Soup

Quick & Easy Tortilla Soup

This is perhaps the Mexican equivalent of the American "tomato soup and grilled cheese"… try it for lunch one day.

This is perhaps the Mexican equivalent of the American “tomato soup and grilled cheese”… try it for lunch one day.

Now that Cinco de Mayo just kind of sneaked up on me, I figure I’d best do something quick and easy. Since I just made some fairly complicated enchiladas a couple of weeks ago, I have something much easier to make.

My tortilla soup is a wonderful, tomato-based soup that can be made as spicy or as mild as you like, just by changing out the jalapeños for a hotter pepper. I’ve made this with chicken broth, but you can also easily go vegan by using vegetable, instead.

Tomatillos! They are very interesting looking, too.

Tomatillos! They are very interesting looking, too.

 

The only ingredients that you might have trouble finding are the tomatillos, but if you look hard enough, you should be able to find them.

Quick & easy, here we go~

1 white onion, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced (or any spicier pepper, if you desire)
5 tomatillos, diced
1 4-oz can diced green chiles
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth or stock
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoon chile powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
kernels from 2 ears of corn
tortilla strips (make them from corn tortillas~ I’ll tell you how)
cilantro for garnish, and/or plain yogurt, avocado

 

Fresh corn makes it better

Fresh corn makes it better

Cut corn like this… it's so much easier

Cut corn like this… it’s so much easier

 

In a large pot, cook onion on low heat, until onions caramelize. Add in the jalapeño peppers, tomatillos, and diced green chiles and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and garlic and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring to mix. Add in the cumin, chile powder and cayenne. Cook for 45 minutes, then turn of heat and allow to cool for a bit.

When soup has cooled, whir with an immersion blender to liquify the solid ingredients. Add in the corn kernels and cook on medium heat for about 30 more minutes.

Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips. Preheat the oven to 400º F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying with cooking spray. Thinly slice the tortillas (make as many as you like!) into strips and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Cut the tortillas into strips

Cut the tortillas into strips

Spray again and put into the oven. Give them a stir after about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some salt and stir again.

Baked tortilla strips

Baked tortilla strips

Remove from oven when they are golden brown and crispy, about another 5 minutes.

Tortilla strips~ have the ready to sprinkle on the soup

Tortilla strips~ have them ready to sprinkle on the soup

 

When the soup is ready, garnish with some cilantro and the tortilla chips, and maybe some plain yogurt and avocado.

Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup

Easy Mexican Tortilla Soup

Serves 4.

 

Salad and a quesadilla are great options to serve with the soup

Salad and a quesadilla are great options to serve with the soup

 

Those tortilla strips go great on salad, too!

Those tortilla strips go great on salad, too!

Have a wonderful and safe Cinco de Mayo!

A Gift of Chayote, Brings a Gift in Learning and a New Recipe

I consider myself very fortunate that Monty has a job at a major landscaping company, here on the island. I also feel fortunate that I’ve made a friend or two there, too. Monty came home with a little gift for me the other day. Randy, who runs the nursery, sent Monty home with a couple of chayote. I realize I’m probably really stretching your brain cells here, because I had to look this one up myself. But, I must have heard of it before, because I looked at it, plugged the name into Google, and bingo~ that was the one. Something must have registered in my brain, even if it was long ago.

Chayote

Chayote

It would make sense that I’d heard of it before, because after looking it up, chayote (pronounced chay-yo-teh) is actually a squash of sorts known around the world, albeit by many different names. It turns out that the two I was given are white and are considered rarer, since most of them are green. It also seems that they are originally from Mexico, so I guess I’ll be authentic and cook them up in a Mexican way.

Mexican chicken-chayote soup ingredients

Mexican chicken-chayote soup ingredients

I found a very, simple recipe online for soup to get me started. I’m adding chicken to this, but this can be easily made vegan, by leaving that out and changing the chicken broth to vegetable. Here’s my adaptation…

1 quart chicken broth

1 small white (or yellow) onion, minced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely diced

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

2 chayotes, peeled and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (or any other oregano will do)

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, divided~ plus more for garnish

salt & pepper to taste

Discard the seed inside the chayote

Discard the seed inside the chayote

Knowing what I know now, peel the chayote first. I would highly recommend holding it with a paper towel while peeling it with the other hand, because it got quite slippery~ it kept wanting to fly out of my hand! The skin is also quite hard, so be careful you don’t do damage to yourself with the veggie peeler. Fortunately, it cuts very easily. There is one big seed in the center, much like an avocado. Just discard it.

Chop into 1/2-inch pieces

Chop into 1/2-inch pieces

After dicing the chayote, set it aside.

Boil chicken, then allow to cool until can handle

Boil chicken, then allow to cool until can handle

Put the chicken thighs into a pan and cover them with water. Boil them gently on the stove top until they are just cooked. They should be tender and their juice should run clear when pierced with a fork. Set them aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred or chop chicken, then cover and refrigerate until needed.

Add in the chayote, cilantro and oregano

Add in the chayote, cilantro and oregano

Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter and sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes over medium heat. When the onion turns tender and translucent, add the chayote, oregano and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro to the pot and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Then add the chicken broth and 1 tablespoon of cilantro, stir and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower heat, cover and simmer for  about 1 hour, or until the chayote pierces very easily with a fork. Add salt and pepper, taste and adjust, if necessary.

Ready for the blender

Ready for the blender

Allow to cool for a bit, then blend the soup with an immersion blender.

Add in the chicken and reheat

Add in the chicken and reheat

 

Once blended, you may be surprised how creamy it is. Add the chopped chicken and reheat the soup again.

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Chicken Chayote Soup

Chicken Chayote Soup

Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and a little cilantro garnish on the soup, and with a salad and tortillas or cornbread to make a complete meal. Serves 4.