I love the hearty warming qualities of tortilla soup this time of year. Serve it for a casual party meal, with a tossed salad of lettuce, jicama, sliced oranges and grapefruit, dressed with cumin-spiced vinaigrette. For dessert serve a tangy lime tart. If you own my Chocolate Snowball Cookbook make the Margarita Tart.
Let your guests decide which and how much of the additions they want (or don’t want) from the assortment of options you arrange on the table. Because I follow a plant-based diet, I make the soup with vegetable broth: my version uses canned tomatoes and chopped chipotle chiles to season the broth. To gratify meat eaters, shredded chicken can be one of the garnish choices.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels, optional
2 to 3 teaspoons chipotles en adobo
6 corn tortillas, cut in strips about 3/8-inch thick
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1/4 pound cheese, cut in cubes or strips (queso fresco, sharp white Cheddar or jalapeno jack)
1 large avocado, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 cup shredded poached chicken (optional)
For the soup:
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Sauté the onions about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook and stir until the onions are soft and translucent, a few more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the broth and the corn, if using. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes. Chop the chipotles and add them. Season to taste with sea salt.
For the garnishes:
In a large skillet heat the peanut oil over medium heat. Fry the tortilla strips until they are just beginning to get crisp. Drain on paper towels. Put the tortilla strips, the cheese, avocado, cilantro and chicken in separate bowls.
Put some cheese and tortilla strips, a couple of avocado slices and the cilantro in each person’s bowl. Add the chicken, if desired. Ladle the hot tomato broth over the garnishes.
Makes about 6 servings.