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Tortilla Soup, take 2. AAAAAAAAnd Action!

I have a favorite Tortilla Soup recipe.  I have never strayed from that recipe.  Until now.  You favorite Tortilla Soup recipe is the freakin' bomb.  Period.  Exclamation mark!  Of course I've eaten tortilla soup elsewhere, from different recipes...but nothing compares.  I know, I know, people's tastes vary as much as the people themselves.  But that's me.  It was actually my 11th post. Ever!  And do I even need to say it is a Rick Bayless recipe?  Didn't think so.  So, for my favorite Tortilla Soup recipe click HERE...but only if you're willing to overlook the "beginner"-ness of the post.  The pictures, the formatting, the newness of it all...remember, 11th post ever!!

But, on to the reason for me finally breaking down and making a different Tortilla Soup recipe.  There are two culprits.  IHCC and Mark Bittman.  And they go hand in hand.  You probably know we're currently cooking the recipes of Bittman over at IHCC and our theme this week is Movie Night! Guess which movie I watched?  Tortilla Soup.  Ha!   It's one of those wonderful foodie movies I adore so much.  A Latino family where the father is a retired chef and has always cooked weekly meals for his daughters.  It's a story of food, family, love and their connections...and there are in our everyday lives.  If you've seen Eat, Drink, Man, Woman or Soul Food...and enjoyed'll enjoy this one, too.  And if you haven't...go rent all three and have a foodie fun movie night!! 
Tortilla Soup
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
yield: 4 svgs.

1/2 c. peanut or neutral oil
6 corn tortillas (stale are fine), cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 fresh chiles, preferably poblano, or 2 dried ancho chiles  I used anchos
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, or one 28-oz. can whole tomatoes  I used canned
freshly ground black pepper
pinch dried oregano or epazote  I used oregano
1 quart water or vegetable stock
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 c. fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish (optional)
1 c. queso fresco, cubed for garnish (optional)  Used this
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced for garnish (optional)  Used this
1 or 2 radishes, thinly sliced for garnish (optional)
1/2 carrot, grated on the biggest holes of a box grater for garnish (optional)

Okay, I'm gonna give you the instructions for the version I made, using anchos & canned get the instructions for the poblanos & fresh tomatoes, see the book...
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  When oil is hot (about 350 degrees F), begin to fry the tortilla strips in batches until golden brown and crisp, turning after a minute or two, for a total of 2-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels, season each batch with a pinch of salt, and set aside.  I didn't season them, just waited to season the soup.  Do in batches if necessary.  Fry ancho chiles for ~30 seconds each.  Set aside.

2. Discard all but 2 Tbs. of the oil.  Turn heat to medium and cook garlic and onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and softened, about 10 minutes.

3.  Add the tomatoes and chiles to the pan with the onion and garlic and crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.  Season w/ salt, pepper and a pinch of oregano;  add the water and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers gently.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, crushing the tomatoes from time to time.

4.  Cool slightly and using an immersion blender or upright blender, purée until smooth.  Return to stove over medium, stir in the fried tortillas, and simmer for another 3-5 minutes.  Season to taste with lime juice, salt and pepper.  Garnish w/ any or all of suggested garnishes.

It was good.  It was really good.  I'm woman enough to admit it.  But, I'm not gonna go so far as to say it was better than my favorite.  But I would make it again.  And eat it.  With a smile on my face.  Head on over to IHCC to see what everybody else came up with on this Movie Night! theme!  I'm also submitting this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays!!