This is a simple and easy soup to make, yet it sounds incredibly exotic. You can serve it hot, if you use hot chicken broth or vegetable broth to puree with the avocado, but it is also delicious at room temperature or chilled. The crunchiness of the tortilla crisps and the tangy notes of the fresh cheese contrast nicely with the silky soup. You can make the soup 12 hours ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. Queso fresco is a white crumbly cheese, a bit tangy and barely salty. It is similar to a mild feta; farmers cheese can also be used as a substitute.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon corn or safflower oil
1 1/4 cups roughly chopped white onion
1 jalapeno chili, sliced in half, seeded if less heat is desired
3 large ripe Hass avocados (about 2 1/4 pounds), halved, seeded, meat scooped out
3/4 cup cilantro leaves, rinsed and loosely packed
6 cups chicken broth (may substitute with vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, more or less to taste
1 1/2 cups tortilla crisps (see below)
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled (may substitute farmers cheese or a mild feta)
Heat butter and oil in a medium skillet set over medium-low. Once butter melts and bubbles, stir in the onion and jalapeno. Cook, stirring periodically, until the onion has softened and become translucent, and the edges are beginning to brown lightly, 12 to 15 minutes. Add cilantro leaves to the pan. Once cilantro has wilted, 30 seconds to a minute later, turn off the heat.
Place avocado in the blender or food processor along with the cooked onion and jalapeno mixture, broth, lime juice and salt. Puree until smooth, taste for salt and add more if necessary.
You may serve in bowls garnished with tortilla crisps and cheese, or let your guests add garnishes to their liking.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
5 corn tortillas (5 to 6 inches wide)
Safflower or corn oil
1/2 teaspoon table salt, more or less to taste
On a chopping board, slice tortillas in half and then vertically in half again. Then slice across in strips of 1/4 to 1/2 inch, depending on how thick you like them.
In a medium skillet, add 1/4 inch oil and place over medium-high heat. Once it is hot, anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes, add tortilla pieces. When you add a tortilla to the oil, it should immediately start to bubble. Fry, stirring and flipping occasionally, until they achieve a golden tan and slightly brown color and are hard and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt to taste.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray or gently brush a baking sheet with corn or safflower oil. Place tortilla pieces on top and spray or gently brush a light layer of oil. Judiciously sprinkle with salt to taste.
Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes, stirring and flipping once or twice until they achieve a golden tan and slightly brown color and appear hard and crisp.
Remove from oven, let them cool and place in a bowl or container.