Note: I was provided with sample IMUSA products (which can be purchased here) to test out in writing this blog post, but was not otherwise compensated.
Did you know that it’s Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15-October 15)? I didn’t either, at least not before the folks at IMUSA USA contacted me and told me about it. This was an exciting development for me, because, as you might have guessed from the many posts I’ve written about the topic (here, here, here and here), I love tacos. They’re kind of the perfect food. There’s a soft wrapper, lots of delicious meat action and, if you’re doing it right, heaps of fresh toppings and spicy salsas galore. What’s not to like? In addition to the many great reasons to celebrate Hispanic heritage, having a sanctioned reason to be all about tacos for an entire month is just about too much for my homemade tortilla-filled heart to bear.
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month (and justification for #allthetacos), today IMUSA is offering a giveaway of a set of mini molcajetes and a tortilla press to one lucky Grits & Chopsticks reader. In addition, I’m sharing some simple instructions on how to use a IMUSA tortilla press to make your own hearty corn tortillas to accent this chicken tortilla soup.
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I used to be intimated by homemade tortillas, which are really crucial to a rustic homemade chicken tortilla soup. That changed when we invited an au pair to join our family nearly a year and a half ago (she watches the children while the hubby and I work; for more information about what an au pair is, click here). She’s from Costa Rica, and she’s been a wonderful addition to our family. Since au pairs can only stay here for two years, I will be a hot bowl of tears when she has to leave us next year. But that’s beside the point. Among the many things she’s taught the kids, she also has showed me how easy it is to make tortillas. We use Maseca instant corn flour, which just requires the addition of water to the instant flour to make an instant dough. It’s taken me a few times to get the hang of the consistency the dough should be before pressing the tortillas (hint: it should feel like play dough — pliable but not gummy), but tortilla-making is easy enough for everyone.
See? That’s Meimei, happily plugging away at mixing together water and Maseca corn flour. We already owned a tortilla press before IMUSA sent me theirs, but IMUSA’s has our old one beat. It’s lightweight, which means that even Meimei, at the ripe old age of two, can handle pressing the handle down to create little tortillas. Sure, there’s lots of other messes to be made. For one, she doesn’t always use parchment paper, which means that I end up scraping sticky globs of dough off of the gleaming metal surface of the tortilla press. She also doesn’t listen to her mother in not eating too much dough, which means we always end up making fewer tortillas than we expected. It’s no big deal, though. I guess one way or another, she gets tortilla in her belly.
As for chicken tortilla soup, it’s shockingly easy to make. In fact, I threw this chicken tortilla soup together on a weeknight, browning some chicken drumsticks (although you could use a mixture of thighs and breasts) and swirling together chicken broth, canned tomatoes and spices to simmer while I made the tortillas. I like making my tortilla soup simple, with just a few basic spices (cumin, smoked paprika, a bay leaf) and tomatoes. The fun comes with the toppings — lightly crisped tortillas, fresh slices of avocado, jalapeño, cilantro, radishes and squeezes of lime.
IMUSA also sent me one of their caldero stock pots to try out. It’s made out of lightweight aluminum, a cheery red color and a glass lid. I liked the lightness of the pot, which made pouring and transferring the pot between burners a breeze. The chicken for my chicken tortilla soup, which I browned directly in the caldero before adding chicken stock to make my soup, cooked up nicely, browning to a satisfying golden-brown color without much effort.
Still, the lightness of the caldero worried me, and I found myself wondering about its long-term durability, especially in contrast to my other enameled cast iron and cast iron pots, which feel like could survive nuclear winter. As far as cooking temperature and evenness, I didn’t notice any hot spots or uneven cooking, even when I cranked up my gas burner to high. In sum, think IMUSA’s caldero is an attractive, affordable option to a home cook on a budget or who is looking to expand their basic pots into something with more capacity.
The chicken tortilla soup turned out to be a great “choose your own adventure” kind of meal. When I presented the soup with a variety of toppings, my family clamored to heap their steaming bowls of hearty soup with tortilla strips, lime, radishes, and whatever else they could get their paws on. Meimei, confused at the liquidity of what she thought were going to be tacos, insisted on sour cream (which she usually gets), so a dollop went into hers.
Given how hard she worked on making our tortillas, I was only too happy to oblige.
To win your own tortilla press and mini molcajetes from IMUSA (a total value of $100), head over to my Instagram profile and follow the instructions on the photo of the chicken tortilla soup! U.S. winners only; giveaway ends 9/29/2015.
- For the soup:
- 6-7 chicken skinless drumsticks (or 1.5 pounds of a mix of chicken breast/skinless thighs/skinless drumsticks)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
- 4 radishes, rinsed, greens removed and sliced thinly
- ½ cup loosely-packed cilantro, stems removed and minced
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced
- For the tortillas:
- 2 cups Maseca instant corn flour
- 1¼ cup water
- ¼ tbsp salt
- Make the soup: heat olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy stockpot. Add onions, cumin and smoked paprika. Saute onions and spices together until onion is soft and spices are incorporated, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and stir for one more minute.
- Turn heat up to medium-high heat and add chicken. Sear on all sides for 1-2 minutes to brown, then add chicken broth, tomatoes and bay leaf.
- Bring to boil, then turn down heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes until chicken is tender and falling apart.
- While the soup is simmering, make the tortillas: mix together water, corn flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir to incorporate corn flour, water and salt until it forms a soft dough. Roll the dough into 2-3 inch balls, then place on a tortilla press lined with parchment paper (or roll out with a rolling pin). Press tortillas into 6-inch round disks. Heat an oiled pan over medium-high heat and cook tortillas in batches, 2-3 minutes a side, until each side is slightly browned and just slightly crispy. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely to keep warm.
- When chicken is almost cooked through, add black beans to the soup, stirring for another 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low.
- Using tongs, remove chicken from soup and let cool slightly. Using forks, shred chicken, discarding bones. Return chicken to the pot and stir to incorporate. Add salt and pepper.
- Remove soup from heat and spoon into bowls. Cut tortillas into strips and use as a garnish for the soup. Serve with radishes, avocados, lime, cilantro and jalapeño on the side.
Inspiration for this recipe came from this Food Network recipe