Loaded Tortilla Soup ~ Minus the Tortilla…

So remember when I said the wind would start blowing from the North at any moment now? Well, I was right! It’s been below freezing the last couple nights and the days have been gorgeous – crisp and cool and so refreshing!

We joke around about how one must grow gills to breath in the South because it gets so humid in the summer you can cut the air with a knife. Needless to say, one starts feeling rather fishy with gills. Every autumn I feel like I’m coming back to life – morphing into the nose breathing human I was the spring before. Yay! Hello world! I’m alive again!

And AND, get this! It’s soup season!

Tortilla Soup has been a long time favorite of ours. Well, that is, this recipe for Tortilla Soup has been a long time favorite. I’ve never tried another version that beats it.

So my friends, today, on this deliciously chilly evening, I share it with you. I hope you love it as much as we do!

To start off, I give you a very unappetizing picture of a whole chicken, which is the base for our soup. Yep, that’s right, just throw a whole chicken (frozen or thawed) into a pot, add some salt, a couple bay leaves and a dried chile pepper, if you have one on hand, and simmer away for a few hours until the chicken falls off the bones.

Strain the broth and pour back into pot.

Remove meat from bones, shred or chop into pieces and reserve for later on in the recipe.

Chop one onion, mince some garlic and add to broth along with the spices and a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes.

Give it a stir.

Now, here’s where things get weird, but I’ll explain, so you understand why I do what I do. (And no, it’s not because of the gills, or lack thereof! :)

Toss a handful of organic cornmeal into the broth. Go ahead, do it!

Tortilla soup recipes call for corn tortillas, right? And they get all soggy and unrecognizable and turn to mush, right? And if you’re avoiding GMOs (to avoid becoming ill) and buying organic corn tortillas that are expensive, why on earth would you want to waste good tortillas in soup if you can use cheaper organic cornmeal instead?

So there ya go! Makes all the sense in the whole wide world. Aren’t you proud of yourself for being so thrifty?

Bring the soup to a low simmer and cook covered for an hour or two.

The recipe we use calls for straining the solids out of the soup and throwing them away, but I blend it all up in the blender and return it to the broth. It makes a thicker and more hearty base.

Saute reserved chicken in a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.

Cut some of those organic corn tortillas into thin strips, toss in olive oil and fry in a skillet with a little salt and pepper until they start getting crunchy.

Shred some cheese.

Chop some cilantro.

Cube some avocado.

Cut a lime in wedges.

Open a carton of sour cream.

It’s time to dig in!

Pile everything into a bowl…

Ladle the hot broth over the top…

…and enjoy!

Here are the details for you –

Tortilla Soup

1 whole chicken

water to cover chicken

2 bay leaves

2 t. salt

1 onion, diced

1, 28oz can diced tomatoes

1 T. cumin

2 T. chili powder

1/4 c. cornmeal

more salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes –

  • chicken
  • avocado
  • corn tortilla strips
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • limes

The Reuben – Redone

So I couldn’t help it. The last post really was the last one of the year…until last night. 
I was just going to make Reubens – without the camera. But as I put all the ingredients together, something possessed me and I ran upstairs for my trusty Canon. This recipe was just too good not to share with you.
If you are a lover of Reubens, as I am, I hope you’ll agree. 

The ingredients are temptingly fresh. From the quick and easy sauerkraut, to the made from scratch Thousand Island dressing, a think you’ll appreciate this combo.
The Bread – I love rye with caraway seeds, but sourdough is a good choice too. Thin slices are super nice in my opinion. There is something about a sandwich that is bigger than your mouth that just isn’t appetizing. Maybe I’m just weird, I mean, I eat hamburgers with a fork.

The Meat – I roasted a turkey for these and finely shredded the meat, making sure it was is bite-sized pieces. I don’t know about you, but I dislike biting into a turkey sandwich and pulling out a 6 inch long piece of turkey. Pet peeve of mine. I’m not a picky eater, but I can be pick about my food. :D
The Cheese – Swiss is traditional, but we obviously aren’t going traditional here. Some members of my family like swiss, some do not (read emphatically!), so I use provolone, or cheddar… or Swiss.

The Kraut – You can buy this in a jar or a bag in the refrigerated section of your grocery store, or you can make this quick and easy recipe that is just as good or better.
1/2 head of cabbage, thinly slivered
1 t. salt
1/2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 c. vinegar (I used a mix of red wine vinegar and white)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and tamp down for about 5 minutes. ( I use the end of a french rolling pin for this step. A thick wooden spoon would work too.)  This brings out the cabbage juices, helps meld the flavor and breaks up the cabbage a bit more. Cover and chill for about 3 hours.
The Dressing – You can simple buy Thousand Island Dressing or the traditional Russian dressing, but this recipe is a thousand times better. The original called for a quart of mayonnaise, which would make a lot of dressing. I scaled it down to half size here. There’s a lot of chopping going on. I did it by hand because I wanted that look, but it would taste just as good mixed in the food processor using the chopper tool. As another option, here’s a recipe that pretty much uses the squirt and stir method.
2 eggs, hard-boiled and diced
1/8 c. worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 t. sugar
1/8 c. white vinegar
1 pinch of cloves, ground
2 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sweet pickle relish
1/4 c. diced black olives
1/4 c. red bepper, diced
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill until needed. 
Assemble the sandwiches with the ingredients in the order listed above.
Top with another piece of bread and butter generously.

Place butter side down in a preheated, buttered skillet, or butter side up on a panini griddle. Cook until the outside is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Oh yum!