A tortilla soup recipe to put your favorite Mexican restaurant to shame.
A tortilla soup recipe made with wild turkey has been a long time coming. It all boils down to one night (no pun intended). We had this leftover wild turkey, I threw it in a tortilla soup that I came up with by hodgepodging together a few different recipes. It was freaking amazing. A friend of my husband’s came over that night and didn’t stop talking about my tortilla soup for like a year. The problem was, did I write anything down? Nope, nope and nope. I tried to recreate said soup. It wasn’t the same. I tried again and again and even went so far as to look up my browser history from the day I made the soup so I could, at least, see which recipes I pulled from but still, it was never the same.
Finally, I just wanted to make some. It’s been a few years since the “didn’t write it down” debacle. I search the internet for a recipe that is simple, yet different. I didn’t want some clear-broth, flavorless turkey piss of a soup that really just turns all weird because you have to put so much cheese in it to make it palatable.
Somehow, the stars aligned and I ended up here, with a recipe that’s almost so simple I’m literally stealing it, except for the use of turkey instead of chicken. The secret? Purée the onion and garlic after you’ve cooked it. So simple, but this step is what really gives the broth a deep flavor. That and the pasilla peppers.\
I also brined the turkey for about half a day before I baked it for the soup. You can obviously use leftover turkey as well, but then you don’t get to pour the braising liquids into the soup. Brining will help keep your turkey moist and I highly suggest it when cooking wild turkey as it tends to get really dry and leathery. I prefer my wine dry and leathery, but not so much my protein.
To brine, put about 2:1 salt to sugar in a pan, dissolve in just enough water to cover. Once dissolved, add it to ice water and the juice of a lime or two, using enough liquid to just cover your turkey in a bowl or ziplock. (It should be +/- a gallon of water.) Let sit for 4 hours or up to overnight, if you like. If you’re worried that your turkey will end up too salty, rinse it off and let it sit in plain water for about a half hour before you cook it. So your day can go like this: wake up 6 minutes early, make a quick brine, put the turkey in and refrigerate. Go to work. Come home, rinse turkey and set immediately in fresh water while you do whatever it is you do in between just getting home from work and when you start making dinner. The rest of the soup comes together pretty quickly.
Turkey Tortilla Soup
- 1 small wild turkey (plucked, gutted, quartered, etc)
- 1 tablespoon butter/oil/bacon grease (or 3-4 strips of bacon)
- 1 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 dried pasilla pepper
- 1 Large onion (roughly chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 2 tablespoons dried epazote
- tortilla chips (for garnish)
- 2 avocados (peeled, right before serving)
- chopped cilantro (for garnish)
- 1/2 cup grated melting cheese (for garnish)
- lime wedges (for grnish)
- 8 cups chicken broth (give or take)
- tortilla chips (crumbled)
|Preheat the oven to 375. Smear the turkey with fat (or lay bacon slices over it) in a roasting pan or pyrex. Bake until a meat thermometer reads 160 (about 20-ish minutes, depending on how thick your thighs are). When cooked through, let cool and shred or roughly chop.|
|Meanwhile, heat a pot over medium high heat. Toast the dried pasilla pepper on both sides, pressing it down, until it's fragrant. Remove the stem and seeds. Add that and the can of tomatoes to a blender and blend until smooth. Remove to a bowl for later use.|
|Add the oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic until they start to brown (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from the pan back into the blender and blend until smooth. Return to the pan and cook, constantly stirring, until the purée has reduced to about a tomato paste consistency. Then add the tomato puree, broth and epazote. Bring to a boil and simmer until your turkey is ready and shredded, about 15 minutes.|
|Add the turkey and any leftover juices in the pan to the soup. Simmer about 5 minutes. Serve and garnish with avocado, crush tortilla chips, cilantro, lime wedges and cheese.|
Non-game substitution: Obviously chicken is a go-to for this. You can even use one of those store-bought rotisserie ones so you don’t have to bake anything.
Vegetarian Substitution: If you want a vegetarian version, simply use a good vegetable broth and throw in some black beans, and maybe some fresh corn kernels, if you feel so inclined. Done and done.