Friday, October 7, 2011

Tortilla Soup & Crispy Bits

I called my sister recently to ask for her recipe for these little crispy bits she makes out of tortillas. Well, I guess you would just call them tortilla chips. But they're extra delicious and crispy and that doesn't seem to capture it entirely. Anyhow the conversation went something like this:
Me: Hey how do you make those tortilla crispy strip thingies?
Her: What?
Me: You know, those crispy tortilla strip things you make with tortilla soup?
Her: Yeah.
Me: How do you make them?
Her: You just... fry them in oil.
Me: But what kind of oil? And for how long? How do I know when--
Her: You just fry them in vegetable oil or canola oil and take them out when they're done. It's really easy.
Me: Okay. Thanks....
Her: Are you making tortilla soup?
Me: No.
Her: WHAT? You have to! It's easy! Do it!
And then she texted me the recipe. And I bought some unfamiliar spices and have since entered a new era of my life full of deliciousness.

So! If you are looking for a yummy, relatively easy, very healthy recipe then... look somewhere else. But if you are looking for a yummy, relatively easy recipe then by all means continue!

Tortilla Soup & Crispy Bits
package of corn tortillas (I usually get a 30-pack)
petite diced tomatoes
chili powder
cayenne pepper
chicken broth
optional- chicken, rice, spicier things
garnishes- tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, avocado

Start by putting some rice on to cook, however much you'd like to make. I'm not here to micromanage you. I like to cook 1 and a half cups of rice along with a half cup of quinoa. Also, if you want chicken in your soup now it the time to start that as well-- cook and then shred or dice it.

Chop up an onion and then brown it in your soup pot.
Cut or tear up four corn tortillas and add them along with 1/2 cup of diced cilantro. Cook that for 4 minutes. I don't know why it is 4 minutes; I don't make the rules.
I usually tear or cut up the tortillas smaller than I did in this batch. This one turned out fine, though.
Add 28 oz petite diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.
Yah, sorry, some of these are crappy cell phone photos and some are from my camera. Because these photos are actually from two different times I made this recipe. I figured it was better to be thorough than fancy?
Add some spices:
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
I find it easier to measure these into a separate bowl first before I toss them in the pot with the rest of the soup-- less opportunity for the lid to fall off the cayenne pepper bottle and ruin my day.
And 2 things of chicken broth (or 8 cups). If you are using chicken add it now, too. I usually don't.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Done.

You can make your crispy tortilla bits and soup at the same time or separately. Either way, here's whatcha do. Cut up the rest of the corn tortillas from your package (you won't be sorry you used them all, trust me). Fill up a pan with canola oil (or some kind of oil). Heat up the oil. Put the tortilla strips in.
Take them out when they are crispy. Let them drain onto paper or cloth and sprinkle generously with salt.
It's really less of a "sprinkle" of salt and more of a "handful."

I throw a clump of rice in a bowl, then cover it with soup and garnishes. KC does the same, but he usually chops up a spicy pepper and adds that to his.
Really, this soup is more of a vehicle for garnishes, so here's where you want to get out your avocado, sour cream, cheese, and of course your crispy tortilla bits.
That is the photo I took and sent to my sister the first time I made the recipe. Really, my setup looks more like this:
Soup, garnishes, and beverages. I like to dip the tortilla strips into the sour cream and then float them in the soup. Annnnnd now you know why I don't call it healthy.