Winter has me seeking heat, and today is no different, even though the sun is shining and the mercury is actually hovering around zero (instead of being buried deeply into the negative numbers). What better than a soup to warm you up, even when you’re stuck indoors all day. Just the idea of cold weather has me gravitating towards foods that warm me up, both from a temperature perspective, as well as having a heat inducing spice-factor.
Still gazing at the yet unopened package of fresh corn tortillas I picked up on my last trip to Whole Foods market, I thought something Southwestern in flavour would fit the bill, and achieve the dual purpose of warming me up as well as making good use of those tortillas, and the leftover roast chicken I had in the fridge.
I came across a great recipe while reading Dave DeWitt’s The Southwest Table: Traditional Cuisine from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Dave describes this lime soup as a signature menu item in the now defunct Rio Grande Cantina, a then popular watering hole and lunch spot near Old Town in Albuquerque. After making it, I can see why. This soup warms you up with the heat of the pepper, but the heat doesn’t burn. In fact, its heat is well tempered from the chicken stock, which provides the perfect base for this soup. The list of ingredients is short and uncomplicated, and all the better to taste each of them to their fullest. A squirt of fresh lime juice to finish it off adds the perfect zesty finish to the warm but subtle spiciness of this soup.
The Rio Grande Cantina restaurant’s motto was “Salud, Amor, y Pesetas, y Tiempo Para Disfrutarlas”, which translates loosely as “To Health, Love, and Money, and the Time to Enjoy Them.” So, here’s to all of these things, and a tasty soup that will warm your heart by transporting you to New Mexico, if only in spirit.
A note on ingredients: New Mexican green chiles are nearly impossible to find locally, so I substituted a hot banana pepper, to great success. I also substituted a large shallot for the 1/3 cup of onion, because I didn’t want to waste half an onion. For the tortilla chips, I took some fresh corn tortillas, and sliced them, then fried them in hot oil for a few seconds to crisp up, and topped them with some homemade lime salt (grated lime zest and Maldon salt flakes tossed together) while the chips were still hot. Finally, I added two really good organic chicken bouillon cubes to my broth, because the broth I use is salt free. Perfect. Let’s get cooking, shall we?
This delicious New Mexican soup is adapted from Dave DeWitt's The Southwest Table: Traditional Cuisine from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.
I made my own tortilla chips by slicing some fresh corn tortillas and frying them in some peanut oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. I then sprinkled my tortillas with my fresh lime salt right upon removing them from the hot oil. I made the lime salt by zesting the lime (before juicing it for the soup), and tossing the lime zest with some Maldon salt flakes.
If you use chicken broth that is fairly salty, you may wish to omit the bouillon cubes. You can also season the soup with salt, instead of bouillon cubes if desired.
- 1 New Mexican green chile, roasted, peeled, seeds and stem removed, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped onion (or 1 large shallot, peeled and chopped)
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup shredded chicken
- 2 organic chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- 4 large lime slices for garnish
- 16 tortilla chips for garnish
- In a pan, saute the chile and onion in the oil until the onion is soft but not browned.
- Add the chicken broth, chicken, and bouillon cubes. Cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the tomato and simmer 5 minutes more.
- Stir in the lime juice, taste, and add more lime juice if needed.
- Serve in bowls garnished with 1 lime slice and 4 tortilla chips.