I remember the first time I had tortilla soup. It was in an exhibition hall at the Texas State Fair. My family and I stopped to “watch” a vita mix demonstration (I say “watch” because really we were just waiting for the demonstration to be done so we could get a free sample). The man began by making fresh peanut butter with nothing put peanuts and salt. He then moved on to a simple tortilla soup. I seem to remember him throwing a plethora of veggies into the blender as well as some stock and taco seasoning before blending it all at such a high speed and for so long that it heated the soup up. Then he poured the resulting orange mixture into tiny paper cups and doled them out to the expectant crowd.
Reminiscing aside. . . I found myself craving that particular tortilla soup the other day. However, I don’t have a vita mix so I knew I wouldn’t be able to incorporate whole tomatoes and wedges of cabbage like the demonstrator at the fair. After searching for a while I stumbled upon a super simple tortilla soup recipe.
I chose this recipe because I like the idea of adding a smoky flavor to the soup by first charring the onions and jalapeno. I also thought the idea of thickening the soup with crumbled corn tortillas was unique and sounded delicious.
I was right. This soup is amazing. It tastes very similar to what I remember sampling at the Texas State Fair. It was also super simple to make (and there is no vita mix involved). I served our soup with quesadilla wedges that I layered with a little shredded cheddar cheese and some black beans. I highly recommend serving this soup with something to dip into it because it tastes a little like gourmet taco sauce (in a good way). A healthy way to kick a Taco Bell craving!
Creamy Tortilla Soup(Serves 2-3 large bowls or 4 small bowls)
•1 small white or yellow onion, cut into 6 wedges
•3 cloves of garlic (still in the paper)
•salt & pepper
•1 can (14-oz.) fire roasted diced tomatoes
(or about 4-5 fresh roma tomatoes, roast them with the onions & peel skins)
•1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
•1/4 teaspoon dried cumin
•1/2 teaspoon ancho or chipotle chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon agave syrup (or a pinch of sugar)
•1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
•3 cups veggie or chicken broth
•3-4 corn tortillas*, chopped (plus one extra for crispy topping)
•juice of 1 lime
serve with your choice of:
•crispy tortilla strips (sliced from 1 tortilla, toss in olive oil & salt, bake 10 or so minutes)
•crumbled queso fresco (or feta)
•lime wedges, on the side
•more tortillas on the side (optional)
•avocado slices (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
On a large baking sheet, spread out the onion slices, the jalapeno (still whole), garlic cloves and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes until the edges of the onions blacken, tossing them about halfway through. Remove the garlic after about 5 minutes, so it doesn’t burn. Remove the jalapeno when the skin is blackened and blistering.
Place the roasted jalapeno in a small glass bowl with plastic wrap over it (but not touching it). Let it cool for 15 minutes and carefully peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds. (use utensils if you can, and don’t touch your eye afterward).
In a medium pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil, add the onions, garlic (remove the paper), jalapeno, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, chile powder, a splash of agave or a pinch of sugar, and some salt and pepper. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the tomatoes start to sizzle.
Add a splash of sherry vinegar and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the broth and chopped tortilla pieces and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Transfer to a high speed blender and puree (I used an immersion blender and it worked just fine). Taste and adjust seasonings, adding in a squeeze of lime.