Friday, September 9, 2011
I chipped a tooth at work this week. Big time. I looked like a hillbilly when I opened my mouth. I bumped into a cart I was pushing when it bumped into the sink in the meat kitchen. My right front tooth just crumbled in my mouth, painlessly but dramatically nonetheless. In the basement bathroom, I cried, sobbed actually, and for three straight hours, any extended thought spent on my tooth and my now inability to ever get a date ever again led to more and more tears. It wasn't until lunch that I pulled it together and not until 2 p.m. that I got official word that workman's comp was going to cover it. One of my co-workers hugged me and said "Don't worry baby, you still sexy." Something I needed to hear, though I'm not sure I really believe I'm sexy at all (I'll take the compliment).
I got my tooth filled the next morning and things are fine, though no dates to speak of--I will forever blame the tooth. I've been babying my mouth ever since. Avoiding apples and carrots, even gingerly biting into crackers with my left front tooth instead of the right. Soup seemed about right for the occasion. So I dusted off my Dutch oven for the first time in months and made a tortilla soup.
I don't just search for any recipes online. There are a lot of bunk tips on the interwebs. Mark Bittman plus anything food is a worthy search, and this time proved to be no error. I didn't even have all the ingredients--avocado would have been a plus, but my fresh chili pepper (straight from the garden) worked just fine. The garden is wilting a little, so I plucked all the ripe black cherry tomatoes I could and plopped them in with an onion and some garlic. I added about a tablespoon of chili powder plus my very spicy pepper (serrano? habanero? not sure). The soup, once blended with roasted chicken added, was comforting in a way only soup can be with a little fire to finish.
Tortilla Soup: inspired by Mark Bittman
6 flour tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large onion, small dice
3 garlic cloves, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
6 cups chicken stock
6 ounces shredded chicken
juice from one lime (or lemon)
avocado and Mexican cheese to garnish
Heat up the oil and then fry the tortillas. Remove from pan. I tried this but my tortillas were about one year old and started to smell sour and break apart in the pot so I tossed them. Chips will work fine. With the remaining oil, saute the onion for a couple minutes then the garlic, which cooks faster and should be added second. Once the aromatics have softened, add the tomatoes, the pepper and the chili powder. Saute for five minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Puree the soup. Put back in the pot and add the chicken. Simmer for five minutes until chicken is warm. Add juice and serve garnished with avocado and/or cheese.