JANUARY 8, 2012

tomatoes_smI make soup every Sunday. Along with my pre-made grains, a legume, some roasted chicken(or sauteed sausages), cleaned and prepped veggies, soup is always simmering on Sunday mornings. I meal plan. Shopping lists are written on Fridays, shopping is done on Saturday, thus the organization begins. Simply, it makes weeknight meals easier, quicker, and nutritious.

Soups are the best way to use up those veggies that get somewhat neglected or pushed aside in your vegetable drawer. Soup is one of those versatile meals, served with a salad one has the perfect meal. Barley soup is made with homemade chicken stock,prosciutto, leeks, potatoes, carrots, and celery. Before serving, I add some sauteed chicken sausage and chopped chard. Lentil soup is a staple and corn chowder is household favorite.


But, it’s my tortilla soup that is number one on the soup list. This soup was conceived over 20 years ago while spending weekends on a friends estate in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In the winter months, I would occasionally ski, but it was nesting in their cozy home that I embraced most. Summers were spent on the lake, hiking, horseback riding, and eating; lots and lots of eating. It was one of those lazy days, reading and napping. Dinner was approaching so I accessed the provisions. Onions, garlic, tomatoes, chicken, stock, spices, tortillas, and an avocado. I started chopping, roasting, mincing and my tortilla soup was born.

Over the holidays I experimented with the Cuisinart Soup Maker + Blender, SBC-1000. I always thougth my blender did a great job…until I used this product. It blended perfectly, and not just soups. Our morning smoothies are every bit as good as a smoothie you would find at your local health food store. Although I really didn’t want another appliance in already crowded cupboards, I made an exception!

Tortilla Soup
yield: 3 quarts

8 corn tortillas, julienned
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. coriander
1 bay leaf
2 cups white onion, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
6 cups vegetable stock(I used homemade)
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
2 chicken breasts with bones and skin, roasted
1 cup raw goats milk cheddar cheese, grated
1 avocado

for the chicken:
1. preheat oven to 375*.
2. wash chicken breasts and pat dry. brush 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each breast. sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
3. place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 32-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center of the breast and the juices runs clear.
4. remove from the oven. when cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones. shred chicken and set aside.

for the soup:
1. in a large heavy duty stock pot, heat grapeseed oil. in several batches, cook half of the tortilla strips until crispy. drain on paper towels and set aside.
2. in the same pot, heat up the olive oil. add the other half of the corn tortillas. after about a minute(you don’t want them crispy) add the chopped onions. sweat the onions and tortillas together for about 10 minutes.
3. add the red bell pepper and saute for 5 minutes
4. in a small bowl, combine the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander, and bay leaf. add to the onion mixture and saute for 1 minute or until you smell the fragrance of the spices.
5. add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
6. add tomatoes, vegetable stock, and salt. bring to a boil.
7. once boiled, simmer, uncovered for one hour.
8. let cool slightly.
9. using your blender, puree in several batches.

to assemble:
1. place about a 1/4 cup of chicken in your soup bowl.
2. ladle in soup.
3. add some tortilla strips
4. sprinkle generously with cheese.
5. top it off with chopped avocado.
6. store soup in the fridge for 3 days(if it lasts that long!).