So many people have begged me for this recipe that I finally decided to spill it...the recipe not the soup. It is commonly called Tortilla Soup back in Texas and it is so simple to make, you won’t believe that it can possibly taste so good! Just one note: do not leave out any ingredients. It just won’t taste right!
4 chicken breasts (better to use an entire chicken half breast only)
4 chicken cubes, large, (Caldo de gallina Maggi)
½ cup of your favorite bottled Mexican salsa ( We make our own in La Luna Verde, but it is not necessary. Your favorite from the supermarket will do. They all sell one or another here in Bolivia)
4 Large rolls of angel hair pasta (Fideo cabello de angel in Bolivia) OR 7 small rolls (they come both ways)
2 Large tomatoes diced whole …not peeled
10 green onions diced tops and all (cebollin in Bolivian markets)
12 cups of waterGarnish:
Cilantro minced not too finely (culandro in Bolivia)
Tortilla chips (we use Gaudalajara brand out of Cochabamba…best quality, delicate in texture and available in Hipermaxis. Use “natural’ flavor if they have it. Better than flavored.
A quick shred on top of your favorite cheese – we use Pil Cheddar, you can use your favorite. JUST NOT TOO MUCH!Directions:
1. Prepare all the ingredients and have those ready, diced veggies etc. This will go quite fast and you don’t need to feel rushed. (Have a glass of wine or a beer first like Chef Trent does!)
2. Put 12 cups of water in a large pot along with the 4 cubes of Maggi caldo de gallina and the entire half chicken, or 4 large chicken breasts in a pot and bring to a boil. Cook gently for 25 minutes until cooked through.
3. In the meantime, toast (fry) the angel hair pasta in a bit of olive oil, or regular oil if you have none, until WELL BROWNED. Almost burnt, but not quite. This is important to achieve the right flavor! Take out and leave on a plate until ready to use.
4. When chicken is done cooking take out onto a deep plate to cool a bit.
5. Add the toasted fideo to the soup and continue to cook gently for 10 minutes.
6. While the fideo is cooking, take two forks and pull the chicken in shreds from the bones. You can leave some bigger chunks if you like but NO BONES OR GRISLE! (Wow, Chef Trent, you seem mad! Maybe so, but not as mad as my restaurant guests here in La Luna Verde or yours at home will be if they choke on a chicken bone, eh?)
7. Now this part will seem weird, but you will just have to trust me on this: when the 10 minutes is up for boiling the fideo, cut the fire and add all the ingredients, chicken and all, OTHER THAN THE GARNISH. DO NOT CONTINUE COOKING OR YOU WILL RUIN YOUR SOUP! That’s right, just dump them all in there, give them a gentle stir and serve immediately.
8. Ladle into bowls and garnish with each of the ingredients listed. They don’t have to be in any order just float on top and try to make the soup look pretty. It will not be difficult with those colors, just use your natural resourcefulness! You know it’s in there. Let it out! You will so impress your friends with your imagination and your lively dinner conversation about how you started cooking as a child and all that. Get it?
Do not tell your friends that this soup is so easy to produce. Let them think you worked for hours and you are a cooking genius of the top order!
(Note: If you cannot serve right away, you must reheat gently until just steaming, not boiling or it will turn into a creamy mess. It will still taste good, but it will not be the same. Also, do not leave out ANY garnish ingredients. These are what really make the soup what it is famous for. If you do not have cilantro, for example, you cannot serve this soup! That would be a catastrophe that they would publish in all the newspapers in Bolivia along with photo of your red face for having done so!)
Remember soup is good food! (We can’t seem to make enough of it here in La Luna Verde Restaurant.)
and La Posada del Sol boutique hotel in Samaipata, Bolivia. He contributes his favorite Bolivian recipes, restaurant reviews and food commentary on www.BoliviaBella.com.