Albondigas Tortilla Soup

Serves 4.

Note: Two iconic Mexican soups, albondigas (meatball) and tortilla, come together in one warm and satisfying bowlful of flavor. Crispy tortilla strips, diced avocado and cilantro leaves generously top the soup, adding loads of flavor and texture. Ancho chiles are the dried version of poblano chiles. Find them in packages, often near the produce section. From Meredith Deeds.

Soup:

• 2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and deveined (see Note)

• 3/4 lb. ground pork

• 3 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

• 4 garlic cloves (2 minced, and 2 chopped), divided

• Salt

• 1/4 tsp. ground cumin

• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Vegetable oil

• 1 medium onion, chopped

 

• 1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained

• 4 c. low-sodium chicken broth

• 4 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-in. strips

Garnishes:

• 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

• Fresh cilantro leaves

• Thinly sliced serrano or jalapeño chiles

• Thin slice of tortillas

• Lime wedges

Directions

Cut a slit into each dried chile pepper so they can be opened up and will lie flat. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Lay them flat, skin-side up, in the skillet. Press flat for a few seconds with a metal spatula, then flip them (they may turn a lighter color on this side). Press down again to toast the other side. This process will only take about 20 to 30 seconds per side. The toasted peppers should be fragrant, but not smell burned. If the peppers burn, discard and start again.

Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl, cover with hot water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure all parts of the chiles are soaking.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the pork, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 cloves minced garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, cumin and pepper. Form 1/2-inch meatballs with the mixture, and keep chilled until ready to use.

Pour off all the water from the chiles and discard. Place chiles in a blender.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and remaining 2 cloves chopped garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the blender with the chiles. Add the tomatoes and purée until smooth.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat. Add the purée and stir frequently, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add meatballs and return the soup to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with remaining salt, if necessary.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels. Pour 1/4 inch of oil into a large skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, carefully add half of the tortillas. Use a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to carefully stir the tortillas and fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using the skimmer or slotted spoon, remove the tortillas. Spread them on the paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

To serve, divide soup among serving bowls. Top with avocado, cilantro leaves, sliced chile and tortilla strips, and serve with lime wedges on the side.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 470 Fat 32 g Sodium 265 mg

Carbohydrates 27 g Saturated fat 7 g Total sugars 6 g

Protein 25 g Cholesterol 60 mg Dietary fiber 7 g

Exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 starch, 2 ½ medium-fat protein, 3 ½ fat.