Peanut Butter and Purple Onions

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Monday, January 09, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday #2: Tortilla Soup

After all that drama with the timbale, I needed some low-key kitchen puttering to regain my confidence. And, as it happened, I also needed to finish -- okay, start and finish -- the book assignment for my new book club. This, of course, meant that Sunday was going to be soup day.

I love making a soup from stock to completion in one lazy day. As you all know, there's something quite soothing and fulfilling about starting with a refrigerator drawer of veggies and ending with a simmering pot. I almost always make vegetarian soups, partly because Deborah Madison was my first soup instructor and partly because I rarely have extra meat on hand.

So, Sunday was Tortilla Soup day. This is really a magnificent soup, and with all the toppings, it's got a pleasing ceremonial quality to it. Making the Red Stock is almost more fun than making the soup itself. And your kitchen will smell wonderful!

I guess this doesn't make it high on the Antioxidant-Rich Food list, but it does have veggies -- so I'm making it my contribution to Sweetnicks's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday collection. Head on over and check out the other recipes!

Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Serves 4.

For the Red Stock:

1.5 T. olive oil
2 med. yellow onions, sliced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, chopped
5 white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 T. tomato paste
6 garlic cloves
6 outer leaf lettuce leaves
stems from 1 bunch cilantro
1/2 c. coarsely chopped Italian parsley
2 tsp. salt
2 quarts water

Heat the oil in a soup pot on medium-high heat. Tip in the onions, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and dried herbs. Cook, stirring from time to time and breathing deep, because it will smell so, so good, until the onions are quite limp and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir, then add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot halfway. Simmer for 45 minutes, then strain. You should have about 6 cups.

For the Soup:

6 c. Red Stock
2-3 T. olive oil
1.5 medium or 2 small yellow onions, sliced into 0.5" rounds
4 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2-3 jalapeno chiles
2 c. canned tomato sauce or 2.5 lb. fresh Roma tomatoes
1 tsp. pureed chipotle chile (optional)

Heat your broiler. Brush about half the oil over the onions, chiles, garlic, and tomatoes. Put them on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil 4-5 inches away from the heat. Turn each vegetable as it browns, and don't worry if the tomatoes and chiles blister -- that's exactly what you want. Remove each vegetable as it finishes browning (peel the garlic cloves). Toss everything in a blender and puree. (If you're using the tomato sauce instead of fresh tomatoes, add 1/2 c. water to the blender with the vegetables.)

Heat the rest of the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the puree and cook, stirring, until it thickens a bit, about 3-5 minutes. Add the Red Stock and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Stir in the chipotle if you're using it, and taste for salt. (I rarely add any.) You could strain the soup at this point, but the texture is more satisfying if you don't.

For the Toppings:

2 pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
1/4 - 1/2 chopped cilantro
1 avocado, diced
tortilla strips, fried, baked, or plain as you like
crumbled queso fresco or feta
1 lime, quartered

All of these are optional, but I especially think you need the avocado and queso fresco, particularly if you've boosted the heat with an extra chile or two. Toasting the chiles is easy -- heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and toss the chiles in. Press down on them so they sizzle and blister in spots. Be careful not to burn them. When cool, tear them to bits.

Add whatever toppings you like to your bowls at the table. Oh, but the lime is for squeezing over the top.

* Using 3 chiles makes this soup quite spicy. I recommend using 2 the first time you make it.
* While the vegetables broil, the vapors can get pretty thick. You may want to crack a window.
* Dimples prefers to add cheddar cheese because he doesn't care for feta or queso fresco. I like queso fresco best, but I couldn't find it at the local store, so feta was just fine.
* Dimples likes rice in soup, so I make a batch of basic rice and he stirs in a cup or so.
* You could add shredded roasted chicken to boost the protein.
* I calculate the soup itself at 2.5 Weight Watchers Points per serving, before toppings.


  • At 4:58 PM, Blogger Kristen said…

    Hey BNA, I love your blog! I just saw it for the first time after reading your comment on mine.

    You're a New Yorker, too! That's so great. New York bloggers should organize some sort of group or something.

  • At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Clare Eats said…

    Great looking soup! I think it would be nice with all the heat here...

  • At 1:50 AM, Blogger Culinarily Obsessed said…

    Yummy I LOVE Tortilla soup! I bet this was a tasty treat for dinner =)

    Btw, I tagged you for a meme, check it out

    Hope you'll join in =)

  • At 9:27 AM, Blogger BNA said…

    Hiya Kristen! I'm liking the NY blogger idea. We should get that ball rolling!

    Clare, you bet, it's a fantastic warm-weather soup. Great way to use up those tomatoes.

    Hi Jaay -- yay, a meme, a meme! I'll put my thinking cap on.


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