In observance of meatless Monday and its message of sustainability and “being green” I decided to ride my bike to work this morning ( my car was also acting up but that’s another story). Orlando is not the most biike friendly city in the world and so I find myself riding on the sidewalk at a much slower speed all the time. This might have saved me from a great deal of pain this morning because in a not so bright display of common sense, I rode my bike with my apron rolled up against my handle bar ( we cannot take large personal bags into work so a backpack was not used). As I made my way to work down the cobblestone sidewalks of historic Winter Park, the apron straps became loose and got tangled on my front wheel pulling the entire apron to come between the break pads and the tire and causing a sudden halt. Luckily I was not going as fast and so I simply did a semi front flip over my handle bars and landed on my right arm. So the lesson this Monday is; Be green but safety first, wear a helmet and do not try to balance anything on your handle bars as you ride (wear a backpack). However, back to being green, riding a bike to work is the perfect way to complement your going-green-for-meatless-Mondays effort. Seriously, when people at work found out I had ridden to work they seemed so surprised, as if it was an out of this world concept… When did riding a bike become such an archaic way of transportation? I don’t get it? Anyway, on to the food!!
Tortilla Soup! Ah yes, Mexican comfort food at its best. Crunchy baked tortilla strips, creamy, buttery avocado, and a smoky chipotle spice make up this classical south of the border delicacy. I figured it would be fitting to make today because a looong time ago I worked in a Mexican kitchen. My first job ever! Delicious Mexican Eatery is known to El Pasoans as the home of the most authentic Mexican food you can get (other than your abuelita’s home ofcourse). In fact, Julia Child payed a visit long ago and got a few tips herself from the very knowledgable ladies that work in the kitchen. There was a daily special everyday of the week and Mondays was always tortilla soup day. That tortilla soup had chicken, but today I made mine with veg stock and a side of black beans.
To make a hearty and healthy tortilla soup you need to saute a small onion in a deep pot. Add small diced celery and garlic. Sweat for 5 minutes the add 1 tbs of chipotle powder, 1 tbs ancho chile powder, and 1 tsp of cumin. I like to get my chile spices from Pensey’s spices because they are always so fresh tasting, but you can actually grind up the dried peppers yourself if you have time. Now add 1 cup of finely diced tomatoes and allow to simmer for five minutes. This will build the foundation to all the flavor in your soup. Now you’re ready to add veggie stock. If you don’t have any stock you can use water instead or even chicken stock if you decide to make this soup some other day! I used 2 qts of veg stock. Allow the broth to simmer for at least 30 minutes so that all the flavors can concentrate and you get a richer soup. While the soup is simmering, bake a corn tortilla until crisp and golden. Please don’t burn it. I always burn mine =(. To serve ladle some soup broth into a bowl, top with crunchy tortilla pieces, avocado wedges, a bit of grated queso blanco ( found in any supermarket), and lots of cilantro, epazote, and lime!!!! Eat with black beans on the side for the perfect dinner! Enjoy and happy M. Monday!!