Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Perfect Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is my absolute number one favorite kind of soup. With that said, I have been on the quest to make the greatest, most authentic tasting, flavorful tortilla soup out there. After endless attempts resulting in great but not spectacular soup, I came to a standstill. I researched recipes online and in books and they all varied around the same basis, but didn't have exactly what I was looking for....until I discovered a new flavor of canned soup at my store...Vegetarian Tortilla! I have never seen vegetarian tortilla soup premade before so I eagerly bought it and it was awesome. But how did they get all that tortilla flavor in there without having any actual tortillas? Clearly they would get really I looked at the ingredients and sure enough I found what I was looking for...
Masa de Harina is cornmeal flour used for making tortillas or tamales and a variety of other delightful Mexican goods. You can find it in the Spanish section of your grocery store or the baking section where all the other flours are.
By adding Masa to the soup base, I am able to get that great deep tortilla flavor. Combined with other herbs and spices, I feel confident that my tortilla soup has reached greatness!

Rich corn broth with pinto beans, fresh roasted corn kernels, cilantro, sweet red onions and topped with creamy avocado, sour cream and lime salted tortilla strips.

Tortilla Soup
1 yellow corn cob
2 tbl extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, small dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbl salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tbl tomato paste
2 tbl masa de harina
4c No Chicken Broth or Vegetable Broth
Juice of 1/2 a lime
3 tbl cilantro, chopped
1-15oz can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
1c thinly sliced yellow zucchini squash

10 corn tortillas, halved and thinly sliced into strips
1 lime, zested
sea salt
2 tbl corn oil or canola
1 avocado, cubed
Vegan sour cream
cilantro, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat the oven to broil and toss the corn cob right on the top rack and roast until the kernels start to char. Remove and cut the kernels off and set aside.

In a large stock pot, heat the oil and saute the onions until soft and slightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and toss until fragrant, 3 minutes. Add the salt and cumin, mix. Add the tomato paste and masa and stir to combine. Keep stirring for 2-3 minutes to cook the raw flour flavor out. Add the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pot, make sure to scrape off all the bits on the bottom. Add the lime juice and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld. Add the beans, zucchini and corn and cook on low, gently simmering the soup for 15 more minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with foil.
In a large bowl toss the tortilla strips, lime zest, sea salt and corn oil. Arrange on a single layer and bake for 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes until they are crispy.

Fill a bowl with soup and add the avocado on the bottom, top with sour cream, cilantro, tortilla strips and a lime wedge.

To me, the garnishes to tortilla soup are almost just as important as the base. So don't skimp out on them!

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