Sunday, October 18, 2009

chicken tortilla soup

  • 1 ripe avocado, cut into small pieces
  • 2 ancho chili peppers, seeded
  • 5 large tomatoes
  • roasted chicken, torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 white onion, chopped fine
  • cilantro, chopped fine
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • tortilla strips

In food processor pulse tomatoes and peppers until smooth. Combine mixture with tomato soup and cook over a medium low flame for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine avocado, chicken, onion, cilantro and tortilla strips in bowl, pour soup mixture over it and serve immediately. Note- if you can't find tortilla strips in the supermarket, look in either the produce section or near the salad dressings.

The dish: It's common to say that when people move from New York to points south their blood thins. I never saw evidence of this fact quite as astounding as when I was in Fort Lauderdale last August and had dinner with a good friend who is an empire state expatriate. As I was trying to battle the heat in shorts and sandals, he sat coolly in jeans and ordered the soup. I thought he was nuts until it was brought out; a bowl of fresh ingredients was placed in front of him as the attentive waiter poured a steamy tomato based liquid from a ceramic basin. It looked and smelled delicious enough that I immediately ordered my own bowl, and was amazed at the taste. We were sitting in Bar Zen, looking out on the rain forest garden that was home for the resident swans at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure. Real life returned for my friend who had to go home and go to work the next day, but Kim and I hung around awhile longer; me reading by the pool while she got pampered behind the red door. Our stay was just what we needed to re-charge and relax, and the Bonaventure did a great job of making sure we did just that. We had many great meals there, and they all began with a bowl of tortilla soup. We've since been to a few other Hyatts and have tried the tortilla soup when it's available, and they're all good, but the Bonaventure is the best. I suspect that the chef at the Hyatt skips using Andy Warhol's favorite subject and instead achieves a velvety texture by adding crumbled corn tortillas to the simmering tomatoes, but I'm not sure. Either way, this was made on a weeknight when my own real life beckoned and I had to take a short cut. It was enjoyable, but certainly not as good as the Bonaventure's. We're booked to return for a long weekend in January, so I'm sure on those chilly Florida winter nights when it dips into the 60s, we'll enjoy many bowls of tortilla soup.

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