Oddly enough, though I lived in New Mexico for five years, and Texas for two, I never had Tortilla Soup until I moved to London. At a small bookshop in Notting Hill called Books for Cooks, there's a cafe in the back, where every day they cook a menu from one of their cookbooks. One day a friend and I stopped in for lunch, and I had the vegan Tortilla Soup. Ever since then, the idea has been in the back of my mind.
I have no idea why I waited so long to add Tortilla Soup to my menu repertoire. It's one of the most delicious soups I've ever made.
I scanned lots of recipes on the 'net and in my cookbooks, but none of them seemed just right. Finally, like I do most times when I want to adapt a new recipe, I just went into the kitchen and winged it, using ingredients I had and that I liked. It's pretty easy to adapt Tortilla Soup to your tastes, since many ingredients are added as garnishes. If you don't like avocado, like I don't, simply don't add it.
I'm submitting this post to this month's No Croutons Required round-up of soup recipes. Check it out. And check out the London- (Ontario!) based blog, Food and Spice, for great Indian (mostly) vegetarian recipes.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 zucchini (courgette), chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
1 can tomatoes
2 cups tomato juice
2 cups water (plus more, if needed)
2 chipotle chiles, plus adobo sauce, (or 1, if your tastebuds prefer less heat)
1 cup black beans
several cilantro (coriander) sprigs
salt, to taste
4-6 corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
vegetable oil for frying
salt, as desired
vegan sour cream or grated cheeze
In a large dutch oven or soup pan, saute the onion in the vegetable oil. After five minutes, add the garlic, cumin, and zucchini. Stir to coat with the cumin, and continue to fry over medium-high heat until the vegetables are soft.
Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, and water. Cut up the chipotle chiles (very small dice) and add to the pot, along with some of the adobo sauce. (Caution: these chiles are very hot! You may prefer to taste before you add the complete amount.) Stir in the black beans, and add 4-5 sprigs of cilantro. Salt to taste. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the tortilla strips: Heat a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. (A small cast iron skillet is ideal for this.) Fry the strips until they've become brown. Sprinkle with salt.
Place several strips into a large soup bowl. Cover with the soup, and add any garnishes you like. Squeeze lime juice into the soup.
After a few minutes, the tortillas get soft and can be cut with a spoon.
Note: If you want to forgo the effort of frying the tortilla strips, or you can't find corn tortillas where you live, simply use tortilla chips from a bag. If you can't find canned chipotle peppers, use fresh jalapenos instead. (Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos.)