Cooking with Luisa – Sopa de Tortilla

I recently spent a wonderful afternoon cooking with my friend Luisa.  Her daughter and Ria are classmates and the family hails from Mexico.  When Luisa generously offered to teach me some of her daughter’s favorite home-cooked Mexican dishes, I jumped at the opportunity.

This tortilla soup is out of this world good.  It’s like nothing I have had at any restaurant.  Home-cooking rules!  This is Luisa’s mother’s recipe and came out of a beautiful hand-written notebook with lovely penmanship (who has that anymore).  My next cooking session may have to be with Luisa’s mother.

Epazote – the main herb used in the soup has no substitute.  It can be bought at Mexican groceries in the Mission.  Luisa recommends Casa Lucas Market.  If you cannot track it down and don’t want to trek to the Mission, leave it out.  Queso fresco and corn tortillas are available at your regular supermarket these days (Safeway carries both).  To quote Luisa, “Whatever you do, do not use the orange “Mexican” blend they sell, that is NOT Mexican”.  I hear you girlfriend, cheese should not be bright orange. If it is, it ain’t from your country.

Sopa De Tortilla


Serves 2 adults and 2 kids

4 tomatoes (plum ok)
¼ onion
1 clove garlic
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

Rough chop tomatoes, onion & garlic and puree in blender.  Using a sieve (to remove skin and seeds) transfer blended mix directly into the pot  (with heated oil) you will cook the soup in.  Make sure the oil is not too hot and be careful as there will be some splashing.

2 stalks epazote leaves (optional)
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock (doesn’t have to be homemade)

Add stock and epazote to pureed and strained mixture and boil for 6 – 8 minutes.

5 – 6 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips (or use one to two cups of crushed tortilla chips)
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Meanwhile, shallow fry tortilla strips till golden crisp  (yum, try not to eat right away ☺ )

Garnishes – (kids will enjoy picking and choosing their own)
Chopped Avocado
Sour Cream
Queso Fresco (Feta is a reasonable substitute)
Chiccarones–Fried Pork Rinds (optional – yummy, fatty and salty.  According to Luisa eating this with guacamole is yummm.  I really don’t need any more of these ideas)
Diced chicken (optional – to make a more substantial meal)

Pour soup into a bowl and add a handful of fried tortilla strips.  Garnish as you please.  Heaven in a bowl.

When Ria tried it – she did not even have words to describe the soup – she just vigorously nodded her head in approval and opened her mouth for more.  Muchas Gracias Luisa!

15 thoughts on “Cooking with Luisa – Sopa de Tortilla

  1. Someone is going to get pretty competitive when he sees this recipe. Iqbal made Chicken Tortilla soup last week, complete with Queso Fresco, Tortilla strips, Avocado, Diced Chicken and (this will win you over) Chopped Chipotle Chilli. It all started with scratch scratch…chicken feet! Kids loved it & I got that “You don’t know what you are missing look”…

  2. Vegetarian version? How do you take the chicken out of chicken tortilla soup? I do wish Soup company would figure out how to make it because everyone raves about it on cold days and it just looks like something you would want to eat on a cold day.

  3. A good source for Mexican and Latin foods and ingredients is Foods Co, located at 1800 Folsom St (between 14th St & 15th St) in San Francisco. It looks a bit trashy from outside, but they cater to Latinos and have a good selection of herbs and spices, not to mention funkier pieces of meat, such as tripe or pig’s knuckles. It has a big parking lot and is close to Rainbow Grocery and sells food at discounted prices, so what’s not to love.

  4. hmm..felt like fate…i read this recipe and was only a block away from casa lucas market! epazote was mine! but…it ended up being a pretty watery soup – and we only used 3/4 of the stock recommended. definitely needed s&p, too. we also added some black beans for some extra heft. yummy flavors, though, and very simple to prepare!

  5. Sounds delicious. I have no idea if I can get epazote or Queso Fresco up here (Halifax, Nova Scotia) but I will ask around. Grocery stores these days sell almost everything.

  6. Pingback: Lava soup « Finian&Teo Weblog

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