Wine Lover's Tortilla Soup
Hold the tequila. Our Mexican culinary hero just returned from a wine pilgrimage to the Coahuila desert. You heard that right—Mexican wine! Graciela loves her country's native agave spirits as much as any proud defeña chef, but these days, she's just as likely to pour you her favorite Chenin Blanc from the Parras Valley (where Spanish Jesuits planted some of the first grapes in the Americas back in 1597). "It's floral and fruit-forward," she says of Casa Madero's prize-winning white, "with wonderful refreshing acidity."
That palate-pleasing zing happens to be just the answer to her elevated take on a Mexican comfort food classic: tortilla soup. "This is the soup I serve when I want to make someone feel truly at home," says Graciela. "Its creamy texture and comforting flavors take me back to my childhood and my grandmother." Her family recipe will transport you, too, even if you never had a masa-kneading abuela. The combination of pasilla chile, epazote, and fresh corn tortilla—simmered with tomatoes and blended until silky—is Mexico in a (generously garnished) bowl. To make it sing, serve with a soft crumble of queso panela and crunchy chicharrón.
Tortilla Soup (makes 4 cups)
For the soup:
1 tbsp canola oil
½ large yellow onion; diced
2 cloves garlic; minced
½ kg cored ripe red tomatoes
4 fresh corn tortillas; finely chopped
1 pasilla chile; seeded, deveined and sliced
1 liter chicken stock
1 sprig epazote
salt to taste
1 cup chicharrón; broken into small pieces
1 cup panela cheese; coarsely chopped
leftover pasilla chile; toasted
1 serrano chile; deveined and sliced
1 avocado; chopped into cubes
4 teaspoons heavy cream
4 leaves epazote (1 per serving)
1. In a large saucepan, warm the canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and the garlic and sauté until onions are translucent.
2. Add the tomatoes and tortillas; then add the pasilla chile to your taste (use the whole chile for a medium-hot kick or half for medium-mild). Sauté for nine minutes.
3. Add the chicken stock and season with salt.
4. Bring to a boil and add the epazote sprig, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for three minutes.
5. Discard the epazote stem, transfer the soup to a blender and liquefy.
6. Divide the chicharrón, cheese, and avocado among four individual soup bowls.
7. Pour the hot soup evenly over each of the assembled bowls.
8. Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of cream and an epazote leaf; add serrano and leftover pasilla chile to each guest's taste.