Thursday, March 12, 2009

A TALE OF TWO SOUPS: Part One (Tortilla Soup)

When I'm feeling puny, soup is one of my go-to comfort foods, and as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get much more comforting than tortilla soup. It is the perfect lip-smacking blend of salt and spice, broth and crunch as you're likely to find this side of consciousness. Okay, maybe I overstate its restorative properties, but this is my blog, so I'm entitled.

A few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit off, with not much of an appetite in the bargain. As soon as the ick started to wear off, my stomach impatiently reminded me it needed filling, and I began to cast about for something to satisfy its reawakened cravings. It just so happened that the commissary at work offered up their version of tortilla soup at lunch that week. It's good stuff, if a little salty, and I immediately decided I needed to try and make some myself.

Fortunately that week, I also discovered the wonderful mattbites, and while trolling his archives, found his recipe for tortilla soup. That sealed the deal. There was going to be tortilla soup in my weekend plans!

(Roasting Veggies is fun!)

I informed Herself that I would be cooking dinner Saturday night, and was going to finally treat her for once! (Okay, in case you're thinking that sounds a little sexist, Herself makes dinner often because she's an accomplished cook and a trained chef. While I've gladly served as her sous-chef on many occasions, I've been, well, a little intimidated to cook for her! I didn't want to let her down. Silly Gorilla.)

(Frying the tortillas. They were the white corn kind.)

Well, I can honestly say it turned out... well, okay. No fault of the recipe, it was all me. I forgot to strain the puree, which gave it the wrong mouth feel, I think. I decided to add chicken breast as well, but I didn't really have enough, so it tasted like eating an afterthought. You know...kind of bland and empty and never as satisfying as the real thing. I think I could have used a little less salt, too. It's so difficult to get a good taste while it's still simmering, and very easy to over-salt.

Now that being said -- I had a blast making it! Herself cleared out and left me to my own devices, and despite a few mishaps, I timed everything right. I juggled all the steps perfectly and plated it all at once. It's just soup. Big whoop, I know.

But a big step for me!

(Soups on! I also made some guacamole & opened a bottle of Pinot Grigio. You can see we'd already started on the guac!)

We ate on it for a few days, and added some more leftovers each day. A little rice, a little more chicken. Some extra cayenne. All that post-cooking alchemy gave me a few ideas, and a week or so later, I decided to try again.

Coming Soon -- Part Two: More Soup! (or: Enter the Mhutney)


Hungry Passport said...

Herself is pleased that you're not feeling so intimidated now, IG. I love it when you cook for me. You've got talent--you just need to get in there and exercise it! xo

Ixtlilton said...

It has been great soup weather. I've always like tortilla soup- the combination of soup + crunchy tortillas that are slowly bloating to soupy softness has always been a good comfort food selection for me. I've never tried to make it though.