Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ultimate Tortilla Soup

Printable Recipe
Ultimate tortilla soup is rich and flavorful and works just as well without the chicken for a wonderful vegetarian alternative. This recipe has become my favorite of the many I've tried. I think it probably has a few more ingredients than others but takes no longer to prepare. And there are a few easy techniques I'll show you that enhance the flavor also. Here's the line up:
1 qt Chicken Broth (or Veg)
2-3 Tbs Butter
1 clove Garlic
1 Onion, chopped
1 Can Black Beans or Red Beans
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 small can Chopped Green Chilis
2 cups Corn, frozen, fresh or canned
2-3 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Cumin
1 Tbs Oregano
2 Tbs Chicken Soup Base 
1-2 Cups Cooked Chicken
1-2 cups water

Start the pot with a quick saute of onions in butter over medium heat to sweeten them up. Within about 5 minutes they'll soften and you can add the pressed or chopped garlic.

Immediately follow the garlic with the sugar, cumin, and oregano and stir steadily for just a minute or two. This will intensify the flavor of the herbs and give the garlic a moment to sweeten. Don't let it go longer though because that garlic can move from sweet to bitter in a flash.

Now add all the rest of the ingredients: broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, and green chilis and 1 cup or so of water. Before you add the soup base, whisk it with a little hot water and  it will disperse more easily into the soup. As I've mentioned before in other soupy posts, a good soup base concentrate is loaded with flavor and will improve an already great soup; it's the secret of many restaurants for soup and sauce making. And let me define "good" soup base a little further. It will not look like artificially colored yellow lard. It should smell good and be creamy and have an appetizing list of ingredients, as if a good soup had been  reduced to a very thick condensed form. I like the brand, "Better than Bouillion" which can be found near the bouillion and soups in most any grocery. Higher end groceries and gourmet/specialty food shops have my all time favorite brand called Minors. It can be kept frozen and is well worth stockpiling if you ever see it.

OK, raise the heat until you get a nice study bubble and add the chicken; let it go about 30 minutes and your soup is ready to eat.You can use pulled chicken from leftovers or a rotisserie ready-cooked type or a really good brand of canned white meat chicken. Costco's Kirkland brand is so good I keep it on hand all the time, especially since this is a quick soup I make if we have unexpected company or get the whim for a quick hot lunch at home...

Which is what I did today. Tortilla soup with a sprinkle of Mex cheese blend and a dollop of sour cream (plus smoked paprika for fanciness). One cheesy quesedilla: slap some cheese of your choice between two tortillas and toast it up in a buttered skillet like a cheese sandwich - a few minutes on each side until browned and the cheese is melty. I made this one with a grainy corn tortilla and good old Longhorn Colby.

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