Corn Tortilla Soup

Many years ago, before the Internet became a big factor, we saw Wolfgang Puck make tortilla corn soup on a cooking show on TV. Having no recipe, we recreated a soup that we thought was a close vegetarian version. For years now we have been making this version of our soup, inspired by that show. In writing this recipe for the website, we discovered Wolfgang Puck’s recipe by googling his name and tortilla corn soup. We found that our version had elements of his but was in many ways different. Our corn tortilla soup has become the favorite soup amongst our Indian family and friends and some go, “Ah! Mexican rasam!” (Rasam is a South Indian tomato-based broth sipped before a meal.)

We suggest using the most tender corn you can find for this comforting soup. Like most soups, this one stays really well for a couple of days in the fridge. Just add the cilantro before serving to keep its fresh green color and flavor.

You can serve the soup with some tortilla chips on the side.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons oil (peanut, canola, safflower, olive)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds (crushed with pestle or spice grinder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds (crushed with pestle or spice grinder0
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 to 2/3 cup)
  • 2 hot green chilies or jalapeno to taste, minced
  • 6 large yellow or white corn tortilla chips
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 16 oz bag of frozen corn (use baby white or baby yellow or two cups of tender fresh corn kernels)
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 2 cups V8 or tomato juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime (nimbu) juice or to taste
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Steps

  1. Heat a large, heavy pan and add the oil. As soon as the oil is hot, add the cumin and coriander seeds. Stir for a 15-30 seconds to brown them. Do not burn the cumin, just let it brown a couple of shades and the time depends on the heat and the pan.
  2. Add the onion and cook 5-7 minutes till the onion wilts and becomes soft.
  3. Add the green chilies. Crush the tortilla chips with your hands and toss them in. Stir and continue toasting the chips for a minute being careful not to burn them.
  4. Add the corn and chili powder. Cover the pan and cook on a medium flame for 10 minutes till the corn is tender. Check and stir during that time to ensure even cooking and no burning. Add a bit of water if needed. Then uncover the pan and cook for another 2-4 minutes till a little caramelization (browning at the bottom of the pan) starts happening. Turn the heat off for now.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and puree it carefully, as it will be hot. Add a 1 1/2 cups of water to get the corn mixture to blend smoothly.
  6. Transfer the mixture back to the pan adding the rest of the water, V8 (or tomato juice if you cannot get V8–the V8 tastes better), and salt. Stir well and bring the soup to a simmer. Keep it simmering gently for about 10-12 minutes for the flavors to blend and the tomato to cook so it does not taste raw.
  7. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Turn the heat off and taste for seasoning, making any adjustments that may be necessary. Serve hot. It tastes wonderful by itself but it is a treat with a spoonful of guacamole on top.

Serves 6. Preparation and cooking time: 45 minutes.

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