Es Sopa, Cabron {tortilla soup}

So, the soup wars continue. Score? Me: 2, husband: 0. Why? Because I make delicious food, that’s why. It usually goes like this:

Him: What’s for dinner?

Me: Tortilla soup.

Him: What? Yuck. Will you blend it? Can you puree it? I don’t like that. I don’t know.

Me: Trust me. It’s delicious. Yes, part of it is pureed but you add stuff to it and it’s really good.

Him: OH NO! It’s the kind with blended up tortilla isn’t it? Oh gross!

Me: I’ll make you a quesadilla too.

Him: With beans?

Me: No, I’m already making soup. You can have cheese.

Him: Fine.

And, scene.

I’ve come to expect it. Most people try to avoid talking about politics, abortion, religion… our polemical topics? Soups and stews. When the weather starts to turn cold, I start thinking about soup. I could eat soup three times per week from November to March. Our relationship suffers during college basketball season.

The tide may be turning though, I have to say. Monday night, after the first taste, the rest of the conversation went like this:

Him: Um, I just wanted you to know that this sheet is blanking delicious.

Me: (Silent shout of glee and internal high-fiving/fist-pumping) Oh. I’m really glad you like it.

So, naturally, I have to share it with you. I’ve tried several different tortilla soup recipes and this one is definitely the best. The way the tomatoes, onions and garlic are charred in the beginning makes the soup  so much more complex and flavorful and it’s definitely one of the easiest recipes I’ve tried.

Here’s the soup scoop:

  • 6 large plum tomatoes, or 4-5 smaller vine-ripe ones
  • 1 onion peeled, quartered
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 2-3 jalapeno peppers, seeded
  • 6-8 cups chicken broth
  • 2 corn tortillas, torn into 1-inch pieces

And for your garnishes:

  • Tortilla chips or strips
  • Shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Diced avocado
  • Cilantro (optional for Niki, Dad, Dave and Eileen)
  • Lime (IMPERATIVE)

So, I realize these are slightly vague measurements, but go with it. This is a soup you really can’t mess up. I’ve tweaked it based on what I have at home and it’s great, so feel free to tweak as necessary. Only have 6 cups of stock? Fine. Have 9 frozen that you can’t break up, that’s ok too, just pump up some of the other flavors.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Put the tomatoes, onion and garlic in the skillet and start to char it. You can use a dry skillet or add a bit of olive oil if that makes you nervous. The oil will smoke though, so fair warning that you should crack a door and turn on the fan.

Cook these for about 10 minutes until the garlic begins to blacken and soften. I hate peeling raw garlic. This recipe is one of my favorites because I get tasty garlic flavor without getting sticky raw-garlic-flavored fingernails. It’s also a lot more fun to slide the cloves out of their black little skin when they’re warm.

Add the jalapeno to the pan with the tomatoes and onion. After about 2 minutes, pull the onions out and leave the tomatoes and jalapeno in there for another 4-5 minutes until you just can’t take it anymore.

Grab your blender and dump in the tomatoes, jalapeno, eventually-peeled garlic, onions, and the torn up tortillas.

Now add your chicken stock. Two things: 1) Use homemade chicken stock if you can. Or homemade veggie stock. I don’t want to sound like Ina Garten and say things like “use really good olive oil” or “use really good cocoa” because it’s condescending and sounds like she thinks we all use crap olive oil and Hershey bars, BUT… homemade stock really is different. And so much better. And if it’s the majority of your soup, then you’ve got to do it. If you don’t know how to make it, try this recipe. I’ll do a stock post at some point too. Anne’s great, but I’m funnier.

Yes, dear. Now we puree. And remember what I told you about blending hot things a few weeks ago. Put this back on the stove and heat through. Ladle into a bowl and top with crumbled up tortilla chips, sour cream, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro, avocado and a healthy squeeze of lime. Don’t leave out the lime – it really is a great foil to the charred flavors of the vegetables.

Also, don’t forget to add the smugness when you serve it to your anti-soup husband and he loves it.

Print me.

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