Thursday, October 28, 2010

174. Chicken Tortilla Soup, Homemade Flavor (G)

     Our first home in the Ozarks placed us between two very small, rural towns. It was a beautiful setting and offered many advantages that suburban or city life could not. The quality and quantity of restaurants was not one of them.

    The dining experiences we encountered ranged from horrible to awful. We had never seen food prepared with so much grease and low-quality ingredients. We discovered there is a Missouri way to prepare cashew chicken - the chicken is heavily coated with batter, fried hard and added to the traditional stir-fried vegetables - yikes!

    Happily, a tea room opened up ten miles down the road from our place. The owner served homemade soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Tables were set with cloth napkins, antique napkin rings and real china;  obviously, someone cared how the patrons felt. I was hopeful.

    The food we ordered was creatively prepared; the ingredients were fresh and well thought out and the homemade salad dressings were wonderful. The proprietor varied her menu and it sometimes included a tortilla soup so delicious I always wanted more.

    Because this tea room was a small operation and the tortilla soup so very popular, there were times when it was gone by the time I arrived. What a sad event. Even sadder was the day the tea room owner decided her business was too successful and time-consuming. She did not need the money and simply closed down the whole operation. I almost cried - my oasis was gone and so was the wonderful soup!

    My only recourse - to attempt to duplicate the amazing flavor from the 'secret recipe'. While not 100% successful, I love the flavors inherent in my Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. It is easy to make. I used a commercial as the base and it gives the soup a true homemade flavor without all the work. Label this -  comfort food.

(The tortilla strips sprinkled on top are terrific! Directions below).

 Diane's Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 can Campbell’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup (use two cans if you want a less thick soup)
2 C elbow macaroni, cooked (gluten-free may be used)
1 can black beans, drained
½ C frozen corn

Sour cream
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Corn tortilla chips or fried corn tortilla strips
Chopped cilantro (optional)

Put a can of Campbell’s Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup in a large pot, add a can of black beans, the corn and macaroni. Heat through. Ladle hot soup into bowl. Top with sour cream and cheddar cheese. Garnish with tortilla chips or fried strips. Sprinkle with cilantro if desired.

Note: Heat a heavy pan on medium. Add a 1/4 inch of oil in pan. Meanwhile cut corn tortillas, (1 tortilla per person), into 1/4 inch strips. Drop a few strips carefully into the hot oil. Turn with tongs to crips both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain. Continue until desired amount of strips have been cooked.

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