Wednesday, February 25, 2009

caldo tlalpeño

Last night's dinner caused me to do some research on its name to find out where it came from.

Tlalpan is a municipality of the Mexican 'Distrito Federal': an independent self-governing area, separate from the rest of Mexico. The majority of Mexico City is located within the Federal District. The main indigenous language in Tlalpan was an uto-Aztecan language called Nahuatl, from which the word "tlalli" gave rise to Tlalpan's meaning "on the land".

This ancient borough is the source of a wonderful, light and sour soup which one could almost describe as Mexico's answer to tom yum.

The soup uses chipotle chillies, which for Australians are considerably hard to come by. My supplier is Fireworks Foods, an online store selling all things spicy, including seeds for rare chilli plants. Prices are very reasonable and delivery is swift.

For the uninitiated, chipotle are smoked jalapenos. The ones used in this recipe are those coming from a can with adobo sauce, so they're sweet, smoky and moist. You only use a few chillies in this recipe, so I freeze the remainder, individually wrapped, in a big freezer bag so I can access them in small portions in future.

We cook a vegetarian version, but traditionally this soup uses a rich chicken stock and chicken meat that has been fried then shredded. You can use this method if you prefer, or even add the chicken afterwards (which is what I usually do).

We were introduced to this soup by our wonderful friends: Mexican Robot and his honorary Mexican lady, Bicky.

Caldo Tlalpeño (Chipotle, Lime & Avocado Broth)

Vicky & Roberto's delicious recipe serves 3 main, 5 entrée

1.6 litres rich vegetable stock
½ white onion, diced finely
1 carrot, cubed
400g can mixed beans (kidney, lima, chickpeas etc)
1-2 chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, depending on your taste
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Juice of 2 limes
1 avocado, cubed
2 corn tortillas (or flour)
2 tablespoons coriander, roughly chopped
Olive oil for frying

1. In a pot with a little oil, sauté garlic and onion until transparent.
2. Add stock and carrot and cook until carrot is tender (give or take 20 minutes).
3. Meanwhile, slice tortillas into thin strips. Fry in oil until crispy.
4. Add chilli and beans then cook until warmed through and tender.
5. In serving bowls divide the lime juice and avocado cubes. Top with soup then coriander. Pass tortilla croutons separately.

Note: traditionally the soup uses chicken stock and shredded chicken poached in the broth.


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