Our northwest fall has been beautiful. In fact, it is so nice today that I hope you will join me for lunch out on the deck. We are having Southwestern Tortilla Soup. Just the thing for those days when the sun is out but the air is just a little bit crisp. One does not eat by soup alone as we all know. We’ll add some grated cheese of our choosing, as well as some home baked crispy tortilla strips. Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?
We will start by making the tortilla strips. This is because we need something to snack on while our soup is cooking away. And this is why we make much more than needed for the soup. Start out with a stack of about half a dozen corn tortillas. I use the ones that say ‘yellow corn’ on the package because I think they just look better. Drizzle with a little canola oil, sprinkle with salt, stack them up and cut into thin strips. I think for this recipe I cut up about a dozen tortillas. See, I told you – this is about twice as much as you would really need if you only used them on soup.
Now all you have to do is fluff them around a little bit so they separate, and lay on a baking sheet. They can overlap – no big.
Bake at 350 degrees until some of them have started to brown and they crisp up. This takes up to 30 minutes, but be on the lookout at the 15 minute mark. You’ll want to toss them around with some tongs once or twice to help them separate and form their own identities. They do not all have to be totally crispy – not to worry, this will happen once they come out of the oven. Below is how they appear when they are done. You’ll probably need to eat about 50 of them to make sure they’re just right. I did.
Now that we have our garnish/snack taken care of, let’s get moving on the soup. We start by roasting some sweet potatoes. To me, it’s easiest to peel with a vegetable peeler, than cut in half crosswise, then slice into planks, just as shown below. That way, it’s very simple to cut into little cubes. Each of these is about 1/2 inch or so, but please do not fret if they are not all exactly the same. It does not matter.
Once all that peeling and cubing has been done, they go onto a baking sheet and get tossed with a little bit of canola oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until they are tender. This will take around 20 minutes or so.
In the oven, they get sweet and turn a darker shade or orange. Some pieces might be a little caramelized (brown). This is not a bad thing. To test if they are done, insert the sharp end of a small knife into a piece. It should feel soft. Or, you can do what I do, which is to jab a piece out with a fork and shove it into my mouth while still screaming hot. Both work. Here is the end result of your labor.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, time to get going on the other vegetables. Side note: this is a recipe where you can add or take away whatever you feel like, so go for it. If you don’t like something, leave it out. If you want more, add more. You catch my drift, I’m sure. Here’s what I chose in addition to the sweet potatoes: white onions, red, yellow, and orange peppers, canned green chilies, fresh jalapeños, corn, and black beans. And then there’s the secret ingredient in the bottom left hand corner – more tortillas.
Get yourself a big old Dutch oven other big pan, and start off by sautéing the onions. They will be ready for company when they start to caramelize and you see some of those little flavorful brown bits forming on the bottom of the pan. This is called ‘fond’ if you are into such things.
Once you’ve got that covered, add the red, yellow, green and jalapeño peppers. Salute for a couple of minutes, then cover with chicken or vegetable broth and simmer until softened.
When those guys get soft, it’s time to add all of the other ingredients (except the tortillas). At this point you will also want to check your salt and pepper levels, and it’s also time to add some cumin and chili powder. As the soup simmers, it will become more thick due to the starch given off by the beans and corn among other things. If this is just how you like it, stop here.
If not, it is time for our secret ingredient. By this time you will have taken 3 or 4 corn tortillas and cubed them up. Grab a handful (about 2 tortillas worth), and sprinkle on top of the simmering soup.
This is where the magic happens. As the soup simmers, the tortillas disintegrate and thicken the soup. The end result is thick, rich, and deliciously corny, corn-like, or however you’d like to describe it. If you want the soup even more thick, add the rest of the tortillas. Hey look, you have soup!!
I would say that at this point it’s time for lunch. We have some options to discuss. Shall we eat it as is?
Well, we could. But how about some cheese? You pick whichever kind you like. I had some some Colby/Jack on hand, so that’s what we’re having today.
But wait, we must add the tortilla strips. They are all crunchy at first, and then kind of meld into the soup. If you don’t like the melding part (it’s really good though, just kind of like noodles), serve them on the side.
Excuse me while I stuff myself. Happy fall everyone!! xoxo
- FOR THE SOUP
- Abut 10 cups broth – use all vegetable broth, canned or homemade, or half vegetable and half chicken broth for a richer taste. Your call.
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 3 peppers, medium diced (I used red, yellow, and orange)
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (optional)
- About 4-6 whole green chilies, medium diced
- 1½ white or yellow onions, medium diced
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, diced into ½ inch dice, tossed with canola oil and salt, and roasted at 350 degrees until soft, about 30 minutes.
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1 inch pieces
- Chili Powder to taste
- Ground Cumin to taste
- Salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, to taste
- FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS
- 12 corn tortillas
- Canola oil
- FOR THE SOUP
- Salute the onion in a large Dutch oven until soft and beginning to caramelize.
- Add red, yellow, orange and jalapeño peppers. Salute for a couple of minutes, then add enough broth to cover. Simmer until softened.
- Add black beans, frozen corn, green chilies, and sweet potatoes.
- Add chili powder, cumin, and other seasonings.
- Bring to a low boil, and add the cut up corn tortillas. Reduce to simmer and allow to cook until soup is thickened and tortillas have melted into the soup.
- Continue simmering until desired thickness. Serve with Tortilla Strips.
- FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS
- Brush tortillas lightly with oiL. Sprinkle with salt.
- Stack the tortillas on top of each other, and cut into ¼ inch strips.
- Place on a baking sheet and toast in a 350-degree oven until crisp – about 15-30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool. Tortilla strips will get crispier as they cool.
- Serve on top of Soup, or on the side if you prefer.