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updated: 11/27/2012 11:57 AM

Chocolate adds depth to tortilla soup

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  • A bit of cocoa powder adds mole-like depth to shrimp-studded tortilla soup.

       A bit of cocoa powder adds mole-like depth to shrimp-studded tortilla soup.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

I love shrimp. I love tortilla chips. And I love, love, love chocolate, but, a shrimp and chocolate tortilla soup?

Absolutely! Think of it as a shrimp enchilada with mole sauce, only in soup form. Actually, this Paula Deen recipe is just a variation of tortilla soup, with the addition of cocoa powder, which gives it a dimension of richness and complexity in the way that a mole sauce would.

Of course, for the true Mexican cuisine aficionado, this is no mole. But, then, not many of us have the time and the patience to make a real mole, which involves a lot of toasting, roasting and grinding of chiles, spices, seeds and the like. When Rick Bayless, Chicago's own mole master, was asked to make an Oaxacan black mole for a White House state dinner, it took him days and included more than 20 ingredients.

In any case, many mole sauces include chocolate. Hence, the cocoa powder in this delicious shrimp and tortilla soup adds richness without the sweetness.

Another twist in this recipe involves crushing the tortilla chips and using them to act as a thickener, which gives the soup a little more structure, as well as that nice corn flavor.

While it calls for shrimp, I see no reason why you couldn't make this with chicken. Instead of the shrimp, simply add one to two cups of cooked chicken, either shredded or diced. For a vegetarian version, two cups of black beans would work, as well. (Hmmm, I am going to give that one a try.)

Best of all, this is a good soup for tinkering. I tend to like things a bit on the spicy side so I double the heat when I'm making it just for me. You could add garlic, as well, or a squeeze of lime juice. This is a fairly forgiving recipe so adapt it as you like.

Only the chocolate is mandatory!

• M. Eileen Brown is the Daily Herald's director of strategic marketing and innovation, and an incurable soup-a-holic. She specializes in vegetarian soups and blogs at soupalooza.com.

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