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Tortilla and Lime Soup

from Solo Suppers by Joyce Esersky Goldstein


6 ounces boneles, skinless raw chicken breast, leftover cooked chicken or turkey, or raw small or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Chicken stock or water for poaching the chicken, if needed, plus 4 cups chicken stock reduced to 2 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup diced onion<
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon finely minced jalapeno chiles or to taste
1/2 cup peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
Kernels from 1 ear of corn (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons minced green onion, including tender green tops
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola or corn oil for frying tortillas
1 or 2 corn tortillas, cut into strips 11/2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
2 paper-thin lime slices, each quartered

This and many other wonderful recipes may be found in
Joyce Esersky Goldstein's
Solo Suppers from Chronicle Books

On a vacation in the yucatán in Mexico, I tasted my first bowl of sopa di lima. In its pure, stripped-down form, it was a delightful first course that awakened my appetite. Over the years, I have played with the basic recipe and have added diced avocado, corn, and even rice to make the soup substantial enough to be supper. Sopa di lima is usually made with chicken, but I find that shrimp works well, too. My one caveat about this soup is to be careful not to "overheat" the stock with excessive chiles. The first bite may be fine, but heat increases with every mouthful, possibly making the soup too fiery for comfort. What is important is the balance between the tartness of the time and the heat of the chiles.

If using raw chicken, poach the chicken breast in a saucepan with stock to cover until just cooked through, about 8 minutes. You may poach the breast whole and then shred the meat, or you may cut the breast into 1/2-inch-wide pieces and poach them. They will cook in half the time. If using cooked chicken or turkey, cut into 1/2 inch-wide strips. You should have about 1 cup. If using raw shrimp, simmer them in stock to cover for 2 minutes. You can instead cook them in their shells in the stock used for the soup ahead of time, to give the soup a more shrimpy taste, then peel and devein them, or you may add them, already peeled and deveined, during the last 2 minutes of cooking the soup.

To make the soup base, in a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and chile and sauté, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reduced stock and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes, corn, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 2 minutes to blend the flavors. If you are using shrimp and haven't cooked them, add them now; if you are using leftover cooked chicken, add it now as well. Cook for 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

While the soup simmers, pour the canola oil to the depth of about 1 inch in a small, deep sauté pan and heat over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tortilla strips and fry briefly until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Put the avocado in a large bowl and pour the hot soup over it. Top with the pieces of lime and the tortilla strips.

Variation: For a version that is less soupy and more like chilaquiles, use only 3/4 cup stock and add 2 torn tortillas to the mixture to heat through. Omit the fried tortilla strips and top with 1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

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