Not to say we’re having anything fancy, but this meal marks one of rare occasions I went to an organic butcher shop to get a nice cut of meat! Pork roast to be exact, so in fact . . . we will be eating high off the hog tonight! I was recently traveling, and the soup special at the hotel was chicken tortilla. I love tortilla soup and had not eaten a good bowl in ages! Unfortunately, their version wasn’t too appealing, but rather a gelatinous cup of salty, chicken bullion broth—saddening sigh. In an effort to satisfy my craving, I decided to get my rear in the kitchen and create something similar. I cook with chicken probably too frequently, so it was time to mix-up the protein, but steak tortilla soup just didn’t have a nice ring to it.
I like using lean pork as a substitute for poultry sometimes, and I thought of how tasty Mexican-style carnitas are. In Southern California, you can find carnitas at pretty much any Mexican restaurant, which is really just a flavorful pork roast, shredded and crisped in its own pork fat. Though this isn’t the healthiest preparation, it is delicious! Something about a tender, shredded pork roast seemed to sync with my south-of-the-border soup, but we’re going to execute as a healthier version without crisping the pork roast in it’s own fat, yet we add lots of vibrant & hearty ingredients leaving us with no flavor deficiency! Our Carnitas Tortilla Soup makes for a great one-pot meal, and is perfect on a cooler weekend evening.
Let’s get some pork roasting and soup simmering:
Traditional carnitas, would use a fattier cut of pork, so to impart maximum flavor and make the fat available for frying the meat after it has been roasted through. I went with a leaner cut of meat, a pork shoulder, but one with enough marbled fat not to turn out dry or chewy. Pork roast should be cooked to between 160 and 170 Fahrenheit. I actually left mine in a little too long, and the roast was slightly over 170. Next time I will err closer to 160, as the shredded meat will be going into the hot soup, and cooking slightly further. The reserved pork roast drippings & juices are a great addition into our soup pot, giving us a richer savory flavor, so don’t discard them!! This meal takes longer because you are first making the roast. You could make the roast ahead and reserve drippings, so that this is a quicker weeknight meal, though the soup itself doesn’t take long. Personally, I love making savory soups on fall weekends, when I have a little more time to enjoy being in the kitchen.
This version of tortilla soup wouldn’t be complete without topping with some crisp tortilla pieces, shredded pepper jack cheese, little green onion, & creamy avocado slice. I even added a little dab of cool sour cream into the mix! The broth is rich and flavorful and goes well with warm, white corn tortillas. We add fiber-rich beans and fresh white corn to this as well, which makes it fairly filling, so I didn’t even bother making a side. I love when that’s the case!
So we didn’t end up with classic chicken tortilla, but a tasty variation that I like just as much. If you have a Mexican food craving in the near further, this soup is sure to hit the spot, while still keeping it healthy!Pin It