Thursday, July 17, 2008

Not-Mindy's Tortilla Soup

***Edit: We prefer this new tortilla soup by far!!!

John ate some delicious tortilla soup at his bi-weekly meeting of boardgamegeeks, and I heard so much about it that I was driven to seek out the same. I still need to get Mindy's exact recipe, but since I haven't, I made a soup cobbled together from lots of other recipes. It's yummy, but if your finances are strapped or you hate meat, skip the chicken entirely. John really liked it, but he would have preferred it meatless, which is fine by me, so next time, I'll cook the chicken to make the chicken broth base and then freeze the meat for another use.

It's a full-flavored, moderately spicy soup with a hint of sweetness from the corn. I'm definitely making it again, only next time I'll have the foresight to bake extra tortillas.

*I used all fresh herbs because we have them growing in the garden, but dried herbs could easily be substituted. Rule of thumb: for every tablespoon of fresh herbs, use one teaspoon of dried.

1/2 of a giant onion, chopped (@ 1 cup?)
@ 10 cloves garlic, minced

Cut up the whole chicken into eight pieces and boil it until cooked (reserve chicken broth for soup base; more than half the chicken can be saved or frozen for another meal)

1 quart canned tomatoes, cut up (or one 28 oz. can diced tomato)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
frozen corn (I used last summer's frozen...about 10 oz.???)
@ 1/4-1/3 cup chopped green onion tops, opt. (we had them in the garden, so I threw them in)
@ 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, then chopped
2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 and 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground cayenne

12 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4"-1/2" strips (I'll use more tortillas next time.)

tortilla chips
shredded Monterey jack cheese

Saute the onions in a bit of olive oil. Add the garlic for the last minute. After cooking the whole chicken, skim the fat off of the broth. Shred the desired amount of chicken for the soup and save the remainder for another use. Add all ingredients to the chicken broth and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, it's time to prepare the tortilla strips from which the soup gets its name. Buy a bag of soft CORN tortillas. Stack about six of them on a cutting board and cut them into strips. All the recipes I looked at had instructions for frying them, which you can do, but I baked them with excellent results. Simply spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, lay the tortilla strips on the sheet and spray the tops of the strips with cooking spray. Bake in a hot oven (@ 400-450 degrees?) until golden brown and crispy, turning once midway through.

Serve the soup topped with tortilla strips and Monterey jack cheese, if desired. (I like it with lots of tortilla strips and little cheese.) Break the tortilla strips as you add them to your soup, unless you need to keep them whole in order to take a picture for your recipe blog.

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