By Carolyn Doyle
Thanksgiving will be here soon, and that means turkey. Even if you don’t like to cook, you can still make something better than sandwiches with those packages of leftover turkey you’ll bring home this year.
Like one of my no-chop soups. If you can open a can and heat up the contents, you can make this flavor-packed, satisfying turkey tortilla soup. There’s no chopping required, and the taste is way beyond anything that could be crammed into a single can.
This is my favorite way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey…the rest of the year, leftover cooked chicken (from a rotisserie bird, perhaps?) does just fine. A bag of frozen corn, another of chopped onions; a jar of minced garlic, another of salsa; and a couple of canned goods combine to create something special in this recipe. It’s also a great way to feed four people for practically no money (in case you go overboard on Black Friday).
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Easy Tortilla Soup
Makes about 4 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onion (frozen or fresh)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar, or fresh)
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ to 1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup salsa (store-bought or homemade)
15-ounce can chopped tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
32 ounces chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup frozen corn
8 ounces cooked black beans, rinsed and drained (about half a can)
3 tablespoons cornmeal (optional)
8 ounces cooked chicken or turkey, pulled into shreds
Garnishes (see below)
Heat oil in a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat; add the onion (be careful, frozen onions may splatter a bit). Stir, reducing heat to medium if necessary, for 2 to 3 minutes, until onion is translucent.
With heat on medium, stir in garlic, cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the salsa and the tomatoes, with their liquid. Add half the stock and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil and stir in the frozen corn.
Taste and add some or all of the remaining stock (depending on how thick or spicy you like your soup). When soup returns to a boil, reduce to a medium simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the beans.
(Optional: At this point, if you would like your soup a little thicker, you can sprinkle up to 3 tablespoons of the cornmeal over the simmering soup and stir it in well.)
Simmer soup another five minutes and taste; adjust seasonings and add stock as needed.
Stir the chicken or turkey into the soup and simmer another 5 minutes, until meat is heated through. (Or heat the meat separately and add to each bowl of soup.)
Garnishing the soup
This soup can be served as it is, but the following garnishes are optional (and delicious).
Tortillas: It’s technically possible to serve tortilla soup without tortillas…but it’s kind of weird. To make your soup match its name, crumble some corn tortilla chips on top before serving for crunch. Or, if you have some corn or flour tortillas hanging around (we all have our problems), you can tear them into pieces or cut them into strips and add to the soup a few minutes before serving, to soften. (A good way to use up stale tortillas.)
Cheese: Topping your soup with some shredded cheese, such as Monterey or Pepper Jack, mild or sharp cheddar, or a Mexican cheese, is a sure way to send the tastiness quotient through the roof.
Rice: If you have some leftover cooked rice (like from Chinese takeout?), add about half a cup to the soup just a couple of minutes before serving. (Have some frozen rice? Stir it in when you add the black beans.)
Other stuff: Sour cream, sliced black olives, green onion, fresh cilantro, even avocado chunks can top off your soup.
A word about heat: You can kick up the sizzle in your soup with any of the following:
- A pinch of chipotle powder, or a teaspoon of sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo.
- Part or all of a four-oz. can of chopped green chilis (or jalapenos).
- Diced tomatoes with chilis (substitute for the fire-roasted tomatoes in the recipe.)