A huge thank-you to everyone who participated in my last CSN giveaway! The winner is…
- It’s really healthy (just be mindful of the toppings you use).
- It’s easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish.
- It doesn’t require a lot of chopping – just the onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
- Like any 1-pot meal, there is very little clean up.
- It feeds an army (and freezes well, if you don’t have an army to feed).
- It’s cheap and a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey.
- You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken/turkey and adding another can of beans for more protein.
- You can customize your toppings to suit your tastes.
That being said, this is actually one meal I don’t really care for. And I wanted to like it, really I tried to. It’s the abundance of cilantro (which is one of the things that Mike loves about it) that gets me. I have to confess, cilantro tastes like soap to me (if you’re interested, here is an interesting article from The New York Times on this subject). I usually use flat-leaf parsley instead but Mike insists that the flavor of cilantro is crucial in this dish. Anyway, I make this soup for my hubby, who adores it. And if he’s willing to sit through a 2 ½ hour meal in a fromagerie for me even though he doesn’t like cheese, I figure it’s the least I can do. I wanted to share this recipe on my blog for the other cilantro-lovers out there. Plus, Mike said my recipe is pretty delicious, rivaling even the Tortilla Soup at a local restaurant where he loves to order it.
Something interesting about Tortilla Soup is that it’s traditionally thickened with tortillas. My version is thickened with cornstarch because I forgot to add tortillas to my grocery shopping list, and I didn’t have enough of them to use as both a garnish and a thickener. If you want to thicken the soup with tortillas instead of cornstarch, dry out 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas in the oven. Once the tortillas are dry, process them into crumbs either with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Add the crumbs to the soup when you add the water and proceed with the recipe.
(Yield: About 8 servings)
1 TB canola oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 ½ teaspoon chili powder
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 oz tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can petit diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 c corn (frozen is fine)
3-4 c cooked, shredded chicken or turkey
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 TB cornstarch mixed with 3 TB cold water (called a cornstarch slurry)
½ c to 1 c minced fresh cilantro (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper
Crispy Tortilla Strips (see below; or you can use store-bought tortilla chips instead)
Shredded or crumbled cheese (I used a marbled cheese called Colby-Jack)
Thinly sliced scallions or chives
Lime wedges, to squeeze on top
Crispy Tortilla Strips:
3 small (about 6-inch) soft corn tortillas, thinly sliced
1 TB canola oil
For the soup: In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium heat; add the onion and sauté until starting to soften (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring constantly. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add 5 c water along with the bouillon cube, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes. Bring the soup up to a boil, then add the corn, cover the pot, and simmer 15 minutes (stirring occasionally). Add the cooked chicken or turkey and the beans and cook 3 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry, bring it up to a boil, and let it boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with toppings of your choice.
For the crispy tortilla strips: Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the tortilla strips with the oil, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden (about 5-7 minutes), giving them a stir every couple minutes so they don’t burn.