The Recipe

Mexican Chili Pepper Soup

caldo tlalpeño

As Azminda Cancino Garcia, from Cuarnabaca, Mexico, taught Lindsay Sterling in Yarmouth, ME March 2012

Serves 6
Cooking time: 1 hr

6 pieces skinless chicken, legs and thighs
1 tsp salt
5-6 dried guajillo (uhajillo) chilis (substitute any large, mild, red dried chili)
1 1/2 cups white rice
6 red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 tomatillos, peeled of the papery layer and halved
1 1/2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 dried habaneros, rinsed (optional)
2 dried chipotle peppers, rinsed
1/2 cactus pear, skin trimmed off and flesh cut into 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
1 Tbsp epazote (optional)
6 lime wedges
6-12 tortillas and 2 cups frying oil (vegetable, corn, or peanut) or a bag of tortilla chips

In a soup pot, cover chicken with 3 inches of water, add 1 tsp salt, and turn on medium heat. Simmer until chicken is cooked. In the meantime, break the tops off the peppers and shake the seeds out (to discard). Soak skins in water to soften, about ten minutes. Cook rice separately by directions on package. When chicken is cooked through, add potatoes. Into a blender add tomatillos, chili peppers, and 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth. Pour chili-tomatillo mixture through a mesh strainer into the soup broth, and discard the solids left in the strainer. Rinse dried chipotle and habanero peppers and put them in the soup whole. Add cactus pear, bouillon, and epazote. Taste, and add more bouillon or salt if it tastes less than awesome. Heat oil in pan large enough to fit tortillas and line a platter or sheet pan with paper towels. Once oil is hot, add 1 or 2 tortillas at a time. Flip each after a couple minutes. When they are golden brown and stop bubbling, remove from oil and place on paper towel. Do the rest of the tortillas. Sprinkle all with salt. Serve soup with lime wedges, fried tortillas (or tortilla chips) and rice. Alternate bites of soup with bites of tortilla chip.

Copyright Lindsay Sterling 2012