Last night, I set out to create my own version ... its a charming cheat. I didn't toast or rehydrate any chilies, didn't make my own stock, and I most certainly didn't fry any tortillas. I used what I had on hand - some leftover cooked chicken, a few cans of broth, some fresh veggies, etc., - in less than an hour I had dinner. An exquisite, healthy dinner to be exact.
45 Minute Tortilla Soup:
- 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large stalk of celery, leaves included, diced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
- 1/2 of a Vidalia onion, diced
- 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
- a pinch of Kosher salt
- a generous grating of freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. ground cumin (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp. Mexican oregano, crushed between the palms of your hands
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. hot Hungarian paprika (or to taste)
- two 14.5 oz. cans of non-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
- two 14.5 oz. cans of low-sodium vegetable broth
- one 14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
- 1 tsp. unseasoned rice wine vinegar
- dash of Chinese Five Spice powder
- dash of ground cinnamon
- a few drops of Tabasco or Habanero sauce, to taste
- 1 to 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
- 1 to 2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
- 1 large ear of corn, kernels removed
While it simmers, slice the kernels from the ear of corn. Just before serving, add the cooked chicken and corn kernels to the soup, stir and continue simmering until both the chicken and corn are hot. Ladle the finished soup into bowls and garnish with any and all of the following:
- some crushed corn tortilla chips (I like the blue corn variety)
- some chopped red onion
- some chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
- some cubed fresh avocado
- some wedges of lime for drizzling over soup at table
- shredded cheddar, manchego, or crumbled cotija cheese, if desired
As written, this recipe will serve 6 and it is anything but traditional. Most tortilla soup recipes do not call for Chinese Five Spice powder or unseasoned rice wine vinegar ... but that's just how I roll. I like a multi-layered soup and once it starts simmering, I'll throw just about anything in there until it tastes good to me.
My version is lower in fat than the traditional variety as well, because I do not add the fried tortilla strips to the broth. I find that the crushed tortilla chips added as a garnish offer just enough crunch and interest for me and, frankly, I prefer the soup this way. It also allows for the option of using a baked tortilla chip, which would further reduce the fat content. I don't bother with the cheese addition, but the avocado, lime, onions and parsley are non-negotiable for me.
This is a luscious, flavorful and healthy meal in a bowl. Its quick, easy and ridiculously delicious. Believe me, I mean no disrespect to Amanda Hesser. If you have the time, the inclination, and can spare the extra calories, you certainly can't go wrong with her version. Its truly scrumptious. You can find the recipe here. But if you're looking for a weeknight meal that's both light and satisfying, my 45 minute version can't be beat.
I know I said we'd be talking tabbouleh today ... but this post was ready and the tabbouleh has yet to be photographed! Stayed tuned for Thirsty Thursdays tomorrow ... and we'll get to that tabbouleh on Friday.