Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tortilla Soup

Every summer my parents and I would fly from Madrid to Boston, where my uncle would pick us up and drive us to our family's lake house in Philipston, MA. My grandmother would be anxiously waiting with lots of hugs, kisses and what I can only describe as a buffet. As ridiculous as the spread was, it was our idea of heaven after a long plane ride and several crappy meals. That's why I decided it would be only fair for me to have a comforting meal waiting for my parents when they arrived from Madrid last night.

Now I'm not, nor do I think I'll ever be, the queen hostess that my grandma Ollie was. My style is a bit more understated (read: I'm not that intense) so I didn't provide my parents with a smorgasbord of goodies. Instead, I decided to make something that's good for the soul,  and therefore perfect after a long trip -- tortilla soup. This soup comes together in under 25 minutes, which makes it a perfect not just for starving parents but also for anyone who needs a little TLC and doesn't want to work hard for it.

Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Appetite for Reduction
Makes 4-5 servings
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded if you don't like heat, and minced
  • 1 orange or other bell pepper, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 28 oz / 794 g can whole tomatoes, broken up into chunks with your fingers (it's fun!)
  • 28 oz (or one tomato can full) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips plus extra for garnish (I made my own by crumbling 8 tostadas like the ones used in this recipe)
  • 1 15 oz / 425 g kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 large lemon
  • Optional: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper or red pepper flakes (if you want extra heat) and diced avocado for garnish
1.  In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Toss in the jalapeños, bell pepper, and garlic, cooking them for another 3 minutes or so. Sprinkle in the cumin and chipotle or red pepper (if using), toasting the spices for about another minute.
2.  Deglaze the pan by adding the tomatoes, broth, and tortilla chips. Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the beans and the corn and cook for about 5 minutes.
3.  Take the pot off the heat, stir in the lime juice and the cilantro and let the soup sit covered for about 5 minutes to let the flavors marry. Enjoy garnished with some extra chips, cilantro and some avocado.

Writing this post made me think of the movie Tortilla Soup. It's an entertaining chick flick available for instant streaming on Netflix (so yes, you can watch it now!). The movie has a lot of food AND Hector Elizondo in it. What's there not to love?

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