The weather has turned here in Madrid. Recent early morning walks with Leila entail first, convincing us both that going outside is a good idea, then bundling up. The latter applies to me only, for now. Leila's fur coat is good until about freezing, after which she gets a man-made layer. ;-)
But if our mornings start with a chilly walk, our evenings (mine, not Leila's) end with a cozy bowl of soup. And this tortilla soup is often what makes that bowl cozy. Cumin, chipotles in adobo, and chipotle chili powder bring a welcome amount of smokiness to this soup, while green lentils, hominy, sweet potato, and the toppings make it a complete and hearty meal.
This is one of my favorite meals of all time. And I'm happy globalization makes Mexican ingredients accessible in so many places now. Even in the little city in Switzerland where we lived before, I could find everything thanks to el Sabor. And here my local large Carrefour carries essentials like hominy, chipotles in adobo, and salsa verde. If you're in the U.S. I doubt you'll have much trouble sourcing. But wherever you live, if you can't find certain ingredients see the recipe headnotes for substitutions.
I really hope you make this one! It's a bit spicy and a lot warming, perfect to welcome in the cold weather.
Chipotle Tortilla Soup
Notes: Recipe calls for chipotle chili powder, which is the predominate flavor of the dish. If you can't find chipotle chili powder, use 2 tsp. smoked paprika + 2 tsp. regular chili powder. You may substitute chickpeas for hominy, if necessary. Cooking time of soaked lentils aligns with that of sweet potatoes (~15 minutes). Non-soaked lentils cook in ~25 minutes and will need a 10 minute head start before adding sweet potatoes.
- Knob of ghee or coconut oil
- 1 small bunch cilantro (20 gr), leaves and tender stems
- 1 small onion
- 1 large (400 gr) sweet potato (~3 cups, chopped)
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp. chipotle chili powder (or 2 tsp. smoked paprika + 2 tsp. chili powder)
- 1 Tbsp. adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo (or more to taste)
- 1-15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
- 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 cup (220 gr) green lentils, soaked overnight, drained & rinsed
- 2 15-oz. (425 gr.) cans of hominy, drained & rinsed
- 1 lime
- Toppings (choose some or all): toasted tortilla strips*, toasted pumpkin seeds, avocado or guacamole, reserved cilantro leaves, feta or queso fresco, lime wedges
- Trim any woody ends away from cilantro stems and finely slice soft stems until you reach the bulk of leaves. Reserve leaves for topping.
- Dice onion and cut sweet potato into bite-size chunks (1/2 in. or 1.3 cm). If sweet potato is cut too small, it will cook too quickly and become mushy.
- Heat ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add cilantro stems, onion, cumin, and chipotle chili powder. Saute for a few minutes until onions are beginning to soften. Add a splash of water when the pan gets too dry.
- Stir in adobo sauce, tomatoes, and stock. Cover pan, bring to a boil, and add green lentils and sweet potato. Reduce to simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, until lentils are al dente and sweet potato is cooked but not mushy. Add hominy with 5 minutes remaining.
- Stir in juice of 1/2 lime and taste for seasoning, adding more adobo sauce, lime, or salt if needed.
- Ladle into bowls and top with some or all of toppings. (I suggest all!)
*Making tortilla strips: Set oven to broil. Slice tortillas into strips and place on baking sheet. Add some salt and melted ghee, coconut oil, or avocado oil and toss. Spread out evenly so strips don't overlap. Place pan in middle of oven. Cook 5-7 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until lightly golden brown and crisp.