Pho - Vietnamese Soup

Pho - Vietnamese Soup
One of our favorite dishes - Pho

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Mansion on Turtle Creek Tortilla Soup

Day 4 of David and the kids being home due to inclement weather.  It was a day complete with pipes bursting and having Hooper Plumbing out twice.  I love a snow day or two, but enough already!  8-{  Today was day 2 of pipes bursting with our kitchen completely flooded and now we have a gaping hole in the ceiling of the kitchen to match the gaping hole in our family room.  It's not even dinner time and we're exhausted.  

Before all of our crisis began, we planned on preparing Tortilla Soup for dinner.  We are still sticking with that plan, which I must say, was a good move.  Sara, my Mother-In-Law taught me how to make this soup for the first time when they came to visit us when we lived in Palm Beach Gardens, FL right after Avery was born.  Sara taught me to use about a half of a taco seasoning packet to season the soup as opposed to using the cumin and chili powder as directed in this recipe.  Honestly, I like using the taco seasoning instead, it adds a nice bouquet of flavors to the soup.  Also, if you don't want to fry your own tortilla chips, just substitute your favorite tortilla chips instead.

I have very fond memories of spending time with David and Sara in the kitchen, whether we were in West Palm Beach, Beaver Creek, Costa Rica, or wherever...we are all very passionate, not only about food, but we all enjoy gathering the ingredients, the preparation that goes into each meal and ultimately enjoying our creations together.  I usually learn some new trick or two from Sara who is as close to a gourmet chef as you can get.

This hearty soup, which is suitable on warm spring days as well as cold winter nights, has been on the Mansion's menu since they opened.

When Tortilla Soup is ordered at the restaurant, it is brought to the table in a tureen for individual service by the waiter who garnishes each bowl according to the customer's desire.

3 tablespoons corn oil
4 corn tortillas, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh epazote or cilantro
1 cup fresh onion, pureed
2 cups pureed fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 whole bay leaves
4 tablespoons canned tomato puree
2 quarts chicken stock (recipe to follow)
cayenne pepper
1 cooked chicken breast cut into strips
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 corn tortillas, cut in strips and fried until crisp

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute tortillas with garlic and epazote over medium heat until tortillas are soft.

Add onion and fresh tomato puree and bring to a boil. Add cumin, chili powder, bay leaves, canned tomato puree and chicken stock. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste, and cook stirring frequently for 30 minutes. Skim fat from surface, if necessary.

Strain and pour into warm soup bowls. Garnish with an equal portion of chicken breast, avocado, shredded cheese and crisp tortilla strips. Serve Immediately.

Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass (or 2 pheasant or 8 quail carcasses)
2 TBSP corn, peanut or vegetable oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
3/4 cup coarsely chopped carrots
3/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh parsley
1 small bay leaf
1 TBSP  white peppercorns
5 cups water to cover

Have butcher cut carcass into small pieces or use a cleaver to do so at home.  Heat 1 TBSP oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add carcass.  Cook, stirring often, until well browned.

Add remaining oil with onion, carrots and celery.  Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are golden brown.  Pour off oil.  Add thyme, parsley, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Stir to blend and add water to cover.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, skimming surface as necessary, until reduced to 4 cups.

Line a bowl with an extra fine sieve (preferably chinois).  Pour mixture into the sieve and strain, pushing solids with a wooden spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard solids.  Skim off any surface fat.  Refrigerate, tightly sealed, for no more than 2 days, or freeze in small quantities for ease of use for up to 3 months.

Chicken Demi-Glace

4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 TBSP cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 TBSP cold water

Bring finished stock to a boil over high heat.  Stir in cornstarch and water mixture, whisking constantly.  Lower heat and simmer until reduced to 2 cups or thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Stir occasionally as demi-glace cools to keep it from separating.

Demi-glace will keep up to 1 week in the refrigerator or for 2 to 3 months in the freezer, tightly sealed.  For ease of use, store demi-glace in small quantities.

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