I know I?m late to the game, but soup is my new make-it-up-as-you-go-along meal. My mom didn’t make many soups when I was growing up, so maybe that?s why I never realized how easy they can be. But to think, without a recipe you can turn a pot of tap water into something this delicious…
I made my own shortcut version of stock based on my memories of watching Ina Garten. I didn?t have three whole chickens as she requires, but filled the soup pot with water, added four frozen chicken tenderloins (something on the bone would surely be better), a carrot, some celery, a few unpeeled shallots, cabbage leaves, dried rosemary and lots of salt and pepper. Knowing this would be tortilla soup, I tossed in the stems of a bunch of cilantro, which would have gone in the trash otherwise. The shallots worked well since I was out of garlic (kitchen blasphemy, I know).
After an hour, I strained the broth, saving and chopping the chicken, carrots and celery stalks after throwing out the rest of the mush. From there I added stewed tomatoes, corn and anything else that seemed right in tortilla soup: oregano, cumin, chili powder, lime juice…
It would be good with black beans, zucchini, bell pepper, chilies and anything else you can think of. I know I’ll be improvising more soups in the future, and you should too.
All measurements are an approximation of what I tossed in.
- 8 cups of broth or homemade stock (even something as haphazard as described above works fine)
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
- 1 can stewed tomatoes
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- quarter of a head of cabbage
- 1 cup corn, canned or frozen
- 1 chopped onion and 2 cloves garlic (or a few shallots)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- Cayenne to taste
- Tablespoon of lime juice
- Any or all of the following for garnish: Monterey Jack cheese, avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream , fresh cilantro
If you have stock already, start the soup as you would so many others: cook the carrots, celery and onions in a large pot with oil or butter. Add salt to help soften. Add minced garlic, careful not to burn. Season with more salt and pepper, oregano, cumin, chili powder and cayenne. When vegetables are soft and coated with seasoning, add tomatoes, including their juices, corn, cabbage and broth. Simmer 10-20 minutes.
Otherwise, do as I did, throw celery, carrots, onions, garlic (whole, unpeeled), chicken and herbs (rosemary, cilantro, parsley) into soup pot of water with a good amount of salt and pepper. Simmer for an hour, then strain. Keep the chicken, celery and carrots. Start a new pot to soften fresh onions and garlic (or shallots). Add chicken and sliced celery and carrots. Season with oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, corn, cabbage and strained stock. Simmer 10-20 minutes (ours was on the shorter end; we were hungry).
Serve with cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, chopped cilantro and