Aired March 2, 2008
Juice of 2 limes, divided
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large or 4 medium bell peppers, seeds removed and sliced
1 to 2 large red onions, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed from stems
1 cup Mexican beer, or an additional cup chicken stock
1 15-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
Hot sauce to taste
6 flour tortillas (6- to 8-inches in diameter)
2 handfuls cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)
In a shallow bowl combine the chicken strips with the juice of 1 lime, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Let the chicken marinate while you cut the veggies for the soup.
Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan vegetable oil, about 2 tablespoons. Heat the oil until it just starts to smoke and carefully add the marinated chicken to the pot, spreading it out in an even layer (the oil can have a nasty attitude and spit at you so be careful). Let it brown up completely on one side before moving the pieces.
Add the peppers, onion, garlic and thyme to the pot and cook a couple of minutes, until the veggies just start to get tender. Add the beer or stock, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot; then the stewed tomatoes, chicken stock and some hot sauce to taste. Bring up to a bubble and simmer while you prepare the tortillas.
If you have a gas cooking range, turn the flame to medium and, using tongs, place the tortilla right on top of the flame. Turn it and flip it until it starts to blister on both sides -- dont walk away, this needs your full attention!
If you don't have a gas range, place a medium to large dry skillet over high heat and, working with one tortilla at a time, blister them in the skillet on both sides. As you blister each tortilla, stack and wrap them in a kitchen towel to keep them warm and pliable.
Once all the tortillas have been blistered, cut the stack in half, stack the two halves on top of each other and slice into short thin strips. Divide the strips between 4 serving bowls and reserve while you finish the soup.
Add more hot sauce, salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup over the tortillas and top with some cilantro, diced avocado, additional lime juice, shredded cheddar and/or sour cream.