Hello. My name is Amy Winner, and I’m a soup junkie. I am not really sure why, but given the choice, I’ll pick a warm bowl of palatable soup over just about anything. Something about cradling the warm bowl between your hands and breathing in the bouquet of flavors that have been melding away on a stovetop all afternoon is a pre-meal ritual that I just can’t resist.
When I first started cooking, I made a ton of soup. I’m not sure why, but soup wasn’t nearly as scary: cut up some veggies, pop open a can of broth, throw it all into a pot and simmer. Even now that it’s much harder to intimidate me in the kitchen, I still find it therapeutic to stand, stir, and breathe in the aroma as it blooms and fills the entire house.
Most Sunday afternoons in the dark winter months I’ve got a big pot of some sort of soup on the stove. Nothing beats a hearty bowl when it’s cold outside. Though while my love of soup has no seasonal bias, it’s often hard to get others on board when it’s 80 degrees out and the sun doesn’t set ‘till 10. Perhaps because Tortilla Soup is Mexican-y, and it’s hot in Mexico, I feel like I can get away with serving it anytime? Or at least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.
I have about three or so different Tortilla Soup recipes that I rotate through, but at the moment, this one takes the cake. Unlike so many soups that have one uniform flavor and an unfortunate mushiness to the solid ingredients, this soup has layers of different tastes, and enough texture to keep any palate anxious for the next bite. The sweetness of the corn balances the heat of the broth, and the tortilla’s crunch is a perfect accessory to the creaminess of the avocado. Plus it’s drop dead easy to make, and is hearty enough to satiate big eaters. Reheat the leftover soup without all the garnishes for a healthy lunch that won’t send you straight into a 3:00 food coma.
One last note, or plea I suppose. I resisted frying the tortilla strips for entirely too long. But it’s well worth the extra step (and calories). There’s just no comparing a soggy strip of corn tortilla with the light, salty crunch that you get when you use the fried tortilla strips. So don’t skimp!
How do you feel about soup in the summer? Am I crazy?? What’s your favorite soup pick? Either way, enjoy!
Adapted from Keep the Feast
Serves: 6 for dinner
Active Time: approx. 1 hour
6 white corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 cup canola oil (for frying only)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 Jalapeno chile
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces beer (Mexican preferably)
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 limes, one juiced, one sliced into wedges
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 ½ cups corn
3 cups shredded chicken
2 cups Colby Jack cheese, grated
1 Avocado, diced
To make the soup, heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, chile and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 7-10 minutes.
Add the stock and beer, stirring until the foam subsides.
Add the tomatoes to the pot with the cumin, chili powder, oregano, and salt.
Boil the soup for ten minutes then add the juice from one of the limes, the beans, and the corn and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.
While the soup is simmering, heat the canola oil in a skillet until it reaches 375°F on a deep fat thermometer. The oil should come about an inch up the side of the pan. Working in batches, fry tortilla strips until crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Spread onto cooling racks covered in paper towels to cool, and sprinkle with kosher salt immediately after they come out of the oil.
Fill bowls with desired amount of chicken and avocado, and pour the soup over top. Garnish with tortillas, cheese, diced avocado, and lime wedges.
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