Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is a hearty tomato-based vegetarian dish with a kick. The source of this recipe is lost in the mists of time. Maybe it fell out of a library book or I found it stuck to my shoe or something. Anyway, I didn't make it up, but a large part of being able to cook is being able to pick a gem out of the mountain of recipes we see. I've made only minor modifications.

Olive oil
6 6" corn tortillas, cut into 1/4" strips
8 scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
3 cups chicken broth
3 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup (or more) chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
Corn kernels, 1-2 ears worth, cut off the ears
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Finely shredded cheese (optional)

Sautee the garlic, jalapenos, and green onions until fragrant and soft, maybe a minute or two. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, cilantro, cumin, salt, and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil at a time in a frying pan and fry the tortilla strips. Be careful not to smoke the oil. When each batch is crispy, lay it on a couple layers of paper towel. You will use a fair amount of oil to get them crispy without burning them.

Once the soup is done simmering, add the lime juice and stir. Ladle into bowls and top with tortilla strips. If you like, you can also top the soup with finely shredded cheese, maybe cheddar. Not too much or you'll get "french onion soup syndrome" where you have to cut through the cheese layer to get to the soup.

Jalapenos freeze well, so you can have them "fresh" (not pickled or canned) all year long. Here's how to do it. Wash your jalapenos, cut off the stems, and halve them. Dip the halves in water and place them, cut side down and not touching, on a foil covered cookie sheet. Put them in the freezer. When done, they'll release easily from the foil; put them in baggies and keep them in the freezer.