Monday, February 7, 2011

Tortilla soup

As promised, I made this last Thursday, and it sure warmed up my snow day. I took the leftovers to a snow day soup party at a friend's house, and it was well received there too. I don't often use TVP (textured vegetable protein), which is why I had TVP in my pantry. I must have bought it in 2005 or 2006, thinking that since I was a vegetarian and cooking for myself, I would be using it all the time. That was a long time ago, before I knew much about cooking. I had relied on processed meat substitutes for a lot of my meals in college, so I kind of assumed that "from scratch" vegetarian cooking must use those too. Ah, how young and innocent I was! I have nothing against TVP, but I just don't use it very much. TVP has a somewhat meatlike texture, and I actually found it a very welcome addition to this soup. I was very glad to get it out of the pantry, too.

In this recipe I also call specifically for Arizona Dreaming seasoning. I buy most of my spices in bulk, but I do love going to the Penzey's store, so when I got a coupon for this new seasoning, I went out and got some. It's in the chili powder genre, but it's more complex and has more of a sour taste than most chili powders. I don't actually use that many spice blends, so I keep forgetting that I have this one, but I'm really glad I used it this time. The sourness was just what I wanted for this soup. I wanted it to be not just spicy and vegetal, but to have a little of an acid bite. Of course, the lime juice at the end helps with that too. I also really liked the hint of lime zest in there.

We got Friday off of school for ice. Houston has tons of bridges and overpasses, so precipitation+freezing temperatures makes for a dangerous commute in a lot of the city. My apartment isn't well designed for getting heat downstairs, and my room is the only area that gets tolerably temperate when it's really cold outside. I spent most of my snow day huddled in my room with my laptop working on my thesis. I could barely stand to go downstairs to eat. I'm glad it rarely gets below freezing here.

Tortilla soup

Vegetable oil for sauteing
1 onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 14 oz can tomatoes (I used a can that had japalenos and garlic too)
1/2 cup TVP
1 tbsp Arizona Dreaming seasoning or other chili powder
1/2 tsp lime zest

Chopped avocado
Crumbled queso fresco
Corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried
Lime juice or wedges

In a large soup pot, saute onion, celery, carrot, and garlic in vegetable oil until soft. Add corn, beans, tomatoes, TVP, Arizona Dreaming, and lime zest and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish to your heart's content.

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