Sunday, July 8, 2012

'Great Tortilla Soup' From Rick Bayless: Quick & Easy for Souper (Soup, Salad and Sammie) Sundays

Much of the U.S. is having record heat waves this week so soup may not seem particularly appealing to many. Here, we have plugging along with the usual mid-80's during the day. 70's at night, a little humid but still a good temperature for a warm, slightly spicy soup like this "Great Tortilla Soup" by Rick Bayless. Tortilla Soup, especially when the delicious toppings are fully loaded into the bowl and the warm broth poured on top, is a great soup for any time of year.

This one uses salsa and broth as its base, making it a snap to throw together. It's fun to play around a bit with the shape of tortilla strips too--adding a little festive flair. ;-) I used a homemade garlic-vegetable broth from the freezer to make it vegetarian. I just couldn't resist adding some goat cheese, but you could certainly omit it if you want a vegan bowl.

Rick says, "In our restaurant Topolobampo, we begin by arranging the classic adornments for this soup in wide-rimmed soup bowls. The cheese goes in first, followed by the tortilla strips and avocado, then a dollop of cream and q little crushed dried chile are added for good measure. At the table, we ladle in the dark, aromatic broth, letting it float around the tasty morsels. If you want drama and elegance, follow our lead. Or for fun, pile all the adornments onto a big platter and let guests help themselves."

Great Tortilla Soup
Slightly Adapted from Salsas That Cook by Rick Bayless
(Serves 6)

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups red salsa (I used Rick's Frontera brand)
4 cups rich-tasting chicken stock (I used a garlicky veggie broth)
vegetable oil to a depth of 1/2-inch for frying
6 to 8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch strips
salt, about 1/2 tsp if using unsalted broth
1 cup (about 4 oz) shredded Mexican cheese (I used goat cheese)
1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 to 2 limes, cut into wedges

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high until it is very hot. Add the salsa and stir continuously until it is cooked down to a thick paste, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes.

While the soup is gently bubbling along, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium to medium-high. When a strip of tortilla sizzles riotously in the oil, add about one-third of the strips, fry until crispy (they'll almost stop sizzling when they are ready), scoop out with tongs or a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In two batches, fry and drain them remaining tortilla strips in the same fashion.

Taste the soup and season it with salt if necessary. Ladle into warm bowls and top each with a portion of shredded cheese (scatter it around so it dissolves evenly), a few cubes of avocado and a portion of the tortilla strips. Carry the bowls to the table along with the lime wedges for each guest to squeeze into the soup to their liking.

Notes/Results: Low effort and good flavor, this is an easy version of tortilla soup--especially if you use a good store-bought salsa. I kept the toppings close to the recipe, but you could switch them out and add some protein, chopped cilantro, more veggies or whatever you like. I ended up using some goat cheese that I had on hand and I loved how it melted into the broth as I was eating the soup--making it ultra-creamy. Fun to look at, fun to eat, I would make this again.

Soups and Sides is the theme this coming week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. I am a day early, but once the post is up, you can see what the other Rick Bayless recipes the other participants made by following the links.

It looks as though I might be the only one enjoying a summer soup this week, but we have some wonderful salads waiting in the Souper Sundays kitchen.

Janet of The Taste Space has a pretty Strawberry and Roasted Chickpea Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette to share. She says, "No stranger to strawberries perking up a summer salad, instead of balsamic, this time I opted for a savoury note with cinnamon. Cinnamon roasted chickpeas as well as a cinnamon vinaigrette. Strawberries confer sweetness, toasted almonds crunch with a hint of mint making this a much more complex salads. Serve overtop your favourite greens for a summer treat."

Stash of Simple Kitchen Seasons is back this week with a lovely green Fava Bean, Arugula and Pea Salad, with Cow’s Milk Ricotta Cheese, Lemon Zest and Mint He says, "Favas in the early spring can be used in much the same way as peas — in a vegetable ragoût, in a soup or risotto. As the season progresses, the beans become more mature and thus require lengthier cooking times. Cook favas in lightly salted simmering water until tender, then mash into a paste and season with garlic, herbs and lashings of excellent olive oil. Serve as crostini, in filled pasta or with grilled fish."

 My fellow Hawaii blogger Claudia from Honey From Rock made this hearty Crab Salad with Colorful Pasta Swirls and says, "Going with the proposition that one can never have too many salads in the summertime, (and yes, you can be too thin - think anorexic) we have found another winning combination.  One with crunchy things, savory crabby notes, some green, some red, a carb or two (got to love those colored spirals), a hit of salty capers and a bite of daikon dice.  Just what your day needs to finish in a satisfying manner."

Ana of Sweet Almond Tree prepared a colorful Strawberry and Feta Salad with Honey-Lemon Dressing and says, "There is something about feta that compliments summer fruits very well.  So a strawberry and feta cheese salad is a winner.  If you're wondering, yes, salad dressing goes with strawberries. You just have to choose the right one.  The dressing for this salad is made with honey and lemon and is absolutely the perfect match! The balsamic vinegar, the lemon, the honey, the mint, all these ingredients make a perfect sweet-tangy blend that goes great with strawberries."

Debbie of Easy Natural Food is sharing a tasty Asparagus and Bacon Pasta Salad with Creamy Basil Pesto Dressing. She says, "About 2 weeks ago I was looking after my neighbor’s daughter, Abby, and we decided to make something together for lunch. I had bookmarked several salad recipes from one of my cookbooks that I wanted to try, and we chose this one because we both liked all of the ingredients! ...Abby declared it the best pasta salad she had ever had!  I was so happy that she liked it, and I had to agree with her – it was very tasty!"

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes tried this inventive salad in a sandwich recipe--Greek Salad Pitas with Olive-Garlic Tapanade.  She says, "Okay, this is genius really.  Take a wonderful Greek salad, and instead of mixing in the Kalamata olives, whirl them up into a puree and stuff it in a pita with some spinach leaves.  So good!!  Instead of having a salad and a sandwich, have it all together.  I imagine this would be good also with some leftover roast chicken added to the salad. ... Go make this.  You will not be sorry!"

A terrific sampling of salads this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!


  1. I am loving the salad inspiration, Deb. I was gifted so much lettuce this weekend that this upcoming week will be FILLED with salad for lunch and dinner. many salads to share next week, for sure. ;) Thank goodness for Souper, I mean Salad Sundays! :)

  2. Joanne @ eats well with othersJuly 9, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    There are some soups that I'm totally okay with eating in the summer and tortilla soup is definitely worth it! I'm loving the sound of that goat cheese addition!

  3. Well, you gotta know I love this, right? Right!  And I love your fun presentation. It's been far too long since I've eaten a bowl of Tortilla Soup, btw. 

  4. Lovely interpretation of a classic Mexican recipe.  Great presentation as well.

  5. That Tortilla Soup sounds totally yumm, even if it is summer.   At any rate, we're having fairly cool weather out Hilo way.

  6. Natashya Kitchen PuppiesJuly 10, 2012 at 4:58 AM

    Can you believe I have never had tortilla soup? This one looks so quick and easy too, maybe I'll copy you again! (it's the sincerest form of flattery.... right?)

  7. Looks delicious, and fun! I keep meaning to make a tortilla soup, and this sounds like a great place to start.

  8. That's a lovely soup indeed! I am so jealous that you can get Frontera's sauce over there! And I like your tortilla strips! Your soup looks delicious!

  9. Love this version with the festive and fun tortilla strips and the goat cheese.  Yum!


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