Hearty Fall Cookery
Could this rustic tortilla soup have been a resourceful ranchero’s campfire comida? Surely the ingredients would most likely be on hand so let’s defer to that idea. Roasting garlic over an open fire, tossed into a pot of frying onions, along with a bottle of beer, some corn tortillas, chilies, and water and you’ve got a hearty meal cooking out on the range!
The recipe that follows was actually cooked up in an LA restaurant’s kitchen years ago, but with the very same idea in mind, cooking up some everyday Mexican ingredients into a sopa with all the robust aromas and flavors of rural Mexico. The soup was a big hit, hearty, simple, and pais Mexicano!
Rustico…Tortilla Soup with Roasted Garlic and Beer: Serves 4-6 (2 quarts)
Prepare ahead: Roasted garlic Preheat oven to 400F/205C
- 1 head garlic, cloves separated skin on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt
Place the garlic cloves in the center of a foil sheet, drizzle with olive, salt, and loosely tent the foil around the garlic, sealing the edges tightly. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes or until the garlic is soft and caramelized. Remove from the oven and when cool enough to handle remove the skins, chop, and set aside to add to the soup later.
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup diced celery stalks, including some leaves
- 1 1/2 cups beer
- 1 head roasted garlic cloves, chopped (prepared ahead)
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 medium potatoes (10-12 oz) peeled and diced
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 ¾ teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 6 six inch stone ground corn tortillas, diced
- 1/2 cup cream (optional)
- stone ground tortilla chips
- ½ cup grated cheese
- sour cream (or Greek yogurt)
- smoked paprika
Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and saute for 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the mixture begins to brown, or until the onions are translucent. Add the beer and cook until reduced by 2/3rds. Add the roasted garlic and continue to reduce the beer until it is nearly absorbed. Add the chicken stock, milk, potatoes, white pepper, cayenne, sugar, salt, marjoram, and sage and stir to combine.
Once the soup returns to a boil, lower the heat to a slow simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time so the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pot.
Add the diced tortillas and continue to simmer the soup for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently as the tortillas will stick to the bottom of the pot and scorch.
Using a hand held blender (or transfer the soup to a blender jar and blend in batches) blend the soup until pureed and smooth. Add the cream (optional) or an additional 1/2 cup milk and blend into the soup. Taste and add salt if needed . Simmer the soup an additional 5 minutes, stirring continuously. The consistency of the soup will resemble a thick porridge. Thin with additional milk or stock if you prefer or when reheating.
Turn off the heat and place a lid on the pot while you prepare the garnish.
Garnishing and Serving: Preheat the broiler with the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler.
Arrange the tortilla chips on a baking tray in separate clusters for each serving and top each with grated cheese. Place under the broiler and broil until the cheese is melted and just beginning to brown. Remove from the oven at once.
Ladle soup into individual serving bowls. Using a spatula, transfer the tortilla chip clusters to each serving, floating them on the surface of soup. Add a dollop of sour cream (or Greek yogurt) atop the tortilla chip clusters and lightly dust with smoked paprika.