Tortilla Soup

As part of lent, I’m trying to do less time wasting. Which means no facebook (except to link to new blog posts) and instead of just spending wasteful hours on pinterest, pinning things that I’ll probably never do or wishing for things that I don’t have, I’m making an effort to actually spend time making some of the recipes and crafts that I pin. I really would like to be more creative and spend time doing things that I love instead of spending all of my spare time with my face in front of a computer. I get enough of that at work every day, thank you very much.

All of that to say, this lovely tortilla soup recipe caught my eye on pinterest (originally from the Cooking Photographer) and I am so glad that I tried it! It was pretty dang easy, made for a ton of leftovers, and was oh-so-delicious topped with avocado, a bit of cheese, and tortilla chips.

I also had been lookin’ for a good soup recipe so I could use up some of my homemade veggie broth. It has just been hanging out in my freezer for a few months now, waiting to be used up on something delicious. Well, veggie broth, your time has come. I had wondered if it would taste any different than store-bought broth, but it tasted great. It also felt good knowing exactly what went into it – no preservatives or ingredients that I could barely read the names of – just vegetables and water. I think I also had been delaying using it because I thought that it might take forever to defrost and I would have to leave it out overnight before using it (of course, you could heat it up to quicken the process), but it wasn’t a problem. I just set the container out on the counter around lunchtime and most of it had thawed by the time I was ready to make dinner.

Anyway, enough about the veggie stock. Onto the soup…

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet paprika (or regular paprika will do)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons light colored oil
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (4 ounce) can diced mild green chiles, drained
2 (10 ounce) cans RoTel Diced Tomatoes with Lime & Cilantro*
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
4 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1/2 a lime

*I couldn’t find the diced tomatoes with lime & cilantro. Instead, I got regular canned tomatoes, and added a couple tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro and the juice of 1/2 a lime to the soup (In addition to the 1/2 a lime that the recipe already calls for).

1. In a small bowl, mix together cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, coriander, salt and black pepper. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and peppers. Sauté until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the spices and garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add the green chile peppers, diced tomatoes, corn, and veggie broth. Cook until warmed through.

4. Add the black beans and cook for 2 minutes before serving. Squeeze in lime juice. Serve in bowls and garnish as desired.

Yum!

I apologize for the horrid lighting. The soup, on the other hand, is anything but horrid. It’s the perfect winter meal, loaded with veggies and some spice (but not too spicy)! Enjoy it!

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Mushroom & Tofu Quesadillas

Picture this: It’s a Monday night. You’ve just gotten home from work with no plans for dinner, and you don’t exactly have a well-stocked kitchen. You spend a long time standing in front of your fridge, door open, staring into it, hoping a meal will just put itself together.

This is an all-too-common scenario for me, and probably for many of you, too. I kind of hate this and I kind of love it. Hate it, because most of the time I just want something easy and I don’t feel like concocting a recipe out of whatever random ingredients I’ve got. But I love it because it is a chance to get creative and to be resourceful. I really try not to waste food. Of course it happens sometimes anyway, but on nights like these where I need to make up a recipe on the spot, I try to use as many things in my fridge that really need to be used up before they go bad.

So, tonight I looked in my fridge and picked out bell peppers, portobello mushrooms, onion, tortillas, tofu, and cheese. I decided to make some quesadillas. And they actually turned out pretty dang good.

Mushroom & Tofu Quesadillas (serves 2-4, depending how hungry you are)
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 oz firm or extra-firm tofu, crumbled* (a regular size container is 14-16 oz.)
1/2 medium-large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
Freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste
1/8 – 1/4 tsp. chili powder, depending how spicy you want it
1-2 Tbsp. oil (olive oil, grapeseed, canola.. whatever you got)
4 flour tortillas
vegan cheese or real, shredded for topping (we used real pepperjack)

*A note about the tofu: we sometimes freeze our tofu and then defrost it in the fridge. Freezing it gives it a more crumbly, substantial texture, and also makes it a lot easier to press (pressing tofu means pressing out the excess water). If you’ve never cooked with tofu and don’t know how to press it, check out this handy how-to. The video says to use a book, but you can really use anything a little bit heavy that will sit on the top plate. Also, I’ve never waited 40 minutes for my tofu to press. I’m too impatient. I probably wait 5 minutes tops. If you’re in a pinch and don’t feel like using the plate method, you can use paper towels or any clean cotton towel – just wrap the tofu up and squeeze to push the water out. If you have frozen and defrosted your tofu beforehand, the water is much easier to get out.

Pour 1 Tbsp. oil into large sauté pan. Heat oil over medium-high heat and add onion, pepper, and tofu. Sauté until veggies are soft. Add mushrooms and garlic. You can add another Tbsp. oil if needed. Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder. Cook until mushrooms are soft.

Meanwhile, lightly spray or brush each side of your tortillas with oil, and heat in a separate sauté pan over medium heat. Warm each side of the tortilla for about a minute.

On each tortilla, spoon some tofu mixture onto half of the tortilla. Sprinkle with cheese and fold the other half of the tortilla over.

Put the tortillas on a pan and pop in the oven at 300 °F for a few minutes, until cheese is melted.

Cut into triangles and serve!