Dinner last night was based on this recipe, found at epicurious.com. However, there were a few key challenges that I had to deal with. First off, I do not own a blender/food processor. Recently I have been running into this problem a lot with soup recipes--they all call for a flimflammin' food processor. This seems unnecessary, since I know that soup has been around a lot longer than blenders. I mean, if you let something bubble on the stove long enough, it's pretty much going to liquify into an unintelligible (and tasty) mess anyway, so why the strong reliance on blenders? It's a crutch, that's what. Well, I've had enough. Poohpooh to food processors, I say!
Second was the call for two exotic sounding, dried chili peppers. My car is still firmly stuck in the icy confines of the parking lot, so I'm pretty much restricted to the tiny Giant and the TJ's within walking distance of our place. I am not complaining, as this set up is more than adequate. However, these peppers were a little beyond the scope of my resources, so a compromise had to be made.
Finally, I was cooking for two vegetarians--the BF Clint and my friend Priya, in addition to the meat-eating me and friend Rob. Thus, the usual switches from meaty to veggie were made, as well as a few add-ins that happened just 'cuz. So, without further ado, I give you blender-less, vegetarian tortilla soup!
12 5- to 6-inch-diameter white corn tortillas
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups water
1 white onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans, drained and washed
1 can corn kernels, drained and washed
Pinch of baking soda
4 cups vegetable broth
Shredded cheese (I got the fancy Mexican blend)
Lots of avocado, peeled, pitted, diced
This part is fun--Cut 6 tortillas into thin, stubby strips. Heat 2/3 cup oil in medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Test it by throwing in one of the strips--if it immediately starts bubbling like mad, you're there. Working in batches, carefully add about a handful of tortilla strips to skillet; toss (not with your hands!) until crisp and golden, about 1 minute. Using a utensil that won't fuck up the bottom of your skillet (I recommend chopsticks), transfer strips to paper towels. One at a time, fry 6 whole tortillas in oil until golden and almost crisp, about 30 seconds per side. Transfer to paper towels.
Now, combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers, corn, black beans, water, broth and baking soda in a big 'ole soup pot over medium heat. Break up the whole fried tortillas and throw those in too. Give it a good stir and bring to a nice boil. Once she's a-boilin' lower the heat and let simmer and reduce a bit. Once the toms have disintigrated into the soup, it's pretty much ready to serve. Add some salt and pepper to taste if that pleases you.
If you're lucky enough to own a ladle, by all means use that fancy-pants ladle to get the soup into bowls. Garnish the top with a handful of the fried torilla strips, a dollop of avacado and sour cream, and a pinch of cheese. I know all of these things are wonderful and delicious, but try not to overdo it on the garnishments--don't make the same mistake I did. Eat and enjoy!
A Few Notes
This soup came out really well and was pretty easy to make. There are a few things I will do differently next time, though.
- Heat: Not quite spicy enough for me. A little cayenne and maybe a few more jalapenos would fix it right up, I'd say.
- Tortillas: A little soggy. Next time I think I'll add them a bit later, so they keep a little bit of their crunch.
All in all, though, this was a fine soup, and I'll probably make it again. My love for tortilla soup was sparked by the excellent tortilla soup at the Burrito Joynt. Excellent post-wisdom teeth extraction fare, and fragrant with chicken, tortilla, and thriftiness.