Having grown up with a father from Texas, Tex-Mex food like tortilla soup has a special place in my heart and my palette. I make several variations including a clear broth-based version with chicken and poblano peppers and this thicker, vegetarian recipe that is hearty enough to serve for dinner.
This recipe is courtesy of the original celebrity chef, Wolfgang Puck. It’s not too spicy, but has the distinctive Tex-Mex flavors of corn and cumin that are so satisfying. A salad of tossed greens, red onion, and oranges sections makes a nice, fresh accompaniment to the soup. Another big plus, this soup is great for a leftover work lunch! The smell of it reheating is very enticing, so don’t leave it unattended in the microwave or your lunch might go missing.
2 ears fresh corn
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small onion, quartered
1 small jalapeno, quartered and seeded
2 tbls. corn or olive oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tbls. tomato paste
2 tsp. ground cumin
2 quarters low-salt chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Toasted tortilla strips
Avocado, diced (optional)
In large blow, scrape the kernels off the corncobs and set aside, reserving the cobs. Using a food processor coarsely chop the garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper, and corn kernels.
In a large pot, heat the oil and add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the chopped vegetables and simmer just until the vegetables are coated with the oil. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corncobs, and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third. Discard the corn cobs and puree the soup, in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth.
To prepare the tortilla strips: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking tray. Bake until the strips are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, reheat the soup over low heat. Ladle the soup into warm soup bowls and garnish with the baked tortilla strips, avocado tomatoes and chopped cilantro.