melted tortilla soup

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i love tortilla soup. love it. just writing this post makes me want to abandon this task to go eat leftovers, but i will strive to finish this so you can share in my love.

speaking of love, valentines day is driving me a bit crazy. not in the expected sense of being frustrated by all the candy and hearts everywhere. i’ve never been one to celebrate or bum out for this holiday. what is driving me crazy are all the unnecessarily pink foods and sweets that are on food blogs right now! come on, those candy “conversation” hearts are disgusting, why would you cover a cake in them? if anything it would make more sense for people to be posting how to make a steak dinner for your lover or something. well.. you will find none of that here.

i digress.. this tortilla soup is great. having worked in the restaurant industry for years i’ve had my fair share of tortilla soup. most of the time, what you get is a vegetable soup with some extra chili powder and because you get to put fried corn strips on top, it’s called tortilla soup. i even worked with one guy who literally made salsa, heated it up, and called it tortilla soup. it was disgusting. (can you tell i’m passionate about my tortilla soup?)

what elevated tortilla soup to a new level of glory was a woman named jacey who i worked with. the last few months that i worked with her she was pregnant and affected her taste for salt. we had to all take tasting duty so she wouldn’t over salt the food. before the salt tasting was put into effect she way overdid it on the tortilla soup but i ate the whole bowl regardless, it was that good. jacey’s secret was melting whole corn tortillas into the soup. it adds a rich corn flavor and a thick texture to the soup. tortilla soup is nothing to me without those melty tortillas.

last week i got a craving for this soup and searched all over the internet for the jacey method. nothing. finally i said screw it and just guessed as to what i was doing. unlike many of the other times i have decided to do this, it worked out well.

and there is an extra bonus to this melty deliciousness: because there are already chunks of melted tortilla in the soup, the deep fried crisped tortillas are unnecessary. i’m not saying that i would omit them, i’m just saying if you’re health conscious you can go ahead and be healthy. i’ll keep my deep fried corn, thank you.

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tortilla soup
serves 5 or 6

3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2-4 cups vegetable broth
1 green bell pepper, diced
juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
6-9 thick corn tortillas

optional toppings:
3 corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried
sour cream
fresh cilantro
cheddar cheese
avocado chunks

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on medium heat, sauté onion, carrot, and celery together for about 10 minutes until they start to become soft. add the spices and garlic and stir for another 2 or 3 minutes. add the can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups of vegetable broth. simmer on low for 30 minutes.

just before the 30 minutes is up, sauté the green bell pepper until soft. set aside.

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transfer the soup to a blender or use an immersion blender to make the soup smooth. transfer back to soup pot and place on medium heat. add the bell pepper.

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cut 6 tortillas into large chunks and add to soup. stir frequently until tortillas have mostly melted into the soup, about 10 or 15 minutes. the soup is now at the texture that it will remain. if you want to thin it out, add more broth now. (i added two more cups of broth.) at this point i recommend adding another 3 tortillas cut into smaller chunks so you can get big bites of melty tortilla as you eat, but this step is not necessary.

finish with salt and lime juice.

serve with desired toppings.

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