Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tortilla Soup

This is the last of the trio of soups aimed at making even the most enjoyable of leftovers more palatable in repetitious consumption. Forget boring, tired leftovers that you end up resenting as much as a relationship gone bad. These soups helped me to consume every last morsel of the one dinner... not to mention leaving me with an entirely virtuous feeling in not having thrown any bit of food away.

The tortilla soup was not my idea but rather that of one of my mini-tour-mates, Sheena, who requested a more brothy soup versus the tortilla soups of the North that seem to be pureed within an inch of their lives. The tortilla soup was the challenge... so I hit the books. I read a great number of recipes and decided on what I liked and didn't like about each of them. Then, I surveyed Sheena for her "key components."

Last thing, before I get down to business, I think that there is something fundamentally enjoyable about food that comes with all sorts of opportunities to personalize it. This soup is no exception. You can tweak it throughout the cooking process... but you can also tweak it when you go to eat. Any number of different additions - lime wedges, sour cream, guacamole, avocado chunks, cilantro... and so on - could adorn or not adorn that particular portion of soup. It almost seems to make each bowl a new experience... an adventure of sorts. And one with immediate belly-filling satisfaction.

(Sheena's) Tortilla Soup

1 medium onion (I used a sweet yellow onion... chopped)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 teaspoon oil (canola or vegetable or whatever works for you)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 chipotle peppers (more or less depending on your inclination for the warmth)
2 cartons/2L chicken stock (either homemade or store bought... though you'll get points in most people's books for making it yourself... not to mention the added flavour)
4 tablespoons tomato paste
4 chicken thighs from your previous meal or cooked specifically for the soup (meat removed from the bones, then shredded)
Salt and pepper

Now, depending on how chunky or brothy you would like your soup to be, tweak the vegetable quantities accordingly. What I list here will give you a still broth-based soup but lots of chunks of veg...
2 small cans of black beans
1 large sweet potato (cubed... yields about 3 cups)
2 small cans of corn
1 medium zucchini (cubed)
*You could also use diced tomatoes.. peppers.. whatever you like.

Saute the onion, in a scant drizzle of oil, over medium heat until golden and carmelized. Add in the chipotle pepper(s) (you can leave the pepper whole, as you will puree it later), garlic, cumin and cloves. Let everything cook together to create your flavour base for the soup. Soften everything with 1/2 cup of stock, then blend until smooth (using your immersion or regular blender). Return puree to your pot and add the remainder of the chicken stock and the tomato paste to this spice blend. Bring everything to a simmer.

Now you add in all of your vegetables (beans, corn, zucchini, sweet potato). As this cooks together, take your leftover chicken thighs and remove the meat from the bones, along with any skin and fat. Shred the chicken using your fingers (or chop into chunks). The shredding, though taking a bit of time, feels infinitely more authentic. Add the chicken to the soup and warm completely. Sprinkle your cinnamon into the soup and stir together. Add salt and pepper, if any is needed.

Garnish with lime wedges, cilantro, avocado chunks, sour cream, fresh tomato...

Cookin' music... A good friend and stellar musician... Dan Mangan and his ever popular Robots.

1 thought(s):

Unknown said...

Thanks for this C! I like the sound of this and all the pic's! Can't wait to get home and cook up a batch! Comments, maybe even pic's to follow.....S.

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