Comida Corrida is the large, afternoon meal served in many Mexican restaurants. Often a bargain, it features traditional Mexican cooking brought to the table as three, four, or even five courses. Meals served this way make for more leisurely, relaxed eating with time for conversation. We have pleasant memories of comida corridas at the venerable Hotel Frances in Guadalajara, its tattered elegance showing its age, as piano music wafted in to the dining room. Lentil soup was frequently the first course. My version, Mexican Chipotle Lentil Soup, is seasoned with smoked, dried jalapeño (chipotle) and roasted poblano chiles. It is vegetarian, unless you want to garnish it with queso.
Mexican Chipotle Lentil Soup
serves 4 generously
- Clean and wash lentils. Soak overnight for quicker cooking.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute onion, celery and carrots for 5-6 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring.
- Mince the chipotle chile with its adobo sauce so finely that it is almost pureed.
- Add all remaining ingredients, including water. Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until lentils are tender, adding more water if necessary.
- Adjust salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro, fried strips of tortillas, and crumbled asadero cheese or other dry, salty cheese.
To fry tortilla strips, cut tortillas in half, then slice 1/4″ (3/5 cm.) wide. Fry in hot oil until crispy and golden. Drain on paper towels.
To mince garlic, smash cloves with the flat of a large knife. This separates the skin from the garlic, making it easier to peel. Mince with a knife or a garlic mincer.
Chipotle chile doesn’t mess around — it has serious heat. Start with a small amount, adding more gradually. You may get hooked on its smoky piquancy. Remember to mince finely so the unwary diner is not surprised.
Remember a Free Tip from a past post about freezing cans of tomato paste and chipotle chile? When frozen, remove both ends of the can, push out the frozen cylinder and keep in a zip-lock bag in the freezer. This way, it is always fresh when you only need a small amount.