“Cook from the heart, and with love.” – Wolfgang Puck
As summer turns to fall and the days get shorter and shorter, I struggle with the strain of not being at home as much as I’d like to. It’s not that I’m spending more hours at the office; it’s just dark on both ends of the day, and it screws with my psyche. When I leave for the office at 6:30 AM, it’s cold, damp, and everyone’s asleep. When I get home at 7:00 PM, it’s cool, brisk and everyone’s done for the day. So recently, I just haven’t been inspired to cook dinner.
Lucky girl that I am, Mr. RGBistro always comes to the rescue. On Monday, I was greeted with a pasta and asparagus dinner (using 100% existing leftover ingredients from the fridge). And on Thursday, I feasted on a chicken cacciatore that Mr. RGBistro spent all afternoon making. Have I mentioned it’s handy to have a husband who works from home?
No matter how tough the day, no matter how late the hour, the stress of the day all melts away the second I walk through the front door. Because inside, there’s a little family waiting for me with a warm wholesome meal, cooked from the heart, and with love. About a year ago, Mr. RGBistro made a batch of Wolfgang Puck’s tortilla soup and gifted me with it for a mid-week dinner. After an incredibly grueling day, it hit the spot.
So this weekend, when I finally had time to survey the garden, I decided to return the favor. With a basket of garden tomatoes, peppers and cilantro, I was armed and ready to make a bowl of weekend tortilla soup. Special thanks to the Irvine Farmers Market for supplying us with corn, onions, and a loaf of the Bread Gallery’s Mexican Fiesta bread.
As long as it’s a weekend, I can cook from the heart with love, too.
P.S. We need your help. We think we’re finally growing out of point and shoot camera. So we’re doing some research on the Canon Rebel XS and Nikon D3000 (entry-level DSLR, because we can’t afford much more than that). What camera do you use, and what do you like or don’t like about it?
- This recipe offers a great way to use stale corn tortillas.
- For the chicken, we roast skin-on chicken thighs with salt, pepper and olive oil at 350˚F for 30 minutes, then let cool and shred into the soup.
Wolfgang Puck Tortilla Soup
~ Serves 6-8 ~
- 2 ears fresh corn, shucked
- 4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 small onion, peeled, trimmed, and quartered
- 1 small jalapeno chili, stemmed and seeded (or 3-4 small garden peppers)
- 2 tablespoons corn olive oil
- 2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato pastes
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 8 cups chicken stock or good-quality canned chicken broth, heated
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
~ Garnish ~
- 2 corn tortillas
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 large whole chicken breast, cooked, boned, and skinned 6 skin-on chicken thighs
- ½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
- ¼ 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup sour cream
~ Preparation ~
Preparation Time: 1 hour
- Using a large, sharp knife, carefully cut the kernels off the corncobs. Set the kernels aside and reserve the cobs.
- Put the corn kernels, garlic, onion, and jalapeno in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse the machine until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- To make the soup: In a large soup pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the squares of tortilla and cook until they are slightly darkened in color and a little crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped corn mixture and sauté just until the vegetables are coated with the oil, about 1 minute. Do not let them brown.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and cumin and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very aromatic, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, heat the stock or broth. Slowly pour the stock into the vegetable mixture, add the corncobs, and summer over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove and discard the corncobs. In a blender or food processor (we use a Vitamix), puree the soup in batches until smooth, taking care to avoid splattering. At this point, if you’d like a finer consistency, you can pass the soups through a fine strainer. Return the soup to a clean pot and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To prepare the garnish: Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking sheet. Bake until the edges are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and dice the avocado. Cut the chicken crosswise into thin strips.
- To serve, add the chicken and avocado to the soup and rewarm over low heat. Ladle the soup into 6 to 8 warmed soup bowls and garnish with the baked tortilla strips, Cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
Nutrition content per serving: 247 calories, 17g carbs, 12g protein, 15g fat, 3g fiber
Cost per serving: $2.40 – $2.52
Source: Live, Love, Eat! The Best of Wolfgang Puck (Gramercy Books, an Imprint of Random House Value Publishing, 2002) by Wolfgang Puck. pp. 30 and 31. Hardly modified by the RGB.