Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Probably Appropriated Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

Things that are a problem when you're a terrible photographer who also thinks it's a good idea to write a food blog:
  1. Foodgawker will reject most of your photos
  2. When they tell you why, you won't understand the critique (seriously, how is this underexposed? Isn't it too bright? Can someone explain this to me?)
  3. Sometimes, on the day you were planning on cooking during the daylight, it's slush-snowing and gray and disgusting outdoors.
All of that is an explanation for why the background on this photo is literal snow.

Not pictured: me in my puffiest coat, reconsidering all of my life choices.

Also on the list of life choices to reconsider? The weekend this fall when we canned 25lbs of plums, made what must have been a quart of chimmichurri, dehydrated 30 tomatoes and 20 red chilis and accidentally picked 73lbs of tomatillos. In the process, we had to peel 109 cloves of garlic and sliced enough jalapeƱos to give both my roommates a coughing fit. I ended this canning season with twenty-two jars of tomatillo salsa and am now down to eleven. Eleven! I mean, I did give away quite a few, but I've also made this soup twice, and I think you should too.

The basic concept- a broth hacked by dumping in an entire jar of tomatillo salsa, bulked up with hominy and tortilla chips- comes from a soup I used to buy in high school. When I went to recreate it, I tried to find some actual basis in Mexican cooking. Perhaps unsurprisingly, I came up short. I found a green pozole in Margarita Carrillo Arronte's "Mexico, the Cookbook", but it wasn't really related- it contained oxtongue, pork rinds and sorrel, and didn't have chips. (As a side note, I would like to eat that entire book). Meanwhile, none of the tortilla soup recipes I found had hominy. I even emailed the Chicano Eats guy hoping I could find precedent somewhere, but I think I'm on my own. 

So yes- I think way too much about food, and this soup is highly inauthentic. 

Regardless, it's perfect for winter. The actual soup takes half an hour and mostly involves opening cans, and the toppings can be adapted to whatever you've got hanging around, can find seasonally, or (as in my case) is cheap at your local overstock food store. The chips and avocados are essential, but besides that it's an open field- cilantro, chopped onion, extra limes, chopped green onion, sour cream, cheese, some other shredded greens... just make it fresh and crunchy, so you can pretend it's spring. 

(SIDE NOTE: Guys, I have a problem. I've gone from a total preservation novice to the kind of person who sees everything as a canning project. My farm-wife and I went to Zion over New Years, and our Airbnb had a pomegranate tree, and long story short I spent New Years Eve standing on a lawn chair thwacking pomegranates with a trekking pole.)

Probably Appropriated Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

2 cups prepared good quality tomatillo salsa 

1 25oz can hominy
1 15oz can pinto beans
8 cups broth of your choosing (I used Better Than Bouillon's veggie base!)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper. 

Dump the salsa, hominy, beans, broth and oregano into a large, heavy pot and stir. Bring to a simmer slowly, with the lid on- in my dutch oven over low heat, this took about half an hour, but if you're using a regular pot I'd suggest medium heat*. Regardless, you want to give it at least 30 minutes for the flavors to combine. Add salt, pepper and lime juice, but DO taste the soup first- since there's a wide variety of tomatillo salsas, the one you use might be very different than mine. I found it needed quite a bit of black pepper and almost two tablespoons of lime juice. 

Ladle into bowls, and top with crushed tortilla chips, cubed avocado, and whatever else you'd like. Pictured above: rough-chopped cilantro, red onion and thinly sliced radishes.

*Ok, recipe complaint- I always, ALWAYS have a hard time with the whole 'bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer' part of recipes. I find that once something's boiling, it's almost impossible for me to keep it on any heat at all without it coming back to a boil again. Is this just me? I always end up taking the whole thing off the heat for a little bit first. If you are less simmer-challenged, feel free to interpret those instructions as 'bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes". 

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