Monday, January 01, 2007

Tortilla Soup, for families on the fly!

The most favorite menu item for Lavie and Alvis when we dine out at any of our local Mexican restaurants is the humble tortilla soup.

They both order it with more liquid than vegetables.

I've tried numerous pre-packaged tortilla soup mixes, but none deliver what we are used to in the restaurants...they are all too thick and "beany".

So a month ago, I chanced across PBS's America's Test Kitchen when they were preparing their own version of tortilla soup (recipe here if you don't want to register). As I watched them make it my brain was analyzing the ingredients and preparation method. The result was very close to what the girls like but seemed to take a great deal of work...and for this post-workday cooking dad, that was too much work. But....if I was clever and took some tips from Rachel Ray...maybe....

Thus was born Claus's 20-minute Tortilla Soup recipe which has become a staple in our home.


1 10 oz. container of Kroger's fresh black-bean salsa. (in the produce section)

1 32 oz. carton of chicken broth. (I prefer to use organic for better flavor and quality)

16 oz. of water (more or less to taste)

1-2 packages of pre-packaged and pre-cooked diced chicken breasts.

1 16 oz. jar of chipotle red salsa (I use the Arriba brand).

bag of tortilla strips chips. (I find ours in the organic food section of the grocery store)


To a medium-sized stock pot, add the chicken broth. I then add about 1/2 a carton (16 oz.) of water to thin it out a bit. Add more or less water to your taste.

Next add the full container of black bean salsa. This works great as the base as it contains whole black beans, diced onions and tomatoes, a few diced jalapeno's, and whole corn. It is all pre-done for you and adds the perfect amount of vegetables.

Next add the chicken pieces. If your family likes meat, add two packages. I usually get the pre-cooked/packaged kind to save cooking time...but I have also made it with fresh chicken breasts I have diced up...just be sure to simmer long enough for the chicken to thoroughly cook. You may also have to skim some protein foam off the top if you use fresh uncooked chicken.

Now add about 8 oz. (half a jar) of the chipotle salsa. (More or less to your taste). The first time you make this you may want to add just 1/4 of a jar and work your way up.

Bring to a boil...then reduce to a simmer for about about 15 minutes (longer if you are using uncooked chicken!).

Serve with tortilla strip chips and Mexican or Spanish yellow rice on the side.

Diced avocados are great in it as well.

Easy and yummy!

Serves the three of us for about two days. Even better the next day.

I don't know if you will have as much luck finding these specific brands (like in Nicki's Kitchen currently holding court over in Japan), but you can probably find easy substitutes for everything. Just don't substitute away form the chipotle style salsa. Get another brand, but its the fire-roasted pepper flavor that gives the flavor body to the soup. Nothing less will do!

Cooking for Engineers

Although I chose not to join in the family occupation by becoming an engineer, my brother and dad are none-too-shabby cooks in their own rights, and it's fun to tease them as engineers.

So this site Cooking for Engineers has a ton of greatly logical recipes and tips that engineers would feel right at home with, and non-engineers can even enjoy.

And who could beat their recipe flowcharts? Priceless!


Great videos from some of the most kawaii kids you will ever run into -- Spatulatta: Cooking 4 Kids -- and they earned a 2006 James Beard Foundation award to boot!

Have fun in the kitchen!


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