January 21, 2012

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

This is a perfect soup for anytime of the year but it tastes even better on a chilly evening. The basic recipe is something I picked up from my long-time friend John Giammona, and I've modified what I remember as his recipe, to a vegetarian, plant-based version. 

Prep Time: 20-30 min with frozen and canned veggies.

1) 1 lb frozen pepper and onion fajita mix (Green and Sweet Peppers and White Onion, diced).
2) 1 tbsp minced garlic (~2 cloves)
3) 2-3 tbsp ground cumin (or 2 tbsp cumin seeds).
4) 1 can of crushed/diced tomatoes (a large tomato, diced).
5) 2 cups of canned vegetable broth*
6) 1 jalapeno (sliced, optional).
7) salt and pepper to taste
8) 1 cup whole kernel corn (canned or fresh frozen) or hominy.
9) Tortilla chips (plain) (optional)
10) 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced (optional)
11) 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Line a large stock pot with water or vegetable broth and add in the vegetables (peppers and onions) and cumin and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Once the cumin releases its aroma, add the tomatoes, jalapeno, and vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low and simmer on the back burner for 20 min. Stir in the corn or hominy and boil for another 5 min. I used a can of golden hominy (corn kernels without their germ, and their hull or bran). Corn is much healthier but hominy works in a pinch! If you want a blended soup, blend everything with a stick blender before adding the corn. Also add other Southwestern additions like black beans to this soup to make it heartier. 

Serve in deep bowls over crumbled tortilla chips, or scoop it out with a chip. Garnish with fresh cilantro and avocados. For the kids, you can also garnish with a little grated cheese. I like my soup chunky with a lot of chips. Remember, both the chips and avocado are optional and the brothy soup tastes great even without the extra garnishes.

Mom had an old fashioned food mill!
* This is how my mom made vegetable broth - In a pressure cooker, or deep stock pot, add lots of chopped/sliced/diced vegetables (cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, peas, corn and whatever else you can think find). Add 3-4 cups of water (a pressure cooker will probably use half that water). Steam the veggies for 10-15 min in a pressure cooker. Probably 30 min in a stock pot. Allow it to cool and then pass the mix through a food mill, or blend it in a food processor and strain. Add the juice of one lemon/lime and refrigerate immediately. It keeps well for 24-48 hours.  

** And this is how I make Vegetarian home-made broth at home with my own fruit and vegetable scraps. 

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