One of the gifts I gave myself this year (yes, I buy myself gifts) was Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday cookbook. Many in the food world credit him with educating America about true Mexican cuisine and, for many of us, has expanded our Mexican culinary experiences beyond bean burritos and crunchy tacos. He is also won Top Chef Masters this year, which, I might add, he did with a lot of grace and class.
His tortilla soup recipe, the first I made from the book, is delicious and easy to do. I even managed to find the type of peppers the recipe called for, pasilla chilis. What makes this soup so delicious is the technique used to make the broth, which includes cooking down a puree of chili, tomatoes, onions, and garlic until it's almost a paste before adding in the chicken stock. This technique concentrates all of the flavor and the broth ends up tasting like it had simmered all day even though the soup really takes less than an hour to come together.
The soup itself is very simple, just chicken and broth, but the toppings make it extra special. The tortilla chips, avocado, sour cream and cheese all add different types of textures and flavors and make the soup perfect for lunch or a light dinner.
I'm guessing that you are now craving tortilla soup, so if you don't have Rick Bayless' book I found some tasty sounding recipes from some trusted sources...
Tortilla Soup from Simply Recipes
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup from 101 Cookbooks
Turkey Tortilla Soup from Debi Shaw Cross
Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup from Epicurious