Norman Van Aken, © 2001
This soup takes a hard left as you head south out of North America and presents a Caribbean flavored chicken with one of the classic soups of Mexico.
This nourishing and restorative soup does require one simple caveat. It can be made well in advance but it should be assembled at the table so that the guests as intended experience the magical textures. The preferred dish to serve this in should be a somewhat flat styled bowl so that the crispness of the tortilla strips is allowed to prevail.
Yield: Serves 8 as main course
2 ¼ Cups of the “Sugarcane Marinade”
One 3 - 3 ½ pound whole chicken cut into parts
½ Cup “Roasted Garlic Oil”
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 jalapeno or serrano chilies, stemmed seeded and minced
9 Cups chicken stock
4-5 Corn tortillas cut into very thin strips
2 poblano chilies, roasted, stemmed, seeded and cut into a small dice
40 “grape” tomatoes quartered, or 20 cherry tomatoes cut in 6 – 8 pieces
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced at the last moment
¼ Cup chopped Cilantro Sprigs or Mexican Marigold
Lime wedges, optional
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Place them in a large zippered plastic bag. Add 1 ½ Cups of the Sugarcane Marinade to the bag and coat the chicken well. Save the remaining ¾ Cup of the marinade for heating up with the shredded chicken later.
The next day preheat the oven to 350º
Take the chicken out of the marinade and place in a roasting pan and cook the chicken for about 25 - 35 minutes, until you can pierce the thigh and the juices run clear. When it is just cool enough to handle shred the meat off the bones (you should have approximately 3-4 Cups of cleaned meat). Season with salt and pepper and toss with the remaining cup of marinade. Toss and bring to a simmer and reduce until almost no liquid remains (about 20 minutes).
Place 2 Tablespoons of the oil in a heavy pot and add the garlic over very low heat. Slowly sauté for about 10 minutes to soften the garlic, making sure not to brown. Add the jalapeno and cook 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and keep warm. Season with salt and pepper. Reserve.
Heat ¼ Cup of the garlic oil in a large, heavy skillet. When the oil is hot scatter in the tortilla strips and cook until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper toweling, season with salt and pepper and reserve.
Dress the poblano, tomatoes, avocado and cilantro in a bowl with 2 Tablespoons of the oil and some salt and pepper.
Divide the chicken between 8 soup bowls. Divide the avocado mixture between the soup plates. Ladle the broth over the chicken and avocado mixture. Garnish with the corn tortilla strips and squeeze a lime wedge into each bowl. Serve with sour cream on the side.