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It's Friday So It Must Be Soup! Feb 11 Sopa de Lima

This is one of my favourite soups and it is so simple, it almost feels silly to write out a recipe for it. I make this soup fairly often and it's always the day three meal after we buy a rotisserie chicken. For some reason, the stock that results from using the carcass and scraps from one of those things makes THE best broth for sopa de lima. I am pretty sure that Mexican cooks are not running out to get themselves a nice, grocery store bubble chicken to make theirs, but it sure does the trick for mine.

You will need:
Chicken stock or turkey stock (follow my directions, make your own or used good quality boxed)
plum tomatoes
red onion
stale tortillas
vegetable oil for deep frying

I roasted a chicken this week so I used all the scraps, bones and skin leftover from that, threw in the backbone (I had spatchcocked that chicken), an onion, some carrot, a stalk of celery, a bay leaf, a handful of cilantro stalks and covered all of that with water. Cook that down and keep tasting it until it has a good flavour and then strain it (reserving the bones etc so you can pick them over for meat after they cool down a bit) and pour that strained stock into a clean pot.

After the guts you have strained out cools enough, pick through it to find meat still clinging to bone and put all the meat you can find aside. THEN you can throw out everything else.

If you have corn tortillas lying around, cut them into strips so you can deep fry them. If you don't, like I didn't, you can make a small batch of from a bag of masa harina and cook them, slice them and set them aside to dry out and stale up a bit. Basically you just use an equal amount of masa mix to water so you can make as many as you want. For three of us to have a bowl of soup, I use 1/3 cup masa mix and 1/3 cup hot tap water.  You can do this earlier in the day because they can't get too stale.

masa harina mix

golf sized ball or bigger

if you don't have a tortilla press, improvise

if that doesn't get it thin enough, use a rolling pin
flattened tortilla ready for the dry, hot griddle

cook on dry, hot griddle for 20 sec to 1 min per side

slice cooled tortillas into strips

deep fry and drain on paper towels, salt and set aside

Heat about 1/4" of oil in a small pan or pot (I use a really small pot because I am only frying a handful of tortilla strips and don't like to waste all that oil) until really hot. You will know it's ready when you put in a little piece of tortilla and it immediately bubble all around it and starts to brown really quickly.
Add your tortillas a small handful at a time and deep fry until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and lay them out on a plate lined with paper towel , sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt and set aside.

Bring the soup to a light simmer and add one small, finely diced plum tomato tomato per every, say, four cups of broth. Add a small amount of finely minced red onion, some minced garlic, the reserved, shredded chicken and let it simmer for ten or fifteen minutes. Then squeeze in the juice of at least one lime. I like my soup to taste strongly of lime so I use quite a bit but just start with half a lime and keep tasting and stop when you think you have it right. Take it off the heat and add a handful of chopped cilantro.

In each bowl, put a handful of the deep fried tortilla strips in each bowl and then pour the hot soup over it. Sprinkle a bit of fresh cilantro on the top of each bowl and serve with another wedge of lime.

It's a really simple, thin, brothy soup. I have seen recipes where they put in diced avocado, and corn and black beans and all sorts of other things but I have eaten this soup for over two decades all over the Yucatan and I have never had it like that. I have had it cooked with turkey and turkey stock (I use part of my turkey stock every xmas to make a big pot), sometimes the onions are really thinly sliced instead of minced, occasionally I have had a bowls that has a bit of heat but always a clear, slightly oil broth (I never strain off the fat from the chicken), a bit of tomato, onion and meat, lime and cilantro.

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