Cafe Verde Tortilla Soup
Black Bean Tortilla Soup
Sopa de Bolitas de Tortilla (Tortilla Ball Soup)

Cafe Verde Tortilla Soup

Total time: 55 minutes

Serves: 4

Note: Look for ground dried ancho chiles (sometimes labeled pasillo) in
spice section of selected markets, especially Latino markets.

2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 large white onion, peeled
6 whole corn tortillas, plus 2 more cut into thin strips and fried
2 dried ancho chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup vegetable stock, or more to taste
1 quart water
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ancho chiles, or more to taste
1/2 cup sour cream

In batches, on a grill or rack (such as a cooling rack) over an open
stovetop flame, roast the tomatoes, onion and whole tortillas until
lightly spotted with brown, then roast the chiles for a few seconds (after
which they'll start to burn). Break the tortillas into pieces. Heat the
olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic cloves and saute over
medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up
with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, chiles, tortilla pieces, bay leaf and
cilantro. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomato juice, stock and water.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and, using a blending wand or blender, puree the
mixture, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Strain the mixture through
a sieve, pressing on the solids; discard the solids. Return the soup to
the cleaned pan and add salt, white pepper and ground chile. Rewarm the
soup; if it seems too thick, stir in additional stock or water. Garnish
with fried tortilla strips and sour cream.

Black Bean Tortilla Soup

Total time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Servings: 8
Note: The beans are not soaked before cooking.

1 1/4 cups ( 1/2 pound) rinsed dried black beans (not soaked)
1 sprig epazote, optional
2 dried ancho chiles
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 Roma tomato
6 cups chicken stock, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 corn tortillas
Oil for frying
1 cup cilantro leaves
12 ounces queso fresco, crumbled

Put the beans in a large pot and add 2 quarts water, one-half teaspoon
salt and the epazote, if using. Bring to a boil, cover almost completely
and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour. In batches, puree the
beans with 4 cups of the cooking liquid in a blender. Strain; discard the
bean skins. Roast the chiles on a grill just until fragrant, a few
seconds. Do not allow them to burn (they burn rapidly). Remove and set
aside for garnish. Roast the garlic, one onion half and the tomato until
spotted with brown. Peel and core the tomato and puree in a blender with
the garlic, onion and 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Heat the olive oil
in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the tomato puree and cook for 5
minutes. Add the remaining chicken stock, bring to a boil and boil for 2
minutes. Reduce the heat and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes until
slightly reduced. Add the strained black bean puree. Simmer for 45
minutes, skimming the surface occasionally. Season with 1 teaspoon salt.

Cut the tortillas in half and cut each half into thin strips. Heat
one-half inch oil in a small skillet, add the tortilla pieces a few at a
time and fry, turning at least once, for about 3 minutes or until golden
brown. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Cut the chiles into one-eighth-inch-thick strips and remove the seeds.
Coarsely chop the cilantro and finely dice the remaining onion half. To
serve, add tortilla strips, cilantro and onions to each bowl of soup.
Garnish each with a few rings of ancho chile and queso fresco.

Sopa de Bolitas de Tortilla (Tortilla Ball Soup)

Total time: 1 hour plus overnight drying time, chilling time
Servings: 6
Note: Adapted from "The Essential Cuisines of Mexico" by Diana Kennedy.
Leave tortillas out on a rack overnight to dry out. The crisper they are,
the easier to blend into fine crumbs.

Tomato-chicken broth

4 Roma tomatoes, broiled on an ungreased broiler pan about 4 minutes,
soft with brown spots
1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 cups chicken broth
1 sprig epazote

In a blender, puree the tomatoes, onion and garlic to a smooth sauce.
Place the oil in a large saucepan and add the tomato mixture. Cook about 5
minutes, until the sauce has reduced somewhat. Add the chicken broth and
bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Add the epazote during the
last minute of cooking. Adjust the seasoning.

Dumplings and assembly

12 stale corn tortillas, dried
1/2 cup hot whole milk
1/2 cup finely grated cotija cheese
1 egg, well beaten
Sea salt
1/4 cup cold whole milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
6 cups tomato-chicken broth
1/3 cup sour cream thinned with 1 teaspoon milk
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley

Break the tortillas into small pieces and grind to fine crumbs in the
blender in batches. You should have about 1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Place the
crumbs in a bowl and add the hot milk, cheese, egg and salt. Knead the
dough well with your fingers; the mixture will be crumbly. Set it aside
for several hours or refrigerate overnight to allow the tortilla particles
to soften. Again knead the dough well, adding the cold milk. Form the
dough into one long piece. Divide this into 12 pieces and divide each
piece in half. Lightly moisten your hands and roll the 24 pieces into
balls about 1 inch in diameter. Heat the oil in a skillet and fry the
balls in batches very gently, turning them from time to time until they
are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain well on paper towels. Reheat the
broth. Add the tortilla balls and bring the broth to a boil, then reduce
the heat and simmer about 2 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, allowing
four balls per serving. Top each with a spoonful of the sour cream and
some chopped cilantro.

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