As one of the founders of the French Laundry, chef Sally Schmitt is one of the pioneers of California cuisine, and her tortilla soup reflects her place in the state’s culinary history. By swapping in tomatillos for the more common tomatoes and pairing them with citrus, Schmitt brings bright tangy notes to this simple soup. Its simplicity highlights the freshness of the produce and the warming comfort of tortillas that thicken and enrich the broth.
Put the cumin seeds in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking the pan often, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the oil, onion, garlic, tortillas and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and garlic soften a little, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the tomatillos, orange zest and juice and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste again.
Divide the soup among serving bowls and top with roasted pepper strips, sour cream, pepitas and cilantro. Serve immediately.
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