Chunky Tortilla Soup

Rabbit Rabbit! It’s the last month of the year, WOW! 2010 was fantastic for me, definitely a solid foundation for the rest of my life in so many ways. I hope it was a wonderful year for you, too!

When I went to Cabo for the first time, I pretty much lived off tortilla soup and nachos (picky? me?!). Luckily, my two-weeklong diet didn’t ruin this dish for me; tortilla soup remains one of my favorite Mexican dishes. Tortilla soup is one of those year-round dishes – isn’t it true that spicy food actually cools you off when it’s hot out? And that spice warms from the inside out when it’s chilly? No scientific method here, but this soup will fill you up – and get rave reviews from whoever you serve it to!

Let’s kick off chilly times with this great tortilla soup.

The  original recipe called for blending the soup, but I decided to keep it nice and chunky. Cilantro was optional, and since I dislike it, I omitted it. I also left out the chicken, and it remained an incredibly filling and hearty soup, even without any meat! However, chicken tortilla soup is the classic so please click through to the original recipe if you would like some extra protein in your meal!

Tortilla Soup
adapted from Food and Wine

6 tablespoons cooking oil
8 6-inch flour tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
1 onion, chopped
4 large cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 quarts canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
3 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 28-ounce can)
2 bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 pound cheddar, grated

  1. In a skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.
  2. Transfer leftover oil to dutch oven and heat to moderately low. Add the onion, garlic, and spices; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, and one-third of the tortilla strips. Bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes; remove the bay leaves.
  3. To serve, arrange the remaining tortilla strips and avocado in bowls, top with the cheese, and pour in the soup.
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