I am married to a soup lover and am mother to both a soup lover and a soup hater. Now that it is just two of us here at home, soup no longer feels like a form of punishment for dinner. With all the stormy weather we've been having, last night was the perfect night for soup. Even better - I had the soup itself already in the freezer - all I needed to prepare were the toppings.
I've tried several tortilla soup recipes over the years and I usually like them, but not enough to make the same recipe again. Until we tried this Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe from 101 Cookbooks. It is soup perfection. Truly. I can't think of any soup I love more. I've made a lot of recipes from 101 Cookbooks - her style of cooking really appeals to me and I have had nothing but success. But this...it is amazing. I usually top the soup with just the tortilla strips, goat cheese and oven roasted tomatoes. I always double the soup base so that I have extra to put in the freezer - an immersion blender is a very handy thing for this recipe.
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup Recipe - www.101cookbooks.com
As I mention up above, if I'm treating this like a one bowl meal, I'll toss in some tofu (smoked or browned in a skillet) and some shredded chard as well. Heat alert: I call for 1 teaspoon of spicy red chili powder at the beginning of this recipe - keep in mind that some chile powders are stronger than others. If you (or your family) are worried about the soup being too spicy, scale back. The worst thing you can do is make the soup too spicy too early in the process. If you start out light, you'll be able to adjust the amount of spiciness toward the end. If you like your soup spicier, add more chile powder toward the end. One last note, this is another soup where seasoning is so important. If you haven't seasoned it properly with salt, it is going to taste very flat.
6-8 corn tortillas, cut in half and then into matchstick-thin stripsa big splash of extra virgin olive oilfine grain sea salt
20 small yellow or red cherry tomatoes
another splash of extra virgin olive oil3 cloves garlic, chopped1 large white onion, chopped1 teaspoon ground cumin2 teaspoons ground coriander1 teaspoon cayenne or other spicy red chili powder1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
a few sun-dried tomatoes, chopped1/4 cup of goat cheese, crumbled
Gently toss the tortilla strips with a glug of olive oil and salt. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, arrange them across the pan and bake in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside.
Halve (or quarter) the tomatoes lengthwise and put them in a small roasting pan, oven proof dish, or rimmed baking sheet. Toss with a bit of olive oil and a pinch or two of salt. Bake in a 350F degree oven for 40-45 minutes (less time if you use smaller cherry tomatoes), or until the tomatoes are shrunken and golden around the edges. The tomatoes keep nicely in a jar for days (refrigerated), so you can do this part in advance if you like. Set aside.
Now for the soup itself - in a big pot over medium-high heat cook the garlic and onions in a splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt for just a minute or so. Stir in the spices and then the tomatoes. Cook down for about five minutes or so, it should thicken a bit. Remove from heat, add one cup of the broth and puree with a hand blender (or puree in a traditional blender). Add the remaining 5 cups of broth and puree until smooth. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes.
Serve the individual bowls topped with plenty of tortilla strips, the roasted and sun-dried tomatoes, and some crumbled goat cheese. Alternately, as I mention up above, you can finish with sliced avocado, cilantro, white onions, and a squeeze of lime. If you like a creamier soup base add a splash of half and half, or stir in some extra goat cheese.
Makes about 6 servings.