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January Soup Medley Recipe

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To start out the New Year, we're offering up six incredibly delicious, authentic Mexican soups to make for your family.

I love to make soup when it's cold outside. For one thing-one pot can feed the entire family-twice over. Soup makes a substantial, well-balanced meal. Serve it with quesadillas (corn or flour tortillas with melted cheese inside) or just plain old tortillas and butter, you have yourself a complete meal-with enough leftovers for an entire second round! And I swear, the soup's always better the second time around.



Hint: if you don't like to eat the same thing two days in a row, then freeze your leftover soup and thaw it out another night when you don't feel like cooking!



The six soups you can choose from this week are: Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup), Lentil Soup Borracho (Drunken Lentil Soup), Menudo and Pozole (Tripe or Pork and Chicken Soup with Hominy, vegetables and spices), Restaurant Pancho's Tortilla Soup and Green Chile New Mexico Style. All are guaranteed to be yummy, tummy warmers!



ALBONDIGAS SOUP



Albondigas, or Mexican Meatball Soup is a robust, tasty soup that can be served alone as a meal or as a first course. It's delicious and as typically Mexican as tortillas and beans. This recipe came from my mother's collection. In the late '60s, as my dad was finishing up construction on our family's "dream house," she flew off to Guadalajara, San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City with my dad's youngest sister, my Aunt Joan. The purpose of their trip was to decorate the new house. They had a major blast together, traipsing all over the place hunting up beautiful, finely crafted furniture, ordering custom handmade rugs and ferreting out folk art from all the different regions of Mexico. My mom's main goal was to find a hand-carved front door from the mission era. She found one, all right. In San Miguel de Allende. And she had it shipped home, along with the rest of her purchases. My parents don't own that dream house anymore, but I do know that the Mexican door still graces the house where I spent my teenage years.



My mom claims that she combined a hastily scribbled list of ingredients (in Spanish of course) given her and Joan by a waiter in the El Presidente Hotel dining room in Mexico City on that trip with a recipe she conned from a waiter at Caesar's in Tijuana to come up with this soup. If she's telling the truth, then this soup is a hybrid from two internationally famous, historic Mexican restaurants. She modified it some herself, so that it's easier to make. Try it. You're guaranteed to love it! So will everyone else. Serves eight.

2 quarts beef broth
6 corn tortillas, cut in strips and fried
1 - 1 pound 12 ounce can pureed tomatoes
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
2 bay leaves
1/2 to 1 cup salsa fresca
1 lb ground beef
1 cup cooked white rice
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In Dutch oven, place beef broth, pureed tomatoes, half the onion and garlic, spices and salsa. Heat to boiling on high, then cover and reduce heat to low.



In large bowl, mix ground beef with cooked rice, the remaining onion and garlic, salt and pepper. Form into meatballs. Fry in a skillet until done. Drain. Add meatballs to broth and simmer for two to three hours. Immediately prior to serving add the fried tortilla chips. This soup may be kept in the refrigerator several days or part of it may be frozen for later use.



LENTIL SOUP BORRACHO



Uh Oh. Here it is. The concoction that just may transform you into an instant expatriate. Drunken Lentil Soup -- now that's a name that really heats up the imagination! Seriously, though -- I've never really heard of anyone running off into the wild yonders of Baja after indulging in this soup! In fact, it's superb in cold weather and has been one of my sister and my favorites forever. (We're still present and accounted for too -- most of the time.) The flavor of the beer greatly enhances this usually very sedate, traditional Mexican soup. So come on. Be brave. Try it! I dare you ....

1 pound lentils, rinsed
4 cups beer
2 cups chicken bouillon
2 cups water
1 cup celery, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, finely diced
1/2 cup lime juice
2 fresh jalapeño or 4 serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro sprigs and lime slices for garnish

Combine lentils, beer, bouillon and water in Dutch oven. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer. Add celery, onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, chiles and spices to soup. Cook one hour, or until lentils are tender. If soup appears overly thick, add water until it has reached a desirable consistency. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and lime slices. Then serve and enjoy!



MENUDO or POZOLE



While Menudo is a traditional Mexican soup that claims to be the nation's number one cure for hangovers (or whatever else ails you!), not everyone can deal with the fact that it's made from tripe. That's okay. There are alternatives, such as Pozole, which is essentially the same soup, but made with chicken and pork in lieu of tripe.



Whichever way you make it, this is a soup that will warm your innards on a chilly Christmas Eve, and leave you feeling full and satisfied, even if you're in Akron, Ohio and not a deserted, windy bluff on the edge of the Pacific Ocean watching the sun sink into the cobalt sea as the last visible pod of gray whales for the day makes their way south in the fading light ....



For Menudo:
3 lb tripe

For Pozole:
2 lb lean pork roast
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

From here on out it's the same for both:
3 onions, chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 4 tbsp American chili powder
3 whole cloves
1- 3 tbsp oregano
6 cups water
4 tbsp chicken bouillon (or more, to taste)
2 16 ounce cans white hominy
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish:
<> 1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup oregano
1 cup cilantro, chopped
1 cup fresh serrano chiles, finely diced (hot! optional)
a sampler of salsas

In a large Dutch oven or crockpot, place first nine ingredients. Heat to boiling and then cover and simmer for four to six hours. Add hominy and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook an additional hour.



To serve, place each garnish in a little bowl and let everyone add whatever they want to their bowls of soup. Sit down and chow down!



RESTAURANT PANCHO'S TORTILLA SOUP

This delectable variation of an old Mexican favorite comes to you straight from Restaurant Pancho's in Cabo San Lucas. When I was asking the owner, Mary Bragg, what she was most famous for, she didn't hesitate one second before telling me, "Why our Tortilla Soup. Of course." My sister, Nina and I promptly ordered some. Since we are both serious fans of tortilla soup, we were curious to see if Mary's would prove to be as memorable as she said.



Guess what?! She was right on. This soup is pure Baja Magic. While most versions I've run across use only one kind of broth, this ones uses two. Chicken broth and salsa ranchera are combined and poured over crunchy, just fried tortilla strips and garnished with sour cream, fresh avocado chunks and cilantro!



This is a true culinary delight. And if you ever get to Cabo, be sure and visit Pancho's. Not only is their food delicious beyond belief, but the restaurant's half palapa and half open air ambience is vintage Baja. And the décor-well, it's as colorful and festive as it comes. Their in-house mariachis play those all-time Mexican favorites like Cielito Lindo, Rancho Grande, La Bamba and Cuando Calienta el Sol like the true pros they are. Serves eight to ten.



Soup:
1/2 chicken
2 quarts water
salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste
4 whole green peppers, thinly sliced
8 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 large, white onions, thinly sliced
2 tbsp dried or fresh oregano, or to taste
6 bay leaves
6 tbsp powdered chicken bouillon (they use Knorr Suiza in Mexico)
4 tbsp olive oil
fresh ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste

Garnishes:
12 corn tortillas, cut into strips about 1/2 inch wide
1/2 cup corn or canola oil
2 avocados, cut into chunks
1 1/2 cup Chihuahua or Jack cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
fresh cilantro, in sprigs

Cook half chicken well seasoned with water for one hour. Remove chicken and cut into chunks. (You should have about two cups of chicken.)



Place peppers, onions and tomatoes in large skillet with the oil and saute until cooked. Add the seasonings and bouillon and cook about a half hour. Adjust seasonings and set aside.



About 20 minutes before serving, combine the chicken and stock with vegetables and heat thoroughly.



Deep fry the tortilla chips and drain on paper towels. Divide among six large soup bowls Place chunks of chicken, avocado and grated cheese in each bowl. Pour two cups soup into each bowl. Float a bit of sour cream on top and garnish with cilantro sprig. Serve immediately and prepare to gloat!



GREEN CHILE NEW MEXICO STYLE



This New Mexico staple is famous all over the southwest, the wild west and northern Mexico. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that Mexico owned the American southwest! This is really more a stew than a soup because it's so substantial. It's simple to prepare and the combination of flavors, after simmering together on your stove and filling your house with their aroma, will tantalize you with their magical taste. Serves eight.

1 1/2 pounds very lean pork, cut in large chunks
4 3 1/2 ounce or 2 7 ounce cans diced green chiles
2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp corn or canola oil
2 quarts beef broth
2 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
2 bay leaves
1/2 to 1 cup salsa verde
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In large Dutch oven saute pork, green chiles, onions and garlic in oil. Stir in beef broth and all other ingredients. Cook over medium high heat until boiling. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for two to three hours. This soup may be kept in the refrigerator several days or part of it may be frozen for later use.



 


Recipe and tips provided by Ann Hazard.



Join author Ann Hazard, as she leads you through four generations of historic Baja culinary adventure. She shares not only her family's favorite travel tales, but also the delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes she has collected and created. By the time you've cooked a meal or two and finished reading the book, you're guaranteed a lasting dose of Baja Magic. The book may even turn your perspective slightly to the South, lighten your heart and forever transform your outlook on life!


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