Soup With Crunch

DEAR SOS: The El Torito Mexican restaurant chain in Los Angeles serves the most delicious tortilla soup. Would the chain share the recipe?


DEAR MARION: The El Torito people complied with dispatch. The recipe is for 12 servings, not six. You can, if you wish, halve the recipe, but I advise against it. Flavors do alter when seasonings are tampered with. You can, instead, make the full batch and freeze what is not used for later use.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 quarts chicken broth

1 red onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 boiling potato, diced

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 bay leaf

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon pureed chipotle chile en adobo

1 teaspoon seeded, chopped pickled jalapeno chile

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

1/8 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

White pepper to taste

1 zucchini, diced

1 yellow squash, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

Juice from 1 lime

2 tablespoons sweet Sherry (preferably Harvey's Bristol)

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips


1/2 pound Jack cheese, shredded

12 slices avocado

Cilantro sprigs

Poach chicken breast in simmering chicken broth until done through, about 10 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle and shred.

Combine chicken broth, chicken, red onion, carrots, potato, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, chipotle and jalapeno chiles, oregano, cumin and salt and pepper in large saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Add zucchini, squash, pepper, lime juice and Sherry. Bring again to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Add cilantro and mint. Stir, then remove from heat.

To assemble, fry tortilla strips in hot oil until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Ladle soup into each bowl. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and tortilla strips. Garnish each bowl with avocado slice and sprig cilantro. Serve at once.

Note: Soup may be frozen in batches if desired.

Makes 12 servings.

Each serving contains about:

230 calories; 941 mg sodium; 26 mg cholesterol; 13 grams fat; 12 grams carbohydrates; 15 grams protein; 1.18 grams fiber.

'71 Winner Reappears

DEAR SOS: Many years ago you printed a recipe for mushroom casserole. I remember layering pieces of bread, mushrooms and possibly mushroom soup. Can you help?


DEAR KEN: This casserole was an entry from Mrs. Robert M. Frawley of Anaheim for a My Best Recipe prize in 1971. It makes a great side dish to a roast or grilled meats.


1 pound mushrooms


8 slices white bread

1/2 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 cup mayonnaise

3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 1/2 cups milk

1 can mushroom soup

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Slice mushrooms and cook in about 1/4 cup butter until most of liquid is absorbed. Butter bread slices. Cut 3 slices bread into 1-inch squares and place in bottom of greased shallow casserole. Combine mushrooms, onion, celery, green pepper, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to mix. Turn half mushroom mixture into casserole. Cut 3 more bread slices into squares and place on top of mushrooms. Top with remaining mushroom mixture. Combine eggs and milk and pour into casserole. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or longer. Pour mushroom soup over casserole, then dice remaining 2 bread slices and place on top of soup. Bake at 350 degrees until set, 40 to 50 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle cheese over top of casserole and bake 10 minutes longer.

Makes 8 servings.

Each serving contains about:

292 calories; 897 mg sodium; 86 mg cholesterol; 17 grams fat; 26 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 0.69 gram fiber.

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