This recipe for tortilla soup is courtesy of my BFF who really ought to start her own competing food blog since I’m always stealing her recipes. It’s a good use for any post-Thanksgiving turkey stock you might have on hand. You did make turkey stock, right? Right? If not, please deposit your unwanted turkey carcasses in my mailbox.
It was too dark to take a photo when I first made the soup (I rely heavily on natural light to compensate for my failings as a photographer). Instead, I fried some extra tortilla strips and set them aside in a little plastic baggie for the next day when I would be recreating the whole experience. Don’t eat them, I told Husband. I won’t have time to fry more. I have a very narrow 8-hour window of daylight in which to work. Please, for the love of God, don’t mess with them. Then we went through the usual spousal push and pull involved with trying to verify whether or not the request was heard and would be honored. In the end, though, he agreed.
Cut to the next day. I heat up my soup and get ready to apply the appropriate garnishes. Sour cream? Check. Shredded cheese? Check. Avocado? Check. Tortilla strips? Che…wait a minute. Where the hell are they? They’re not on the counter. I yell up to Husband. He insists they’re on the counter, but they’re not. They’re just not. I check all the cabinets. Nothing.
After several maneuvers not unlike trying to dislodge a mule from his favorite resting spot, I manage to get Husband downstairs to confirm that, indeed, there were no tortilla strips on the counter. Or anywhere. And now I’m starting to get mad because the sun is poised to do a swan dive into the deep, dark night, and did we not have a whole conversation about this? I have pretty low standards for photographic composition, but I think tortilla soup should at the very least include some visible tortillas. And he’s mad because I’m making such a big deal about chips. Which is clearly not the point at all.
Me: FIND ME THE STRIPS.
Him: They’re not here. I put them here and they’re not here. I’m sorry.
Me: THE STRIPS!!!
Him: I put them right here. It’s not my fault.
It went back and forth like this for a while. Voices were raised, several levels of maturity were disproven, in what was shaping up to be one of our worst fights ever. So this is it, I thought. The straw that breaks the camel’s back. Tortilla chips.
Him: Oh…oh, wait. (fixes gaze up over my head) Now I remember where I put them…
He reaches up on top of one of the blades of the motionless ceiling fan and produces my bag of chips.
Him: I forgot. I was going to play a trick on you, but I forgot…
Then he ran up the stairs as fast as I’ve ever seen him move.
The sad thing is, after all that, I couldn’t even get mad about it. Well, I was a little mad. The kind of mad where you alternate between sighing and laughing and shaking your head. His punishment? You’re looking at it.
Tortilla Soup for Optimum Marital Health
Cheaper than counseling and just as ineffective.
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut into strips
8 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup cilantro, chopped
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
6 cups chicken or turkey broth
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
2 bay leaves
4 skinless chicken breast halves
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 avocados, pitted & diced
Heat oil in small skillet. Add tortilla strips in batches, frying until golden. Drain on paper towels. Salt well and set aside.
Pour frying oil into large, heavy pot over high heat. Add tortilla pieces (not the ones you just fried, the other ones), onion, garlic, and cilantro, and sauté about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juices, and bring to a boil. Add broth, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaves. Return to boil. Add chicken and cayenne pepper, and reduce heat. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. (I didn’t actually add any chicken here; my homemade broth already contained some shredded chicken. Not a lot, but enough.) Remove soup from heat. Using slotted spoon, remove bay leaves. Transfer chicken to a plate, and let cool. Shred chicken and return to soup. Ladle into bowls. Top with cheese, avocado, dollop of sour cream, and FRIED TORTILLA STRIPS.