Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tortilla Soup

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that commemorates the Mexican victory over the French army in 1862. In my native Texas, Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican heritage, culture and pride. And we celebrate in style: mariachi music, ballet folklorico, and food, food, food. Growing up, Cinco de Mayo was a favorite holiday. Imagine my surprise when I learned from my native Mexican friends that it's not really a big deal in Mexico. In Pueblo, my friend Abelardo's hometown, they celebrate it. But for the rest of Mexico, it's a minor holiday. But I still like to celebrate it.

So how does a Texan celebrate a minor Mexican holiday in Canada? Going out is not really an option since Mexican food is tough to find here (and vegetarian Mexican is nearly impossible). So I made it myself. I didn't have the energy for making mom's amazingly delicious green enchiladas, so I opted for my "famous" tortilla soup. The recipe is surprisingly easy. And the results are so yummy. We have even served this for company. Without them knowing how easy it was.

Tortilla Soup


  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped (I like bite-sized pieces)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. paprika
  • 2 t. ground cumin
  • 1 t. ground coriander
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • ¼ t. cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ q. vegetable broth
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 t salt
  • cilantro leaves (1/4 cup fresh or 3 T dried)
  • one corn tortilla cut into thin strips (this will get all mushy in the soup and help give it it's yummy flavor)
  • 1 14 oz. can beans (red kidney is what I used
  • 1 14 oz. can whole kernel corn
  • 1 c. shredded seitan or other fake meat (optional)
  1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and garlic. Cook for approximately five minutes, until onions are nearly translucent.
  3. Add spices. Cook onions and spices for another few minutes stirring often.
  4. Add broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro, and tortilla strips. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add beans, corn, and seitan (if using). Return to a simmer. Cook on low heat, stirring occasionally for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Serve with crispy tortilla strips*, grated cheese (optional), and fresh cilantro.
* to make my low(er) fat crispy strips, cut corn tortilla in thin strips, mist with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then bake at 200ยบ F until crispy.

Please leave a comment and let me know if you try this recipe.

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