Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tortilla Soup=Winter Comfort Food (Great for A Gathering of Artists!)

Independent Study group at Art Cloth Studios, January 2011
I love love LOVE tortilla soup!  It is a great meal to serve for friends with a variety of food lifestyles because it can be served in such a way that vegetarians and carnivores can share it.
I like to make the soup base with most of the vegetables included and keep chicken and more fragile vegetables and embellishments separate until serving.

12 cups soup stock or broth (vegetable, chicken, or a combination)
1 jar Goya brand sofrito soup base (optional) (I used approximately 2/3 jar for this recipe)
1-2 pints of grape tomatoes, quartered, or 2-3 roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
3 carrots, sliced into big chunks
2 yellow squash, sliced into large chunks
1 or 2 zuchini, sliced into large chunks
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 ears fresh corn (kernels removed from cob) or 1 can corn kernels, well rinsed
fresh cilantro (optional)
several avocados cut into large chunks
salt and pepper
dried oregano 1-2 tsp
dashes of tumeric, smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 fresh jalepeno or 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce (seeds removed and chopped) (or both if you like spicey!)
other seasoning herbs, to taste
olive oil
jack cheese (optional)
queso fresco (optional)
roasted chicken, shredded into bite-size pieces (optional)
sliced corn tortillas, fried until crispy and drained, or leftover restaurant tortilla chips or store-bought

In a large heated soup pot add 1-2 tablespoons olive oil.  Once warm, add onion and garlic and saute until translucent.  Add carrots and continue sauteing for several minutes.  Add squashes and stir.
Allow several minutes to pass before adding soup stock or broth, sofrito, then herbs.  Bring to a slow boil.
Once liquid is boiling add corn and chilis, and remainder of seasonings.  Allow to cook at a gentle boil until carrots are soft (fork tender).
In the meantime, shred cheese, chop avocados into large chunks, rinse and pull cilantro leaves from stems and place in separate bowls.  Cover until just before serving.
Remove meat (both white and dark) from chicken.
*Note-sofrito is a concentrated mix of tomato, green pepper, onion, and spices.  It adds a lot of flavor to the soup base.  It is found in the Mexican food section of most grocery stores.  Don't worry if you can't find it because this soup is good with or without it.

 I like to serve this buffet-style for a group:  Left to right I put the bowls, chicken, soup, then all the add-ons.
Place chicken in soup bowl and ladle the soup broth and vegetables over the meat.  Add cheese, avocados, cilantro, and even a bit of pesto or chimichurri and sour cream.  Finally, top with either freshly fried corn tortilla strips or crunched tortilla chips from the store or a restaurant.  Yum!

This can be prepared in advance and reheated.  It is great with other casseroles, tossed salad, or all by itself on a chilly day.  It always tastes better with friends and loved ones.
This soup is so colorful and appealing

Here is our meal:  served with tossed salad and a wonderful rice salad prepared by Lisa Kerpoe,
and southwest style tortillas.  Delicious!

This recipe serves 8-10 hungry artists

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