After a few tries I finally came up with a pretty close version of Baby A's famous tortilla soup ... in fact, I think it's better 'cause I didn't put any MSG or flavorings.
Here's the recipe:
1 roasted chicken (In this case, I bought a roasted chicken from the market. The roasted chicken gives the soup a very nice flavor. But a non-roasted chicken could work as well — just will have a different flavor.)
3 red onions (halved and some finely chopped)
2 bundles cilantro without any stems (stems make it bitter)
2-3 chopped tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 carrots (chunks)
3-4 stalks celery (chunks)
A few limes
5 corn tortillas
Optional: Mexican cheese
Optional: Chile peppers, cayenne peppers or any hot pepper will do (cayenne flakes as well)
2. In a large pot put the remainder of the roast chicken, carrots, onions, celery and garlic cloves. Top with water. Add some olive oil, a bit of salt and pepper, and optionally the hot pepper.
3. Simmer over low heat (covered) until the chicken completely comes apart (about two hours). To boost the flavor, consider simmering an hour or so without the cover allowing it to cook down a bit. Drain and strain everything into another pot. Continue heating the broth, add salt, pepper, cumin to taste (be careful with the cumin — not too much!). If needed, soak up any excess fat off the top using a tortilla or bread.
4. Prepare the basmati rice. Don't cook it too much as the hot broth will do the rest. And you'll want to have the leftovers without soggy rice.
5. When ready to serve, put the diced chicken, scoop of rice, chopped red onions, chopped tomatoes, fresh cilantro, tortilla and avocado in each bowl. Add the very hot broth to the bowl.
6. Serve with warmed corn tortillas, extra cilantro, onions, grated cheese, and limes on the side.
For vegetarian fare: Omit the chicken! This soup can be just as good using veggie bouillon or just add more veggies when cooking. Combined with the rice, cheese and tortillas this is a meal in itself.
Recipe and photo courtesy of austinevans/Flickr
Extra notes from author: The trick with this soup is to make a very good broth (veggie or chicken) using the rough chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic, chicken, olive oil and spices. After cooking for couple hours, strain and use the broth over the prepped red onions, diced chicken, avocado slices, cilantro/coriander and diced tomatoes, and of course the pre-cooked basmati rice. Add lime and salt to taste. Maybe some shredded white cheese on the side, as well.
It's a delicious soup and the "healthiness" can be adjusted as needed. The rice is cooked separately. Though tempting to try to cook the rice in the broth, it doesn't work out as the rice gets too soggy and the broth becomes quite thickened by the rice. If anything, undercook the rice a bit so it doesn't lose any of its body. The intent is a savory Mexican-style avocado/lime soup. The crucial thing is a good broth and fresh cilantro/coriander which lends a very nice aroma.