tortilla soup

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Florida for work and took a little trip to see my aunt and uncle who live there. In addition to getting to spend time with them, an added bonus is that they are wonderful cooks who fed me quite well while I was there. When I got home, I didn't eat for almost a day, I was so full - honest!

While I was there, we had a tortilla soup that they had made that was delicious so I gave it a shot tonight. I'll post the recipe, but then tell you what I actually did since it's often not exact.

Actual recipe:
  • Three 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 lb. pound red bliss or yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 c. fresh corn kernals (or thawed frozen corn)
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 3 c. chopped or shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 c. purchased salsa
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp. lime juice 
  • Chopped or fresh cilantro or basil to garnish (optional)
Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the corn torillas on a baking sheet, then mist them with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine 1/2 tsp. of cumin, the chili powder, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the tortillas. Using a pizza cutter, cut the tortillas into thin strips. Bake them on the middle shelf of the oven until they are golden brown and crisp - about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan over medium, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 1/2 tsp. cumin and cook, stirring, for another minute.

Add the potatoes, corn, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Transfer 1 1/2 c. of the mixture (mostly solids) to a blender and carefully blend until smooth ((I did not do this)). Return mixture to saucepan. Add chicken and salsa and cook until heated through. Add salt and lime juice to taste, and water, as needed, to achieve desired consistency.

So, what did I change? 
  • Well, first off, I forgot to buy tortillas - which seems like an obvious ingredient I should have purchased. If you make tortilla soup without tortillas, is it just "soup"? So, I didn't make the tortilla strips. I also didn't have tortilla chips, which would have been a fine substitute. I put an everything bagel on the side and called it a night. Sigh.
  • In addition to the 1 1/2 tsp. of cumin, I added 1/2 tsp. (or so) of chili powder. 
  • I used 3 medium yellow potatoes (who weighs their potatoes?), about 1.5 c. of corn, and some carrots (not in the recipe). 
  • I think I only put in about 2 c. of chicken - I think that was enough for the amount the recipe makes. 
  • I used medium salsa, which give it a nice little kick. If you don't like kick, use mild.
  • I didn't use the blender for anything - my soup was nice and chunky, just how I like it.
That's it. I love, love, love this and will make it again! 


unstuffed cabbage rolls

As promised on Facebook, I am posting this recipe I got from my aunt Pam. :) I made a request for different kinds of soup to get me out of a rut since I've pretty much been making chili and chicken noodle soup, and occasionally beef stew. I've been trying to freeze soup to keep on hand for quick dinners and, thanks to my FB friends, I have some new options!

Pam sent me this recipe for Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls which, without rice, is soupy -- and with rice is not. I found the recipe she sent online here... and pretty much followed it. The  only major change was that, instead of using 2 regular cans of diced tomatoes, I used Pam's suggestion and substituted one can of Rotel tomatoes for a bit of spice. I'm glad I did!

So, here is how I did it:
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic (original recipe calls for 1)
1 small cabbage
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, regular
1 (14 oz.) can Rotel tomatoes
1 (8 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. sea salt

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute onions until tender, and then add ground beef to brown. Add garlic. Then add remaining ingredients. The recipe notes this is the time to add rice if you want - if you do, do it before you add the cabbage -- otherwise you have to wait until the cabbage cooks down. Trust me.

I used only 1/4 c. rice, which is optional. Mine still had a soupy texture, but you could easily add 1/2 c. and make it a bit thicker. I would imagine more rice would make it kind of like a hot dish or a stew.

In any case, it was yummy - I'll be making this again! Now I just need to figure out which other soup I'll try next!


garden soup

So, it's been far too long since I've written... again... and again, I'm going to try to be better! Turns out it's not always easy cooking for one, but if I embrace the joys of freezing foods (and remembering to eat them again later) maybe I can try some fun things again.

Lately, though, I'd been craving Grandma D's garden soup. Like it sounds, it's soup with fresh garden vegetables -- or in my case, fresh farmer's market veggies. I was telling mom that I have a distinct memory sitting helping Grandma make garden soup and sitting at her table eating it on the farm. I remember what it tasted like exactly, and I wanted that.

She told me her version, but suggested I contact my aunts to see what they think because everyone probably does it slightly differently. But, my aunt and my mom told me the same thing pretty much, so I thought that was pretty safe to try.

Here's what I did:
  • Choose my veggies: kohlrabi, carrots, onion, green/yellow/and purple beans
  • First, I sauted the onions in a little butter in a pot
  • Then, put the veggies in a pot and cover with water (barely)
  • Cook veggies until they are almost done to my liking
  • (add salt and pepper periodically, for taste)
  • Add half-and-half until it's the amount of soup I wanted to make. I'm guessing I used 1 1/2 pints? 
  • Cook until veggies are done (I like them a little crispy, yet cooked)
  • Eat soup

And the result? I had a flashback to Grandma's table - the taste matched exactly the memory I had and I was happy. Does it get any better than that? Great food and sweet memories, packaged in a little bowl. Delightful.

Big thanks to Mom and Belva for the help!