Sunday, January 22

Tortilla Soup

When I was pregnant with my son I craved Mexican food.  The warm, robust chilies in enchilada sauce; the fresh, green flavors of avocado and cilantro in guacamole; the smokey tang of fajitas.  I wanted it all.   At the time I lived in Florida where good, authentic Mexican food is hard to find.

That Christmas I drove to New Mexico to visit my family.  My grandmother had prepared a huge pot of Tortilla Soup which was simmering away when I arrived.  I don't know what it was, probably my over-sensitive pregnancy nose, but the smell of that soup blew me away.  It was exactly what I needed after two long days on the road.

I came home craving that soup more than anything.  So I came up with this recipe, and have been making it this way ever since.

I know that this is probably not a traditional Mexican soup.  This is simply a fusion of some of my favorite Mexican flavors - warm and spicy cumin; fresh coriander and garlic; smokey chipotle; creamy avocados; crunchy, salty tortilla chips.  It's got it all.

Normally I make our tortilla chips at home by frying corn tortillas, but for this recipe I simply use good, store bought chips along with canned beans.  It's so much easier and soup should be uncomplicated.  An easy and comforting end for a busy day, or a very long car ride.

Tortilla Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts (or 1 lb ground beef)
1 small onion, chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken stock (or beef stock if using ground beef)
1 can (14.5 oz) organic fire roasted tomatoes
1 can (8 oz) organic tomato sauce
3/4 tsp dried thyme
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 - 2 tsp TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce, to taste
2 cups cooked black beans (or one can, rinsed and drained)
Corn tortilla chips (organic or all natural), to garnish
Grated cheddar or Monterey Jack
Chopped avocado, or homemade Guacamole

Heat the olive oil in the soup pot.  If using chicken, season with salt and pepper and brown the meat on both sides. Then remove to a plate (if using ground beef, season it and brown it, add the vegetables to cook with the meat).  Saute the onion and bell pepper with a pinch of salt and pepper in the oil for 5 minutes.  Add the corn and garlic and cook another minute.  Add the spices and cook for a minute longer.  Pour in the chicken stock and both cans of tomatoes.  Add the chicken back to the pot and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and shred with two forks.  Add the shredded chicken, black beans, and TABASCO to the pot and simmer for 5 more minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add more TABASCO if needed.

To serve, lightly crush a handful of chips and place in the bottom of the bowl.  Ladle the soup on top.  Garnish with more chips, grated cheese, and avocado.

shared with: melt in your mouth monday, sunday night soup night, mangia mondays, hearth and soul