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A good tomato soup is a wonderful thing. Not only is it delicious on its own, but it can also provide a solid foundation for so many other meals. You may have already made my creamy tomato tortellini soup which is one of my all time favourites. This quick tortilla soup uses the exact same method as the tortellini one, but takes on a whole new life with some zippy herbs and spices.
A solid foundation
Any soup worth its salt starts with an aromatic foundation of onions. Carrots and celery are often in there too. This vegetable base, known as mirepoix is the base for a world of wonderful soups. Once you have these three veggies making magic together in a big pot, you’re in good shape.
Once you’ve got this base together, you get to decide which direction you want your soup to go. Spices, other vegetables, canned beans, dried lentils, canned tomatoes, the choices are endless. Most vegetable-based soups can be broken down into a few basic components.
Anatomy of a good soup:
Onions (celery, carrots, garlic – even better)
Seasoning – Salt, spices, herbs
Other Stuff – Veggies, lentils, grains
Water or Stock
Finishing touches – Cream, fresh herbs, toppers, fresh last minute adds
To blend or not to blend?
This is a question that you should answer early on in the process, because it will inform how you are going to want to chop your ingredients. If you’re planning on blending your soup, who cares what shape your carrots are? As long as everything cooks in a reasonable amount of time, your chopping skills won’t be on display in the final product.
If you aren’t blending, you’ll want to decide how big or small you want your ingredients to be in the finished soup.
This quick tortilla soup is going to be blended, so I don’t care what shape they’re in. For these blended soups I am often inclined to chop the veggies up in the food processor if it’s handy.
Now, about those toppings
The meat of this soup (mind the pun, it’s actually vegetarian) really lies in the toppings. I like things like avocado, lime wedges, cilantro, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, tortillas (obvs), thinly sliced radishes, sliced green chile, cooked spicy sausage, rotisserie chicken, corn, black beans, the list goes on.
For the tortilla component of the tortilla soup, you can either crush up some store bought tortilla chips, or you can slice up your own tortilla strips from corn tortillas, toss them lightly with oil, sprinkle them with salt, and bake them for about 12 minutes on a baking sheet in a 325 oven.
Tortilla soup party?
The abundance of toppings also means that this soup is a great choice to serve at a party. Everyone gets to jazz up their own bowl however they want. I am a huge fan of feeding people something that they get to top themselves. Baked potato parties are another personal favourite of mine for that reason.
Next Day Leftovers (Nextovers)
Nextovers is a bit of a cutesy name for my taste, but it really makes sense. They’re the most clever kind of leftovers. Instead of making a big batch of something and reheating it the next day just to eat it all over again in the exact same way, nextovers are when you make something basic and add different twists on it for each day you eat it. This tortilla soup is a perfect nextover contender because it’s blended smooth and although it’s flavourful, it’s also fairly flexible in its flavour profile. It can be taken a few different directions.
For this nextover application, I stuck with the Tex-Mex vibes and turned it into the saucy component of some really simple black bean and corn enchiladas.
- Cover the bottom of a 9” ovenproof glass dish with a few ladles of leftover tortilla soup. This is your enchilada sauce.
- In a sauté pan, throw together a simple mixture of frozen corn, black beans, a few spoonfuls of tortilla soup, a pinch of chili powder, and some fresh cilantro. Cook for a few minutes just to defrost the corn and turn it into a cohesive mixture. *You can really make any mixture you want here. If you have shredded chicken – throw it in. Pulled pork? You bet. Got an old zucchini in the back of the fridge? Chop it up and get it in there. This is your moment to use what you’ve got, and what you’re in the mood for.
- Roll a small amount of this mixture into 6-8 corn tortillas, and nestle those seam side down into the soupy bottom of the ovenproof baking dish. Use as many tortillas as you need to fill the dish.
- Cover with a few more ladles of the leftover soup, sprinkle with cheese, and bake in the oven at 425 for 12 – 15 minutes or until bubbly and brown.
- Top your enchiladas with sour cream, more fresh cilantro, more avocado, squeeze it with lime, and enjoy!
This is one of my favourite approaches to weeknight dinners. Start with a base, riff on it, and let it evolve throughout the week. This is the best way to keep your fridge organized, your taste buds excited, and your grocery budget low.