The Main Menu: Escape to Mexico with this lime and tortilla soup

Avocados are a key ingredient in guacamole.

By JAN MAIN

While spring is officially here, winter weather persists. This means you need to make an escape to somewhere, anywhere with warmth, sun and blue skies. As a Canadian snow bird, you may be able to make a quick exit to a warmer clime.

However, if work and duty rules, a trip away may not be possible. However, tantalizing memories of this soup served often in various guises across Mexico may transport you to this tantalizing country and happy memories.

Lime and Tortilla Soup

All the flavours of Mexico are here: the heat of chili, the tang of lime and sweet of corn, all are evocative of Mexican crops. Serve this hearty soup with a bowl of guacamole and corn chips for dipping and of course, a glass of Mesquil – you are there!

1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp (25 mL) vegetable oil
1/2 each red, orange and yellow sweet peppers, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) chopped cooked chicken or turkey
4 cups (1 L) chicken stock
2 limes, grated zest and juice
1 bay leaf
Chili flakes to taste
Corn or wheat tortillas
Vegetable oil

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat and cook onion and garlic covered until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in peppers, chicken, chicken stock, lime rind and bay leaf. Bring to boil and simmer about 20 minutes. Taste. Add chili flakes to taste. Stir in reserved lime juice. Meanwhile, heat oven to 350 F (180 C). Brush corn tortillas with vegetable oil.

Cut 2 tortillas into thin strips (about ¼ inch/ 6mm) and arrange on parchment lined baking sheet in single layer. Cut the remaining tortillas into quarters and arrange on baking sheet in single layer. Bake about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Ladle soup into 4 bowls and add the cooked tortilla strips to soup accompanied by a basket of the warm corn chips and guacamole. Makes 4 servings.

Guacamole

Avocados are in season in Mexico now. Make the most of their sweet, distinctive taste with this classic Mexican dip, guacamole. Choose avocados that are ripe: that is they give to the pressure of your hand and feel soft.

To open an avocado, run a sharp paring knife around the lengthwise circumference of the avocado until the knife hits the central pit; twist avocado and separate. Remove the pit and scoop the tender avocado meat out with a spoon into a bowl to make guacamole.

1 large or 2 smaller avocado, separated and scooped out (as above)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely minced onion
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 sweet pepper, red, yellow or orange finely diced
1-2 tbsp (15 mL-25 mL) hot pepper, such as jalapeno or to taste
2 limes, juice and finely grated zest
2 tbsp (25 mL) finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) optional
1 tsp (5 mL) salt

In a mixing bowl, mash avocado with a fork until smooth. Beat in garlic, onion, tomato, sweet pepper, hot pepper, lime juice, zest and coriander if using and salt until mixture is well combined. Spoon into serving bowl and surround with tortilla or corn chips to serve immediately.

Dip may be made a few hours before serving; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time then serve as described. Makes about 2 cups (500 mL).


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