Tortilla Soup


Tortilla Soup

(4 servings)

8 corn tortillas


3 white bulb onions (or other mild onion), thinly sliced (about 3/4 c.)

1 t. olive oil

4 c. vegetable or chicken stock

4 c. chopped fresh tomatoes (or Muir Glen canned fire roasted tomatoes)

1 – 2 dried Guajillo chili peppers

1 T. lime juice

3 T. minced cilantro, plus cilantro for garnish

1 avocado, diced

lime wedges for garnish

Crema Agria (or other sour cream)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Slice tortillas into 3/4-inch strips. Cut strips in half. Spread out on a baking sheet. Lightly salt strips, then bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp and lightly brown. Toss strips every 10 minutes while baking. When done, set strips aside until ready to serve.

2. Saute onion in olive oil until crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and cook for about 8 minutes or until tomatoes are cooked down and some of the liquid has cooked off. Transfer to a blender or food processor and puree.

3. Pass tomato mixture through a sieve (to remove seeds and skins) into a 4 to 6 quart pot. Cook at a low simmer for about 30 minutes.

4. Add Guajillo pepper(s) to soup about 5 minutes before serving. Add lime juice and cilantro about 1 minute before serving. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Remove pepper(s) before serving.

5. To serve: divide tortilla strips between four bowls. Ladle soup base over tortilla strips. Top with avocado, crema agria and cilantro. Serve with a lime wedge.

Buen provecho!

Crema Agria (Homemade Sour Cream)

Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I decided to make some homemade sour cream to go with Tortilla Soup. Homemade sour cream is incredibly easy to make and only takes two ingredients. When made with heavy cream and fresh lime juice, it is called Crema Agria. When made with heavy cream and buttermilk, it is called Crema Espesa (or Creme Fraiche). The lime juice version does retain the taste of lime is tangier than the buttermilk version. Either version, however, is thinner and creamier than commercial sour cream, and has a fresher taste.

Crema Agria (or Crema Espesa)

2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. fresh lime juice (or buttermilk)

1. Warm heavy cream on stove until the cream reaches 90  to 100 degrees F (or about body temperature). Do not overheat the cream.

2. Stir in lime juice (or buttermilk).

3. Pour mixture into a glass jar. Cover loosely. Let sit at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours or until thickened. Cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before using.


Eloté: Mexican-Style Grilled Corn

This is a recipe that was sent to me by our friend Brian. We made it for dinner the other night, despite the heat, and it is absolutely the best tasting corn I have ever had. If anyone is thinking about cooking out for July 4th, this would be a great dish to try. The lime-mayo sauce is similar melted butter but with a lot more flavor. The cheese and spices soak into the sauce and add a smoky-spicy-salty component to the flavor. We might just have to have it again this week.


4 ears fresh corn on the cob

3 T. mayonnaise

2 T. fresh lime juice

2 T. fresh grated parmesan cheese

1/2 t. ground ancho chili pepper

1/4/ t. ground cayenne pepper

1/4 t. ground cumin

1/8 t. garlic salt

(1) Peel back the husks on the ears of corn, but keep them attached. Remove the silk, then pull the husks back up. Soak corn in cold water for about 20 minutes. (If your corn is missing husks, wrap the ears in buttered aluminum foil or skip the grilling step and just steam the corn until it is tender.)

(2) Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Spray with high heat cooking spray. Grill corn, turning occasionally, until tender. This will depend on your grill, but probably about 10 – 20 minutes. (To be honest, I always have to test the doneness several times when grilling corn.)

(3) Meanwhile, in one small bowl, combine mayo and lime juice. In another, combine cheese and spices.

(4) When corn is done, pull back husks, brush corn with lime-mayo mixture, then sprinkle with spiced cheese mixture. Serve right away.

Arroz Con Leche: Morning Comfort

The air felt cool and crisp when I got up this morning and the sky looked grey while I was thinking about making breakfast. It was a late breakfast this morning. Usually even in May I start cooking before or right around sunrise, so it was a luxury to be able to step outside to take a peek at the weather.  Feeling in the mood for some comfort food, I decided to make a pot of Arroz Con Leche. Arroz Con Leche – a sweet and creamy rice dish – is a dish that I love, but don’t make often enough in part because I often feel too pressed for time in the morning and in part because I know that if my guests don’t eat it all, I will finish off every last bite myself.  This morning, though, I decided that I could deal with both of those things and just when I was done cooking the rice, I noticed that the cloud cover had broken and the sky turned to sunshine.

Arroz Con Leche

(makes 8 side dish or 4 main dish servings)

1 3/4 c. to 2 1/4 c. water

1 stick good quality cinnamon

2 wide strips of orange zest about 2″ long

1/2 t. salt

1 c. long grain rice

4 c. whole milk

3/4 c. granulated white sugar

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 c. mixed dried berries or currants

Cinnamon Sugar

(1) Place 1 3/4 c. water, cinnamon stick, orange zest and salt in a medium sauce pan. (It is good to use a pan with a glass lid so that you can keep an eye on the rice once it gets added.) Cover pan and bring water to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.

(2) Add rice to the pot and simmer, covered, until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, about 10 to 20 minutes. (The time will depend upon the heat of your stove and the type of rice you are using.) If the water is absorbed before the rice is tender, add a little more water as necessary.

(3) Once the rice is tender, stir in milk, sugar and vanilla extract. Cook rice and milk over medium to medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the milk has thickened just slightly, about 20 minutes. Do not let the milk boil.

(4) Once the milk has thickened slightly, remove the cinnamon stick and orange zest. Stir in dried fruit. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar before serving. Serve warm.

Note: I tried many rice pudding recipes before I settled upon this one –  based on Rick Bayless’ recipe from Mexico One Plate at a Time (Scribner, New York, 2000) – as my favorite for breakfast. It goes nicely with fruits such as sliced bananas or diced mangoes.

Counting Down to Cinco de Mayo: Shrimp Tacos

Tacos don’t have to be just ground beef and shredded lettuce. There are so many yummy fillings that can go in a taco to make a casual yet delicious meal.  On a gorgeous evening, we love to sit outside and eat shrimp tacos … while drinking margaritas, of course!

Shrimp Tacos

1/2 c. cooked fresh corn kernels

1/2 c. chopped cherry tomatoes

1/3 c. diced orange bell pepper (or other sweet pepper)

1/4 jalapeno pepper, diced

1 T. fresh lime juice

1 T. olive oil

1 lb. raw shrimp, cleaned and shelled

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 t. ground cumin

1/4 t. ground chipotle

8 fresh corn tortillas

shredded cheese.

(1) Toss together corn, tomatoes, orange bell pepper, jalapeno pepper (optional), and lime juice. Salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

(2) Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, shrimp, garlic, cumin and chipotle. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until the shrimp are about two-thirds cooked. Add reserved corn mixture to the skillet. Stir to combine ingredients. Continue cooking until shrimp are fully cooked.

(3) While shrimp finish cooking, warm tortillas. When shrimp are done, place two tortillas on each plate. Top with shrimp mixture then with shredded cheese. Serve right away.