Homemade chicken tortilla soup is the only way to the best chicken tortilla soup of your life. Today we're making a traditional version and an ultra-fancy version. Is there a winner... or are they both winners?
1.5 quarts (1420ml) veggie oil
Salt to Taste
4 oz (113g) bacon, half-inch cubes
1 lb (16oz) chicken thighs, boneless & skinless
1 medium onion, finely diced
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 Serrano chilies, sliced
2 teaspoons (2g) ground cumin
1 teaspoon (1g) ground coriander
1 teaspoon (1g) smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoons (1g) ground cinnamon
2 dried guajillo chilies, de-seeded
1 dried ancho chili, de-seeded
4 cups (960ml) chicken stock
2 ears of corn
1/2 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
salt to taste
cilantro for garnish
2 avocados, diced
1 piece Oaxaca cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar
3-4 fried corn tortillas
3-4 Chicken skins
35g tomato paste
1 guajillo pepper, finely chiffonade
salt to taste
Cut your tortillas into half an inch wide strips, and in batches, fry them in about one and a half quarts of vegetable oil that have been heated to 350F until they stop bubbling and turn to a golden brown.
Remove and drain on a wire rack and season generously with salt. Let those cool completely, and repeat with the rest of your tortilla strips.
In a medium-size pot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat over medium-high; season your chicken thighs to taste with salt and any other seasonings of choice. Once the oil is hot, sear your chicken on both sides in batches for two to three minutes, until brown, and place it on a sheet to the side as you sear the rest.
Reduce the heat to medium and add bacon and cook that often stirring until crispy; then add onion, serrano, and garlic. Season lightly with salt, stir together, and let that sweat down until everything has softened about three minutes.
Add cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, stir and cook until toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds; add guajillo chili, ancho chili, two corn cobs (optional), add chicken stock, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Then add your chicken back, increase the heat to medium-high and as soon as it starts to boil, immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Next, take the guajillo and ancho chilies out (they should be soft), place them in a blender, discard your corn cobs, remove your chicken, and set it to the side.
Add one and a half cups of your broth in your blender and blend your chilies on high speed until smooth and bright orange. Pour that back in your simmering broth and stir together. Add crushed tomatoes, allow it to simmer, and reduce while you shred all your chicken with two forks until finely shredded.
Let your broth reduce for five minutes, turn off the heat, add all of your chicken back, corn kernels (optionally reserve some extra for plating), and chopped cilantro.
In a bowl, add your tortilla chips, top it with Oaxaca cheese and shredded cheddar. Pre-melt the cheese (optionally with a kitchen torch); then ladle in your hot soup generously, top that filler with more tortilla chips, fresh diced avocado, corn kernels (optional), and finally, fresh cilantro leaves.
Fry a corn tortilla at 350F till crisp and golden. Drain on a wire rack and season to taste with salt.
Espuma - Blend tomato paste, chicken tortilla soup, cream, and blend that until very smooth, adding soup if needed to loosen; then place that hot liquid in an ISI canister, close the top, aerate it with one charge and give it a shake.
Chicken Skins - On a lined parchment paper sheet tray, place the chicken skins, roast in the oven at 350F on convection until golden and crisp; then drain them on paper towels and season them generously with kosher salt. Let them cool down.
In the same hot oil from frying, add your guajillo and let it fry quickly, about 15 seconds, then immediately drain it on a paper towel and season with salt..
Place your tortilla on a plate, top it with your chicken soup espuma, randomly place your chicken skin chips, a line of toasted guajillo, and finish with fresh cilantro leaves.