I love tortilla soup because it makes a tasty, satisfying meal that makes everybody happy. Pair it with some quesadillas and you’re set. And all without meat! I have trouble coming up with good meatless meals that doesn’t involve spending $$$ on fish for dinner. But this one is good. Really good.
In this soup from Friday, I used hot Hatch peppers because it’s still Hatch season and we love them in this house. But you don’t have to use them. When they aren’t in season, I make this soup using a seeded and minced serrano instead. The heat level ends up being about the same.
- 1 medium yellow onion or 1/2 Texas sweet onion, diced (~2 cups)
- 2 hot Hatch peppers, seeded and sliced (or 1 serrano, seeded and minced fine)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp oil, whatever suits your fancy
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups cooked and rinsed black beans
- 2 cups frozen sweet yellow corn
- 1 cup water + 1/4 cup masa
- handful of cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
- juice of 1 lime
- tortilla chips & mexican cheese blend to garnish
Heat the oil in a big, heavy bottomed pot, and throw in your onion and peppers. Saute them until the onions are translucent and the peppers are soft, then throw in the garlic and cumin. Stir this around and cook for another minute, then add the vegetable stock, tomato paste, corn, black beans, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer. While the soup is heating, prepared your masa.
I suspect tortilla soup originates from a practice of tossing old, tough corn tortillas into a pot of soup to use as thickener. Corn tortillas are just masa and water, flattened and cooked on a griddle. You could thicken tortilla soup with old corn tortillas, but it would need to cook a long time for the tortilla to dissolve and thicken the soup, and I don’t know who has time for that. So I shortcut and use masa.
This is a concept I acquired from the Pioneer Woman, but every time I tried to use it following her instructions, I would end up with wee masa dumplings in my soup and it took a lot of stirring to reduce them to a bearable quantity. It was really annoying. But at the same time, using masa instead of tortillas to thicken the soup is brilliant. So I fiddled around with it until I made it work.
Start with a cup of cold water. Sprinkle your 1/4 cup masa (not cornmeal!) over the cold water. Whisk the masa into the water till it’s smooth and thin without lumps. Pour this into your soup when it reaches a simmer and stir it in well.
(A 1/4 cup of masa has a lot of thickening power. If your soup gets too thick, and it might, adding a cup of water will thin it back out again nicely.)
Let the soup simmer 20-30 minutes, then turn off the burner. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir in the cilantro and then let things sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors meld.
Serve with tortilla chips and mexican cheese blend on top. Add any other Tex-Mex style garnishes you might like. It’s your soup.