phynedyning

Tortilla soup for everyone

In Recipies on October 2, 2011 at 9:57 pm

It has been a crazy week.  Erev Rosh Hashanah, Rosh Hashanah, and Shabbat all rolled into a neat package of 72 hours!  Throw in the usual Torah study, our daily study, and jobs.

No wonder I got behind on giving my readers some new tasty foods to try.

Mexican cuisine runs pretty popular on American palates.  Most polls show Mexican food to be running strongly in front of Italian old favorites and the Asian food craze of the 80s and 90s.

The Phyne Dyner shares the enthusiasm for Mexican foods.  Small wonder, Mexican flavors are deeply related to flavors from the Near East.  The Moors took cumin and other flavors to Spain and the Spanish conquistadores brought the Moorish tastes to the New World where they blended with the cuisines of the indigenous peoples.

Cool!  History lesson is almost over.

With the advent of cooler weather here in America’s Ukraine, those bohemian staple soups are, again, headlining on the Phyne Dyner’s hit parade.

I was introduced to tortilla soup at The Fort Davis Hotel in far southwestern Texas.  The stuff was magnificent and entirely homemade.  I began adding “Mexican Tea” or “epazote” to my bean dishes after a West Texan told me that it tasted great AND cut down on the (a-hem) “music” that often follows a beanie meal.

Tortilla soup, like most peasant foods, uses what is at hand for ingredients.  Since my readers probably do not have stocked restaurant coolers filled with Tex-Mex leftovers or are not coming back from Ojinaga with a back seat full of leftovers from a quinceañera…

…you can use either leftovers or canned/prepared items for your soup.  Remember, it is Phyne Dyning and we make what we have work for us.

Once again, my razor-sharp mind recalled the need for a photo after we had devoured the soup.  It was that good.

One last comment needs to be made.  For a really festive tortilla soup, you can use those tri-color tortilla chips in red, white, and green.  One of the things we miss about Texas, is the availability of tortillas in every color of the rainbow.

Here we go!

 1-2 C cooked chicken (carcass pickings or 1 can cooked chicken breast)

1 C cooked black beans (or a 14oz can, drained)

1 C roasted corn (or 1 C frozen NOT canned)

6 C chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 8oz can tomato sauce (or fresh canned)

1-2 TBS olive oil

½ C finely minced onion

½ C finely minced green pepper or canned chiles (4 oz)

2 TBS finely minced cilantro leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp dried epazote (“Mexican Tea”)

1 TBS lime juice

1 TBS corn starch

2-3 stale tortillas (or tortilla chips as a distant second)

1-2 C shredded cheddar cheese (optional, if permitted)

 Heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the peppers, onions, and garlic until soft and do not let them brown.  While this is cooking, make a slurry of the corn starch and lime juice and set it aside.  Add the chicken (if using), beans, corn, cumin, coriander, epazote, tomato sauce, and broth.  Add in 1 TBS of the cilantro leaves and reserve the rest for garnish.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low-medium.  Cook, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes.  Remove about a half-cup of the broth and allow it to cool before mixing it with the lime juice and cornstarch mixture.  Slowly add this mixture to the soup while stirring continuously.

If the tortillas are stale, cut them into half-inch wide strips.  If they are not very stale (i.e. “hard to brittle”) pop them, one at a time, into the microwave for about 20-25 seconds, remove, and allow them to cool.  Then, cut them into strips.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl, lay a few tortilla strips (or chips) on top and garnish with cheese (if using) and a few cilantro leaves. If you like a bit more zip in your soup, add some hot sauce at the table or add cayenne pepper to taste.  Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Most broth has enough salt, so go easy on the stuff at the table.

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