• CRAIG BRYAN

Healthy Recipe, Veggie-Tortilla Soup for a Crowd



Big pots of serve-yourself soup are great ways to feed a crowd on a wintry evening that are easy on the host. But finding one that’s full of flavor and meets just about any dietary need can be tricky. This one, adapted from a recipe in Carrie Morey’s “Hot Little Suppers: Simple Recipes to Feed Family and Friends” (Harper Horizon, $34.99) does the trick deliciously. Garlic, fresh and roasted peppers, chili seasonings, and lime juice brighten the flavor of the tomato-rich soup base. Gluten-free corn tortilla strips are fried in just enough oil to crisp them up — then used both as a thickener and as a garnish alongside other toppings to be added by guests as they wish.


This serves eight to 10. If you’re not feeding a houseful, the versatile soup is well worth making ahead and refrigerating or freezing for meals to come. For a spicy riff on the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo, serve it with a simple quesadilla: Sprinkle grated cheddar cheese between two tortillas, then toast in a lightly oiled skillet over medium-high heat until crispy on both sides and cut in wedges.


— From Susan Puckett Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.


Ingredients


· 2 poblano peppers

· 4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil

· 8 corn tortillas, cut in ¼-inch strips

· Fine kosher or sea salt

· 1 red bell pepper, cored and diced

· 1 large yellow onion, diced

· 5-6 large cloves garlic

· 1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle with sauce or 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or to taste)

· 1 tablespoon ground cumin

· 1 teaspoon ground coriander

· 2 (28-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes

· 8 cups vegetable broth

· 1 Grated zest and juice of 2 limes

· bunch cilantro, tied in a bundle with kitchen twine


Optional toppings:

Greek yogurt or sour cream, thinly sliced radishes, chopped fresh tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, sliced scallions, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, crumbled cotija or grated cheddar, shredded chicken, cooked shrimp, sliced and lightly fried chorizo, crumbled bacon, skillet-grilled corn kernels

Instructions


1. Roast the poblanos either by holding them with tongs over the open flame of a gas burner or set on a baking sheet under the broiler as close to the heat source as possible. Tun them with tongs until blackened and blistered on all sides.

2. Remove the peppers from the heat and place in a paper bag or wrap in paper towels, allowing them to cool and the skins to loosen.

3. Peel off the charred skin, cut the peppers open, and remove the core and seeds. Chop the peppers and set them aside.

4. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add tortilla strips in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pot, and let fry until golden and crisp. Transfer with tongs to the paper towel-lined plate to drain, and sprinkle immediately with salt.

5. Drain and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the oil from the pot, fishing out the burned bits. Add a little more fresh oil if necessary.

6. Add the chopped poblanos, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and sauté over medium heat 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. Add half the fried tortilla strips to the pot and reserve the rest for toppings.

7. Stir in the minced chipotle and sauce (or chipotle chili powder) cumin, coriander, and tomatoes.

8. Blend the soup until smooth in the pot using a hand-held immersion blender, or carefully transfer in batches to a blender and puree, then return to the pot.

9. Add the cilantro bundle to the soup and bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice and taste for seasoning, adding more salt or chipotle if desired.

10. Remove and discard the cilantro bundle, then serve the soup with the tortilla strips and other toppings.

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