Tortilla Soup

The warm weather in Chicago this week has my mind solidly split between fall and winter. It’s hard to think about planning the Thanksgiving menu when the sun is shining and it’s 55 degrees out. So, I’m hoping that the final menu will come together before Thursday morning.

A couple of weeks ago one of my readers asked if I had a tortilla soup recipe. And I do – I happen to love this soup, and stockpile sweet corn and cobs in the freezer all summer so that I can make this soup when the weather turns cool. I was amazed that I hadn’t blogged this recipe yet, so I’m happy to finally share it with you.

I’ve adapted this soup from Wolfgang Puck. When I worked at The Cradle, there was a Puck’s Cafe about 7 blocks away, and a few times each year I would go there for lunch, specifically for soup. I’ve always enjoyed watching Wolfgang on TV – he’s a high-energy guy with an infectious love for the food he cooks – and the man KNOWS soup. There are very few restaurants where I will order soup, but Wolfgang’s crew can make me soup any day, as their soups have a very homeade, slow-simmered taste.

This tortilla soup is hearty, and full of chile and corn flavors. Sauteeing the squares of corn tortilla in oil before cooking the vegetables will help to thicken the soup later on – without the inclusion of wheat! If you want to make the soup even heartier, you can add a can of hominy to turn it into posole, or add some shredded cooked chicken. Next time you feel like a spicy, warming soup, give this one a try.

One year ago in the Whole Kitchen:
Thai Coconut Curry Butternut Soup, Root Vegetable Hash

Tortilla Soup
adapted from Wolfgang Puck

serves 5

2 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed from cob, and cobs reserved (or use 1 cup of frozen corn)
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion (about 2 ounces), peeled, trimmed, and quartered
1 small jalapeño pepper, trimmed and seeded
3 poblano chiles
1 T chipotle puree
1 tablespoons oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 T ground cumin
6 cups chicken stock or broth
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

tortilla crisps (see below)
chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Using a large knife, carefully scrape the kernels off the corn cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs.
  2. Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, coarsely chop the garlic, onion, jalapeño and poblano peppers, and the corn kernels. Reserve.
  3. Make the soup: In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the chopped vegetables and simmer just until the vegetables are coated with the oil. Do not brown.
  4. Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, chipotle puree, cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor – the mixture will grow very thick. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corn cobs, and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third – about an hour
  5. Discard the corn cobs and purée 3 cups of the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return the pureed soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the tortilla crisp garnish: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking tray, and toss with 1 T of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake until the strips are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes.

239 cal/bowl, 60 cal from fat, 6.9g fat, 620g sodium, 370g potassium, 37g carbs, 3g fiber, 11g sugars, 8.9g protein

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