This post is brought to you by our friends at Weight Watchers, who celebrate gathering together around the table to enjoy wholesome, beautiful food.
A good meal is satisfying and restorative; it feels like an unexpected hug after a long, hectic day. But the thought of figuring out what to make for dinner -- and how -- can leave us exhausted and unmotivated.
Tonight, we're tackling two recipes that will make you feel like a champion in the kitchen. They'll put the wind back in your sails and remind you just how fun it is to throw together a comforting weeknight dinner. You'll forget everything else as you're slurping an avocado shake and crunching on tortilla soup. Tonight, you win.
Serves 4, with 2 smoothies
4 to 6 corn tortillas, preferably stale store-bought ones
4 to 5 medium (about 1 1/2 ounces total) dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded (also called chilles negros)
1 whole medium-large round, ripe tomato (or one 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes, drained)
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 medium white onion, peeled, halved, and sliced 1/8-inch-thick
6 cups good broth, preferably chicken
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Mexican Chihuahua cheese, or other melting cheese such as brick or Monterey Jack
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges
4 cups loosely packed, thinly sliced (preferably red) chard leaves (you’ll need about 2/3 of a 12-ounce bunch)
1 large Hass avocado (or 1 1/2 small ones)
1 lime or lemon, sliced
1 cup coconut ice cream
3/4 to 1 cup milk (or coconut milk)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
Simple syrup or agave to taste
We're assuming you have vegetable oil and salt. If not, be sure to add those to your list, too.
1. Make the tortilla chips: Slice the tortillas into 1/8-inch-wide strips. In a medium-sized (8- to 9-inch) skillet heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the tortilla strips in 3 batches, until they become crisp on all sides. Transfer the tortilla strips to a paper towel-line plate to drain. Set aside.
2. Prep the chiles: Use kitchen shears to cut the chiles into 1-inch squares. Reduce the heat under the oil to medium-low, let it cool for a minute, then fry the chile squares very briefly (3 or 4 seconds); immediately remove the squares and let them drain on paper towels. Next, place 1/3 of the chiles in a small bowl, cover with hot water, and let them sit for 30 minutes to rehydrate, stirring regularly to ensure even soaking. Drain and discard the water. Set aside the remaining fried chiles.
3. Roast the tomatoes and garlic: Place the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet and roast them 4 inches below a very hot broiler for about 6 minutes, or until they are blackened and blistered on one side. Flip them over and broil the other side. Cool, then peel both the tomatoes and garlic, collecting any additional juices for later. Note: If you are using canned tomatoes, set them aside for later and roast the garlic in a dry skillet on the stovetop.
4. Assemble the soup: In a medium-sized (4-quart) pot, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and fry until brown, about 10 minutes. Place the rehydrated chiles in a food processor or blender along with the roasted garlic, tomato, and 1 cup of the broth and purée until smooth. Raise the temperature under the pot of onions to medium-high, and, and once it is hot, press the tomato-chile purée through a medium mesh strainer onto the fried onion. Stir for several minutes as the mixture thickens and darkens. Mix in the remaining 5 cups of broth, then simmer uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
5. Arrange the garnishes: On a large platter, make mounds of the fried chiles, fried tortilla strips, cheese, and slices of lime to serve alongside the soup. Once you're ready to serve, reheat the soup, add the sliced chard, and simmer until the chard is tender, 5 or 6 minutes.
6. Make the shake: Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into a blender. Next, add the lemon juice, ice cream, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth. Taste, add more salt or sweetener to your liking, and briefly blend.
7. Serve and enjoy: Ladle the soup into bowls and divide the smoothies into glasses. Sprinkle the smoothies with salt and enjoy.
Note: The base of this soup can be made without the chard ahead of time; once you're ready to serve it, reheat it and add in the chard. The fried tortillas will keep for 1 day wrapped in foil.
Photos by James Ransom
This post is brought to you by Weight Watchers. Need ideas for dinner tomorrow? They've got you covered. Show us what you're cooking with the hashtag #biteintolife!