May 2, 2013

Tortilla Soup

vegan and gluten-free, Cinco de Mayo

The first time I tried tortilla soup was at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas over 25 years ago. The hotel was famous for this memorable soup recreated by star chef and leading proponent of Southwestern cuisine Dean Fearing. With the continued increase in the popularity of elevated versions of Tex-Mex food since the 1980's, Tortilla Soup has become a staple on any modern Southwestern chef's menu including my own.

The big problem with enjoying tortilla soup in restaurants is that it is loaded with cheese and chicken which is not exactly consistent with my plant strong diet. Not to worry as the divine flavors and pleasures of this soup are not reliant on these ingredients. In fact, substituting black beans for the chicken and skipping the cheese altogether in this all veggie version of the recipe is just as luscious and satisfying. It also happens to be a lot healthier and lower in calories!

Dean Fearing left The Mansion in 2007 to open his own restaurant, Fearing's. He is still serving his ever evolving version of Tortilla Soup and he is still just as famous for it.

Tortilla Soup

Serves 8-10

For all ingredients, please consider using those that are grown organically.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 red or orange peppers, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and deribbed, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2  28 ounce cans chopped tomatoes
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 quarts vegetable broth
  sea salt
  freshly ground black pepper
Serve with:  
   avocado, cut into chunks
   diced red onion
   fresh cilantro leaves
   black beans
   oven baked tortilla strips
   fresh lime
   

Warm the olive oil in a dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions begin to soften and turn translucent.

Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the spices and cook for another minute or so.

Add the tortilla pieces and stir to combine with the onion and spice mixture.

Add the peppers, jalapeno, and scallions.

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, and vegetable broth to the mixture. Stir to combine and slightly raise the heat. Once the mixture is practically boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 45-60 minutes until the broth has thickened.

Use an immersion blender to partially blend the soup. Or remove about 2 cups of the mixture and puree in a blender or food processor and then add it back into the soup. Partially pureeing the soup will give it more body and is very nice mixed with the textures of the ingredients that are left in their chunkier form. The soup is often pureed in it's entirety before serving and the selection of condiments are offered at the table. I would recommend starting with a partial puree and make the decision for a finer texture after that.

Taste for seasonings. Add sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, or chili powder to your liking. If the broth is too thick, add a bit more stock. It the broth is too thin, add another cut up tortilla or two. It is really difficult to go wrong.

Serve with fresh avocado chunks, fresh cilantro, diced red onion, black beans, fresh lime wedges, and oven baked tortilla chips that have been cut into strips before baking instead of triangles.

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Categories: Gluten Free, Kids in the Kitchen, Soups & Stews, Vegan Entrees
 

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