Total time: 55 minutes
Note: From Cafe Verde in Pasadena. Look for ground dried ancho chiles (sometimes labeled pasillo) in the spice section of selected markets, especially Latino markets.
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 large white onion, peeled
6 whole corn tortillas, plus 2 more cut into thin strips and fried for garnish
2 dried ancho chiles
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup vegetable stock, or more to taste
1 quart water
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground dried ancho chiles, or more to taste
1/2 cup sour cream
1. In batches, on a grill or rack (such as a cooling rack) over an open stovetop flame, roast the tomatoes, onion and whole tortillas until lightly spotted with brown, then roast the chiles for a few seconds (after which they'll start to burn). Break the tortillas into pieces.
2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic cloves and saute over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Add the onion, chiles, tortilla pieces, bay leaf and cilantro. Cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add the tomato juice, stock and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat and, using a blending wand or blender, puree the mixture, in batches if necessary, until smooth. Strain the mixture through a sieve, pressing on the solids; discard the solids.
5. Return the soup to the cleaned pan and add salt, white pepper and ground chile. Rewarm the soup; if it seems too thick, stir in additional stock or water. Garnish with fried tortilla strips and sour cream.
Each serving: 272 calories; 6 grams protein; 33 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 13 mg. cholesterol; 1,197 mg. sodium.