~Molly & Jamie At the Green Market~
From Food Stylist Molly:
This spring I took a trip to Texas with my mom. Having never been to Texas before, I enlisted the help of the little Miss Texan herself, Jamie Beck, to help plan our travels. We went to Fredericksburg in Texas Hill Country, visited the old dance hall in Gruene and ended our trip with a few days in Austin. Before my mom and I had even left Jamie and I decided we had to do a Texas themed post and share some favorite part of Texas culture with y’all.
Needless to say, much of the food in Texas is heavily influenced by Mexican cooking. We had a BBQ pulled pork sandwich in Luckenbach, TX that may have been the highlight of the trip. But really, we were eating tacos and tortillas all the day long.
You can find just about anything in New York if you look for it. Some things are a little tricky to find. The Mexican influence on this side of the country however, is not. A quick trip on the 7 train to Queens and Jamie and I found a strong dose of local Mexican culture just a few subway stops away. Ok, it was quite a few stops! But between the Mexican bakeries, hair salons and shops overflowing with piñatas and Mexican candles, it was, quite literally, one of the most colorful neighborhoods I have ever visited in New York.
Jamie and I had quite the adventure. We had a little lunch at Tortilleria Nixtamal and bought some of their incredible homemade corn tortillas to fry up for our soup; we chatted with some locals in the bakery and had some delicious flan for dessert; and met some lovely local ladies who sold Mexican candles. These women told us about the mystical power of the candles and graciously gave me some rose petals and a pink candle to cure me of my single-girl-in-new-york-city-curse. We’ll see if it works…
For our post, we decided on a little Tex meets Mex. Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorite things. Not exactly sure how authentic it is, but it is delicious and certainly a staple at Mexican restaurants in the US. Forgoing our farmer’s market for a Mexican market, we were able to get a local chicken (heads and feet intact!) and all the fixings for our soup. Much like eggs, this is the best time of year to buy chicken. Most people don’t think of meat as a seasonal ingredient, but it absolutely is! Spring chickens are especially tasty and local chickens are everywhere this time of year. Definitely seek them out next time you’re at the greenmarket or your local butcher!
I’m not going to lie, this soup is a lot of work. It has a bunch of steps and is a bit time consuming. But as with all cooking, I believe it is a labor of love. This is a really delicious, light and spicy soup and the toppings are the best part. A little ode to Texas, Mexico, and our beloved New York.
- 1 whole chicken (head and feet not required), about 4 pounds
- 1 white onions
- 2 carrots
- 3 cloves garlic
- cilantro, few springs
- peppercorns, small palmful
- 1 bay leaf
Place all of the ingredients in a large stock pot. Add enough cold water to cover the chicken by 1”. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Skim any foam that may rise to the surface. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and starting to fall from the bone, about 1 hour.
- 6 plum tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 dried chile de arbol
- 2 dried chipotle chilies (or more, if you can take the heat!)
- 1 small white onion, finely chopped
- 8 Corn tortillas, cut into strips, fried and salted (or store bought corn tortilla chips)
- Avocado, diced
- Queso Freso
- Cilantro, chopped
Meanwhile, bring a medium size pot of water to boil then reduce to a light simmer. Remove the stems from the chilies and make a cut lengthwise down the side of the chile. Using the end of a small knife, gently scrape out the seeds and veins. Be careful! The chilies (seeds, in particular) are extremely hot and will burn burn burn your eyes and skin if you’re not careful. Use gloves or be sure to wash your hands with soap and water after you’ve seeded the chilies. In a small saute pan over medium heat, carefully toast the chilies. Constantly move them around in the pan just until they become fragrant, about 30 seconds. Place the chilies in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Cover with cling wrap and leave to fully rehydrate, about 15 minutes.
Make sure there is enough water left in the pot to cover the tomatoes. If not, add water as necessary and keep at a low simmer. Mark the bottom of each tomato with a small x and place in the simmering water very briefly, about 15 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, peel the skins from the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds with a spoon and discard, then roughly chop the tomatoes. Place the chopped tomatoes, garlic and rehydrated chilies in a food processor and puree until completely smooth. Set aside.
Back to the stock. When ready, place a colander over a large bowl. Strain the stock into the bowl. Give the soup pot a quick rinse and scrub, then pour the stock back in to the pot. When cool enough to handle, discard the solids and pick through the chicken discarding any skin or bones. Tear the meat into bite size pieces and return to the stock pot. Taste for seasoning, adding salt as necessary. Bring back to a light simmer. Add the chile and tomato puree and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Add the chopped white onion and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Finally! Ladle the soup in to bowls. Top with chunks of avocado, crumbled queso fresco, chopped cilantro and crispy corn tortilla strips. Eat immediately!
~ Recipe and words by Food Stylist, Molly Shuster. Photography FromMeToYou.
An ongoing collaboration, please do see more recipes from our series!