Thursday, November 3, 2011

power combo: roasted tomato soup and mexican torta

A couple of months ago I gave a recipe off of smitten kitchen a try. Let me tell you, it's hard for me to go on that blog because if I do I will spend all day in the kitchen cooking all her recipes. They wow me every time! And the best thing is they never feel like they are out of my reach to make. I can't speak more highly of this blog and it's wonderful, accessible recipes.
Anyhow. Tangent aside...
tomatoes, prepare to be roasted...
The recipe I tried was for roasted tomato soup with broiled cheddar and it was born from a desire to find a way to merge grilled cheese with tomato soup. It is absolutely delicious and is one of those easy-to-make yet impressive-to-eat dishes you know I love. We made it the first time when some out-of-town friends were staying with us for the weekend and it was just when the first tinge of fall was in the air. Alongside some monster quesadillas and a bottle of wine, it was a great autumn dinner. But I still wasn't convinced that quesadillas were the right pairing. This was my struggle: because of the awesome grilled cheese topping on the soup, it was hard to pair it with another item. It would look weird to plop a piece of meat on a plate next to it, and a salad would be good but might not feel like enough of a meal if it was being served for dinner. I tried the recipe again when Sean's parents came to visit a few weeks ago, and we served it with some chicken sandwiches. Also good, but I still wasn't satisfied. I felt confident it should be served along with some kind of sandwich, but what? And then, a couple weeks ago, I found it: the Mexican Torta.
Get the recipe after the jump!

We happened upon the torta sandwiches by chance, really. After purchasing a bag of square rolls on sale at the grocery store, Sean found the recipe on the back when we brought it home. Turns out we'd purchased what are called Telera rolls, a mexican bread that is crusty, soft, and slightly flat. They are so closely tied that another name for the Torta is the Telera sandwich. Naturally, we had to try them.
The recipe on the back of the bread bag and then the hundreds of recipes I found online for the Torta sandwich all seemed to be different, so there's definitely variation. However, there are ground rules. Besides the bread, you MUST have:
1. refried beans
2. Some sort of creamy spread: crema, mayo, and sour cream all work well
3. avocado
4. tomato
5. some kind of cheese
look at all those delicious layers!
I haven't tried it, but I'm positive you could make a pretty spectacular and very filling vegetarian Torta, so I left meat off the list. After I read through a bunch of recipes, I borrowed what seemed like the best ideas. I also used the parts of the recipes that used ingredients I already had on hand. I only had to make a special trip to the store to get chipotles in adobo sauce, something we don't really keep handy. So here's what I did:
1. Harvested the rest of the meat from a whole chicken we'd eaten the day before. Threw that in a skillet with jalapenos, garlic, salt and pepper, lime juice, onions and paprika. Let it simmer a while on the stove.
2. Warmed up some refried beans from the can
3. Preheated the oven to 350 and threw the Telera rolls in there to get a little warm before everything went on them.
4. Popped open the can of chipotles in adobo and mixed it into some mayonnaise. I did it to taste. It depends on how much heat you want. Remember there are other spicy elements in the sandwich, so don't make this too firey-hot.
5. Got the bread out of the oven and sliced it open face. Spread that Chipotle Mayo onto both sides, then started layering everything on: smashed avocado, the chicken mixture, pepper jack cheese, a handful of fresh cilantro, fresh tomato slices and the warmed refried beans.
6. Wrapped the sandwiches tightly in foil. I stuck them in the oven for about 5 minutes, just to get everything warm and melty.
7. Took the Tortas out and cut them in half with the foil still on. I don't know if it would be possible to eat these without the foil. Everything would probably ooze off.

and they were delicious! Also very filling, so I would probably serve a half sandwich with the soup. I highly recommend trying both of these recipes, even if it's not together. Enjoy! -hil

the finished product.
ps- one note on the smitten kitchen recipe: I made it slightly spicier with the red pepper flakes and instead of pouring it in a blender in batches, we used our Kitchen Aid hand blender and it worked like a charm. That thing is just so handy.

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