapeno.  Not too spicy, but just right in my estimation.

Here is what you need to make 8 servings:

1 4 pound chicken
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, peeled, chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed
2 dried chipotle chiles
1 jalapeno (with seeds), halved lengthwise
7 cilantro sprigs
3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
vegetable oil
5 corn tortillas, cut in 1/2 inch strips
2 ears of husked corn, or 2 cups frozen, thawed corn kernels  (I had to use frozen corn)
Chopped fresh cilantro, halved cherry tomatoes, avocado wedges, queso fresco or mild feta, lime wedges.

I didn't have any chipotle chiles on hand, so I used a can of green chiles.  Just a little different, but not the end of the world.

Bring the whole chicken, onion, carrot, garlic, chipotles, jalapeno, and 16 cups water to a boil in a large pot; skim foam from surface.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, skimming the surface frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour.

Transfer chicken to a plate.  Strain broth into another large pot.  Return chiles to broth if a spicier broth is desired.  Discard remaining solids.  Shred Chicken meat; discard skin and bones.  Transfer chicken meat to a medium bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, set pot with strained broth over medium heat and add cilantro springs.  Bring broth to a simmer; cook until reduced to 8 cups, about 1 hour.  Discard cilantro sprigs and chiles if using.  Stir in 3 TBSP fresh lime juice.  Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice if desired.  Add chicken to broth.

DO AHEAD:  can be made 2 days ahead.  Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled.

Attach deep fry thermometer to the side of a large cast iron skillet or other heavy skillet.  Pour oil into skillet to a depth of 1 inch.  Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 350-360 degrees.  Working in batches, fry tortilla strips, turning occasionally until crisp and golden brown, 2-3 minutes per batch.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Season with salt.

(I baked my tortilla strips.  Drizzle with oil, toss until coated and put on a baking sheet at 400 degrees.  Stir on occasion to make sure they brown on all sides).
Cook the corn over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally until charred in spots.  (You can use your outdoor grill too).  Let stand until cool enough to handle  Cut kernels from cobs in strips.   Discard cobs.  (Alternatively, cook kernels in a large skillet over high heat until charred in spots).

Rewarm broth with chicken.  Divide soup among bowls.  I put the corn and tortilla strips in the bowl and then put out plates with toppings because not everyone likes all of them.  (You know who I'm talking about, right?)  We had cherry tomatoes, avocado slices, queso fresco, cilantro and lime wedges. YUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!

This soup is heavenly.  Divine.  Amazing.  Fabulous.  Incredible.  Awesome.  Flavorful.  Tasty.  Scrumptious.  Is that enough adjectives?

I had never thought of eating avocados in a hot soup broth, but boy oh boy, are they good!  It's all good and will do wonders for a stuffy head.  It's not really hard to make either.  You don't even have to wait until you have a stuffy head to enjoy this fabulous concoction.

If you are ever in Nashville and want some spectacular food, head straight to Mas Tacos Por Favor at 732 McFerrin Avenue in east Nashville.  They are open 11-4 Tuesday through Saturday and I don't know about evenings.  They also have a food truck that makes appearances from time to time around town.  Mas Tacos is owned by Teresa Mason and she certainly knows her stuff when it comes to delicious food.

Give this soup a try.  No, it's not like the chicken tortilla soup you get other places - it's so much better!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well.   Henny Youngman