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!