I dedicate this recipe to my colleague, friend, and artist-extraordinaire, Carlotta Hester, because this is the version I prepared the day after she made a special request for it. It also goes out to those who love Mexican cuisine and could use a delicious, hot cup of soup during the cold winter months in particular. A chipotle pepper, the dried, smoked version of a jalapeno pepper, gives my vegan version a spicy depth and added dimension. The other nice thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, but the flavor will make your taste buds believe it simmered all day long.
3 large tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
one third of a chipotle pepper
3 Tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
salt to taste
2/3 cup water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
West Soy Seitan (optional as a vegan substitution for chicken)
Fried Corn Tortilla Strips
3 – 5 Corn Tortillas
Thoroughly rinse the tomatoes. Cut them into quarters and puree them along with the garlic cloves, chipotle pepper, agave nectar, liquid aminos, and water in a food processor or blender. If you don’t have a food processor or blender, simply chop up the ingredients and sit them aside for now.
In a medium pot, gently heat the olive oil. Soften the onion and then add the ground cumin to wake it up. If you would like a mock chicken tortilla soup, add West Soy brand Seitan that comes cubed. You should chop the cubes into bite size pieces before adding them to the pot. Add the seitan just after the cumin has been heated in the olive oil. Add the pureed mixture to the pot (or the chopped ingredients) and heat thoroughly for at least fifteen minutes. While the soup is heating, finely chop the cilantro. Add the cilantro after the soup has heated for at least ten minutes.
To prepare the tortilla strips, fill a small cast iron skillet with about 1/4 inch of canola oil. Heat the oil thoroughly over medium high heat. While the oil is heating, stack about 3 – 5 corn tortillas and cut them into 1/8 inch wide strips. Add some of the strips to the skillet, but do not crowd them. They should fry in minutes. When they are crisp, remove them from the skillet with a slotted spoon, making sure to leave the excess oil behind. Put the fried tortillas on a paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
Using a ladle or large spoon, add soup to a cup or a bowl. Put tortilla strips on top and enjoy!