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Cooking 101: La Calaca Feliz’s Recipes for Guacamole and Tortilla Soup

PW’s new biweekly column, “Forking Stupid,” sees 25-year-old Nicole Finkbiner persuading professional chefs from Philadelphia’s great restaurants to please teach her, for the love of god, how to cook—one dish at a time. This week, Nicole visits La Calaca Feliz in the Fairmount section of Philly to make guacamole and tortilla soup.



2 avocados
1 cup diced tomato
1 jalapeno, diced
¼ cup diced onion
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
2-3 limes, juiced
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ cup each of seasonal fruit, such as diced pomegranate seeds or apples


Remove skin and pit from the avocados. Mash with a fork until creamy. Fold in remaining ingredients and season with salt.  For extra spicy guacamole, add 1 tsp diced habañero. To make it extra-extra spicy, add 1 tsp hot sauce as well.

calaca-soup-webTortilla soup


8 plum tomatoes (charred on a grill or in a cast-iron skillet)
3 cloves garlic (charred on a grill or in a cast-iron skillet)
1 Spanish onion (charred on a grill or in a cast-iron skillet)
2 oz tomato paste
3 Pasilla chilies
3 Gaujillo chilies
2 chipotles in Adobo sauce
1 qt fried tortilla chips
1 gallon chicken stock
vegetable oil

For the poached chicken:
2 chicken breasts or a whole chicken
1 onion
bay leaf


In a large stock pot, heat vegetable oil until hot. Add the charred tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook for five minutes on medium heat. Add tomato paste, Gaujillo chilies, Pasilla chilies and chipotles in Adobo sauce. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Make sure to stir the pot often so the ingredients do not burn. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then simmer on low for 45 minutes. Add tortilla chips and cook for another 10 minutes until tortillas are soft and tender. Puree with an immersion blender on high and strain soup through a China cap. Season with salt.

Meanwhile, poach the chicken, skin removed, in a pot of water seasoned with the onion, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Simmer gently for 20 minutes if using just breasts, 45 minutes for a whole chicken. Pull chicken with a slotted spoon, let rest, and dice or shred as desired.  Add chicken to the soup and let simmer for 5 minutes.

Transfer soup to a bowl and garnish with cilantro, diced onion, queso fresco, Mexican crema and tortilla strips or chips.

Nicole Finkbiner | Apr 17 2013 9:10am | cooking/baking, Forking Stupid, guacamole, La Calaca Feliz, mexican, tortilla soup | Comment 1

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Adrian Seltzer  says:

Nice recipes, but why wouldn’t you poach the chicken in the soup? It would add more flavor to both the soup and the chicken. Just remove it before pureeing.

Apr 20 8:04 AM


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