Souped Up

09 February 2006
Souped Up

A quartet of zesty, colorful takes on tortilla soup showcase how chefs across segments refine a Mexican standard.

This article first appeared in the 1 January 2006 issue of Restaurants & Institutions (R&I).

R&I is the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons. Editorial coverage spans the entire foodservice industry, including chains, independent restaurants, hotels and institutions. To find out more about R&I, visit its website

By Allison Perlik, Senior Editor

Tortilla Soup 1
Aramark, Philadelphia. Crunchy, baked corn tortilla strips mingle with chopped tomatoes, onions and shredded cheese to bring heft to this chicken-stock-based broth that gains depth and color from tomato paste. The contracting giant menus the dish at business-and-industry, healthcare and campus foodservice accounts across the country

Tortilla Soup 2
The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas. Coarsely chopped corn tortillas sautéed with garlic and epazote (a pungent Mexican herb) thicken Executive Chef Dean Fearing's signature recipe, built from chicken stock, onion and tomato purées, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and bay leaves. The soup is brought to tables in tureens for individual service and garnished to order.

Tortilla Soup 3
Max & Erma's, multiple locations. The casual-dining chain's hearty recipe, fortified with cheese and generous chunks of chicken, packs a triple dose of heat from minced jalapeños, diced poblano peppers and cayenne pepper. The soup is offered at lunch and dinner, priced at $4.59 for a bowl, $3.29 for a cup and $2.59 with an entrée.

Tortilla Soup 4
Rosa Mexicano, multiple locations. Smoky pasilla chiles set the flavor pace for Culinary Director Roberto Santibañez's popular version at the growing, four-unit concept. Avocado, grilled chicken and tortilla strips also are added to chicken stock that is thickened with tortillas; the bowl can be garnished with cilantro and a dollop of crème fraîche or crema fresca.

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