Tortilla Soup with Cheese and Anchos
Ancho (Ahn-cho) Chile (Capsicum Annum) means Wide Chile Pepper. This chile ranges from 3 – 4 on a heat scale of 1 to 10. An Ancho is the dried form of a Poblano Pepper and often is mislabeled as a Pasilla or Mulato Pepper. Anchos have sweet fruity flavor with hints of cherry, prune, and fig. Anchos, combined with the Pasilla and Guajillo, form the Holy Trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces. Scoville heat units are 1,000 to 3,000.
2 medium ancho chiles- stemmed, seeded, and torn into very small pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
One 14 1/2-oz can peeled whole tomatoes
5 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium broth
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1 1/3 cups broken tortilla chips (1/2-inch pieces)
5 oz queso fresco or Muenster cheese, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
1/3 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lime wedges, for garnish
In a medium bowl, soak the ancho chiles in very hot water until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain the ancho chiles and pat them dry.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cooked onion and garlic to a blender. Add one-third of the ancho chiles and the tomatoes with their juices and blend for 1 minute. Strain the mixture into a medium saucepan. Add the stock, oregano, thyme and marjoram and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Season the soup with salt.
Divide the the broken tortilla chips, cheese and remaining ancho chiles among 4 soup bowls. Ladle the soup on top. Garnish the tortilla soup with a generous dollop of sour cream and the chopped parsley and serve immediately with lime wedges.
Recipe by Jim Peyton, foodandwine.com.