Flashback back January 2009 my dear Cousin Julie – also a fiery foodie – emailed the family this recipe for tortilla soup. Like some of my emails I filed the recipe with good intentions but it sadly got lost in my mess of an email “organization” system. Almost 10 years later I was researching old emails we sent each other and knew what I had to do. Share this with you!
As a lover of tortilla soup I posted the soup I’ve been making since the 1990s here at Betty’s Cook Nook. I wasn’t confident my time-tested soup could be unseated as my favorite and well, I was right. However, there was one magical thing about this recipe that I plan to incorporate into my own – specifically adding chicken thighs which definitely provided more flavor than its nearby neighbor, the boneless chicken breast.
❤ To make the soup very rich and hearty, Cousin Julie suggested adding a small can of refried beans and a small can of pinto beans. She noted – don’t use black beans as a substitute for either of these! If the soup turns out too spicy (is this possible?), serve it with sour cream as it will counteract the heat. More lime juice can be added at the table.
❤ Cousin Julie reminded us that she was not a fan of spicy foods and you will see that somewhat reflected in the recipe below. I, on the other hand, look for many opportunities to dial up the heat. The good news is I’ve never had a bad tortilla soup and these recipes can be adjusted in many ways to arrive at your very own favorite bowl.
❤ Looking to spice up your life? We can’t help but love our new custom fit Vertical Spice Racks that help us make the most of kitchen organization… and our cabinet space! Thanks to Joe for finding these!
Total prep: About 90 minutes.
the soup ingredients
1 medium | onion, chopped
1 | bell pepper, chopped
2-3 | cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon | olive oil
1 large box | chicken broth
1 large box | beef broth
1 large | chicken breast
2 (or more) | chicken thighs
1 large can | diced tomatoes (or fresh if you have them)
1 can | Rotel tomatoes and green chilies, diced – use mild flavor
1 can or 1 bag (frozen) | whole kernel corn (I used Trader Joe’s frozen roasted corn)
1 small can | tomato paste (or sauce, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon | ground cumin
1 teaspoon | chili powder
1 teaspoon | oregano
1 teaspoon | salt
2 teaspoons | worcestershire sauce
juice | from 1 large lime
1-2 | jalapeño peppers, sliced (deseeded or not!)
cheddar cheese | fresh grated by hand, if you can
dollop or two | sour cream
avocado | sliced or cubed
fresh cilantro | chopped
green onions | chopped
tortilla chips (or fritos or fritos scoops)
iii. What To Do
1. Let’s Get Cookin’
Sauté the onion, bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil until tender. Add the broths and chicken breast and thighs and cook for 20 minutes over medium heat until the meats are tender. This night marked the debut of our new Calphalon Space Saving 8 quart Nonstick Pot which worked wonders! and left plenty of room for the makin’.
2. Let’s Get Choppin’
Remove the meats from the soup and chop them up. Return to the broth. Add all the remaining soup ingredients and simmer for at least 1 hour, preferably longer if you have the time.
3. Serve It Up
Spoon the soup into bowls and top with your chosen toppings (suggestions above)!
Let me know what you think about this tortilla soup!
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
Our home at 2927 Trailend was decked out in the holiday best every year.
Our family’s signature was a white-light-wrapped Texas mesquite tree in the front yard. Neighbors expected us to don the tree with the shiny lights and so we did. Hundreds of them. Indoors … garland, ribbons and a crackling fire helped trim the season in the best of ways.
Over 40 Christmases later I stumbled upon a recipe folded and tucked deep inside Mom’s cookbook from an old Southern Living Magazine article headlined “Serve Supper After the Trimming,” which made me snicker. Supper? Um, DINNER! I offer my headline option: “Dinner, Decorate and Discotheque!” ;)
I later realized I had unintentionally ignored this hidden recipe for too many months, but this year it piqued my interest when I actually read past the vintage photo on the time-worn page – it contained two different menu ideas that were “quick to prepare and simple to serve.”
In a new era of microwavable meals and drive-thru food on the go, I don’t know if this would still be considered “quick,” but Joe and I found the holiday flight of recipes surprisingly tasty and worthy of a repeat eat. My chosen line-up? This Tomato Bisque recipe followed by Stroganoff Steak Sandwiches, Holiday Cake and Apple Cider – all coming this holiday season here at Betty’s Cook Nook.
However you celebrate the holidays, the deliciousness of food will make it all the greater!
tasting notes ~
♥ If you have old recipes like this one, make sure to take note of the details. A simple search of the photographer’s name “Jerome Drown” landed me to this online article with an interesting story of who he was; a Southern Living photographer, nature lover and conservationist with an awesome mid century modern home in Atlanta.
♥ If you’ve read the original recipe (below) you’ll see we’ve been “gypped” of the Apple Cider recipe. Apparently I could have made a few bucks as a proofreader in a former life. No worries – I’ll find a suitable replacement for the Apple Cider. In the meantime …
2 (10 ¾ ounce) cans | chicken broth
1 ⅓ cups | canned tomatoes
1 cup | celery, chopped
2 teaspoons | onion, chopped
1 cup | carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon | salt, divided into halves
6 tablespoons | falfurrias brand butter, divided
¼ cup | all-purpose flour
2 ⅔ cups | half-and-half, scalded
2 large | tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons | sugar
¼ teaspoon | soda
to taste | paprika
ii. what to do
1. Combine broth, canned tomatoes, celery, onion , carrots and ½ teaspoon salt in a saucepan. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the broth and discard the veggies (sorry, veggies – you served us well)!
2. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan then gradually stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly over low heat for 2 minutes. Gradually add the half-and-half, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring and stirring until thickened. Remove the mixture from heat then stir in the reserved broth from Step 1 (above). Set aside and keep warm.
3. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add the fresh tomato and sauté 2-4 minutes. Stir in the sugar, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and soda. Add to the broth mixture, stirring well. Garnish with paprika and serve!
Yield: About 6-8 servings
Here’s a scan of the original recipe!
I’m not quite sure how to pronounce “timbales” (2 syllables or 3) – it seems to depend on whether or not you are using the French or Spanish pronunciation.
The name derives from “kettledrum” after the drum-like mold in which the dish is baked.
Growing up I was a drummer and we often played drums called “timbales.” We pronounced them like this.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ In a hurry? I think you can substitute canned peas for the frozen and save yourself a step. And a pot to clean.
♥ I must have been a salt block lovin’ cow in a former life. For some reason I couldn’t get enough salt on these so I used more than what was noted below.
♥ White Pepper? Didn’t find it at my grocery. I just used fresh cracked black pepper. Sorry, Mom!
♥ I don’t own any custard cups so I used the 4 ramekins, shown below. As a result I made larger timbales which required a little more time cooking. If you’re not planning on eating this as your only item I’d suggest making 6 and serving as a side.
10 ounces | frozen peas
1 cup | cooked rice
1 cup | chicken broth
½ cup | cream
4 | cage free eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon | parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon | celery salt
¼ teaspoon | onion salt
for the sauce:
1 cup | falfurrias brand butter
¾ cup | celery tops, finely chopped
¼ cup | flour
¼ teaspoon | salt
⅛ teaspoon | celery salt
⅛ teaspoon | white pepper
2 cups | milk
to garnish | more chopped parsley
ii. what to do
0. Heat oven to 325°F.
1. Cook the peas and drain. Combine the peas with the next seven ingredients – the rice, broth, cream, eggs, parsley, celery salt and onion salt.
2. Grease 6 custard cups (or ramekins) and fill each 2/3 full of the pea mixture from step 1 above. Place the custard cups on a shallow roasting pan filled with 1 inch of hot water and place in oven.
3. Bake 45 minutes or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
4. After the timbales have been baking about 25 minutes, let’s make the sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add and sauté the celery. Blend-in the flour, salts, pepper and milk. Simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring often until thickened.
5. Un-mold the pea timbales onto a warm serving platter and top with celery sauce and some chopped parsley.
Yields about 4-6 servings.
Here’s a scan of Mom’s original recipe!
If you missed the Sofia Vergara You Tube link above you have to watch it now. A guaranteed belly buster!
There’s something special about any soup recipe that calls for Velveeta.
Oh, I know, I know – Velveeta is not “real cheese,” but tell that to my stomach. The mere thought of the cheese-like stuff makes me weak in the knees. Toss in Pace picante sauce, avocado and chorizo and you have a dish that’s straight out of the 1970s with culinary crosshairs for your next meal.
Healthiness aside, I thought this soup was a super-tasty and f l e x i b l e soup that can accommodate any of your special ingredients to make it one all your own.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ When using ground chorizo, the finished texture was too grainy for me; on the next go of this I think chorizo links cut into chunks would yield a chunkier texture.
♥ My Cousin Julie said to try “Portuguese Chorizo,” if you can find it.
1 pound | chorizo
1 large | white onion, diced
2 stalks | celery, diced
1 | green pepper, diced
3 cans | chicken broth
2 | tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
to taste | cilantro, chopped
16 ounce jar | pace thick and chunky picante sauce (mild)
½ pound | velveeta
to serve | fresh avocado, diced
to serve | tortilla chips (or fritos)
to garnish | more cilantro, chopped
ii. what to do
1. In a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat, brown the chorizo, onion, celery and green pepper.
2. Add the broth, tomatoes, cilantro and picante sauce and simmer 1 hour, uncovered. Relax in your comfy chair or couch while you catch-up on your latest 1-hour of DVR programming. :)
3. Add Velveeta to the soup and stir here and there, until melted.
4. Serve soup into individual bowls. Top with avocado, chips or fritos … and a tad more cilantro.
Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup
This “BIG SOUP” recipe is insanely flexible! It starts with a base of chicken broth and our familiar friends onion, celery, carrot and herbs. But then the party gets a little crazy – you add whatever fresh, canned or frozen veggies, pasta and or meats that you have loitering around the kitchen, making this soup “soup-er” flexible.
Some of the best cooks never follow a recipe to the “t” and this is surely one of their favorites!
Foodie Tips ~
♥ Note the variations on the original scan –
For more soup: Add additional vegetables and broth.
For two meals: Freeze the leftovers.
For creamed soup: Add ½ to 1 cup cream 5 minutes before serving. Do not boil the cream!
For pureed soup: Put all ingredients (no bones) into a blender and work your magic, until smooth.
♥ If you discover a version you really like, make record of the ratios so you can make it again on the next go.
♥ I was 10 when this recipe appeared in the 1976 edition of Apartment Life Magazine. How alarming it is to see the office phone hanging on the wall in the photo below! PS ~ I also love the bananas T-shirt!
i. base ingredients
2 cans | chicken broth
4 | chicken breasts
1 | large onion, chopped
1 | celery stalk, chopped
1 | carrot, chopped
2 sprigs | parsley
1 teaspoon | thyme (or dill weed)
1 | bay leaf
to “cover” | water
ii. “scavenge” for these accessory ingredients
1 small can | pinto beans, chickpeas and or plum tomatoes
1 medium can | corn
½ package | frozen okra, asparagus, artichokes and or pea pods
2 | potatoes, chopped
1 small | zucchini, chopped
1 | green pepper, chopped
¼ pound | mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup or more | pasta or rice
1 length | seasoned sausage
cubes | leftover meat
1 | kitchen sink (just checking if you’re paying attention!) :)
iii. what to do
1. In a medium/large pot over medium heat, add the first eight ingredients in step “i” above. Add water to cover.
2. While waiting for the soup to simmer, scavenge for your step “ii” ingredients above, whatever form they take.
3. Add fresh veggies and rice after the soup’s been simmering 15 minutes or canned, frozen ingredients and pasta after 20 minutes. Simmer soup for 30 minutes or until everything’s done.
Click To View –> An Original Scan Of The Big Soup Recipe
One of my earliest cooking tips hailed from a floury, flat, flying disc-like object; the tortilla.
Cooked in soup, tortillas were the fast and economical way to plump up chicken and dumpling soup, rather than making dumplings by hand. This cooking tip was shared with mom by our family friend and housekeeper Miss “Essie.”
I don’t remember a day when Essie wasn’t smiling. She was rich with a happiness that money cannot buy and she was a hard-working lady who helped our family for many years. She helped Mom pick-up and organize the house as Mom was more than busy raising three boisterous boys (I was the angel son, of course) and working as an independent contractor; a court reporter.
When the temperatures start to drop, I search for loose clothing, as I know chicken and dumpling season is among us. There’s no better comfort food than the warm, silky, doughy greatness of this belly pleaser.
I’m tucking this recipe here in Mom’s digital cookbook as it’s one of my favorites and certainly a dish I would make for Mom, Dad and you. Over the years, I’ve adapted this recipe and often include rosemary, one of my favorite homegrown herbs.
Let’s Get Cookin’
i. soup ingredients
1-2 pounds | boneless chicken breast, cubed.
2-3 medium | white onions (1 onion will be pierced with cloves, 1-2 onions will be chopped)
splash | olive oil for sautéing (or some chunks of butter, if you’d like)
8 | whole cloves
3-4 medium | carrots, cut into 2-inch chunks
2 sprigs | parsley on stem (or cilantro, if you prefer)
1 teaspoon | salt
2-4 sprigs | rosemary (not chopped, just for flavor)
½ teaspoon | freshly ground black pepper
2 | celery ribs, chopped
4 cups | water (or chicken broth, if you want to pump up the jam)
1 cup | whole milk
ii. dumpling ingredients
1 cups + 3 tablespoons | sifted flour
1 + ½ teaspoons | baking power
dash | salt (and some pepper, if you’d like)
2 tablespoons | shortening, chilled
½ cup | milk for dumplings plus ¼ cup milk for a “slurry”
2 – 4 sprigs (~ 4” each) | chopped rosemary
iii. foodie tips
❤ Add more pepper if you have a cold. Trust me.
❤ You can add more herbs if you like. Bay leaves, cilantro or thyme are all good. You can place the herbs in a cheese cloth and tie-off the ends so you don’t have to “fish” the herbs and stems out of the soup. You can also season the dumplings with some fresh cracked pepper or chopped rosemary or thyme.
❤ Need more fillin’? I’ve tried this by adding a couple of cans of yellow corn and chopped green chilies. My taste buds and tummy “high fived” each other.
❤ If you haven’t already read here on Betty’s Cook Nook, when I say butter, “Falfurrias Butter” is implied. Thank you to my Grandmother, Nanny!
❤ To form the dumplings I prepare them all ahead of time so they cook for a consistent amount of time. To yield about 40 dumplings I use a teaspoon to help cut the dough into similarly-sized dumplings. Hand roll them tight and use flour on your hands if you find the dough becomes sticky.
iv. what to do
1. Make Soup: In a large pot, sauté the chicken with 1 or 2 of the chunk-chopped onions and oil (or butter). Gently place into the pot the onion that’s pierced with cloves then add the carrots, celery, parsley (or cilantro), salt, rosemary, pepper, 1 cup of the milk, and 4 cups water (or chicken broth). Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring occasionally (between glasses of wine, of course). Reduce to low and simmer covered for one hour. Simmering will give you ample time to drink more wine and make the dumplings! [ side comment: Please realize step 1 is really 14 steps rolled into 1 but nobody will make soup that requires a lot of steps.]
2. Make Dough: I usually jumpstart my dumplings 25-30 minutes before the soup is done with its hour-long simmer. Sift 1 cup of the flour, the baking powder and salt (and pepper, if you choose) together in a medium-sized mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid). Cut in chilled shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ½ cup milk all at once, any seasonings (pepper, rosemary or thyme) and mix until dough holds together.
3. Make Dumplings: Form your dumplings per the cooking tip above. When they’re all ready remove the onion pierced with clove, parsley (or cilantro) and rosemary from the soup and discard. With a slotted spoon, remove the chunky items (chicken, carrots, celery) from the soup and place them in a bowl to rest/set aside. It’s OK to leave some of the chopped onion in the pot as it’s hard to fish out! Bring the remaining soup to a simmer and drop the dumplings on top of the liquid. Simmer the soup uncovered for 10 minutes; then cover and simmer 10 more minutes.
4. Make Slurry & Prepare To Dismount: Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons flour into the remaining ¼ cup milk until smooth. You just made “slurry!” Stir the slurry into the soup and bring things to a boil. Stir until thickened. Return the chunky items from the bowl to the soup and simmer for a few minutes. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with chopped parsley (or cilantro or rosemary).
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook
To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, let’s make Cinco de Mayo-nnaise (sorry for the cheesy play on words… it’s what I do).
I did find evidence of some diet foods in mom’s cookbook. This was one of them.
This recipe caught my eye more than once as I flipped through mom’s recipes. So let’s let ‘er roll! Who doesn’t love the taste of avocado?
Let’s Go, Avocado
1 | small 10- to 12-ounce ripe avocado, peeled and seed removed
3 tablespoons | lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon | salt
1 teaspoon | peeled garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon | mayonnaise
2 tablespoons | water or chicken broth
3 or 4 drops | Tabasco brand sauce
1. Cut the avocado into small pieces and place in an electric blender (or immersion blender) with remaining ingredients.
2. Cover and blend until creamy and smooth.
3. Makes 1 cup; ¼ cup of the mayo is 114 calories.
Foodie Tips ~
♥ The sauce may also be made by mashing garlic to a paste with the salt then mashing all ingredients together with a fork. Chunkier.
♥ While the serving suggestions pair the mayo with broiled fish steaks and steamed mixed vegetables, this mayo *has* to be great on a BLT sandwich or chicken sandwich. Diet, “sm-iet!”
To make the BLT Sammy: Toast your favorite bread, top with avocado mayo, tomato, lettuce and your favorite bacon. ♥ ♥ ♥
This recipe is dedicated to my special niece Melissa ~ Her zest for food taught me
the more spice you add to life, the merrier!
~ ♥ ~
If my Mom “Betty” was still alive, I would have made sure she put my own favorite recipe in her cookbook. And better yet, I would have made her some bowls of this great-tasting soup.
I’ve tweaked this recipe over the years, and you can also edit it to please your own personal taste buds. I’ve had several friends say it’s the best tortilla soup they’ve had … plus, it’s easy to make. My secret? Squeezing lime juice on top just after the cheese starts to melt.
As temperatures start to “dip,” what better way to warm-up chilly evenings, than with this all-time favorite tortilla soup recipe? Perfect as an appetizer, or as a main course, one bowl of this soup usually leads to two … or more! Totally a comfort food staple for the Fall Foodie in you.
2 cups | cooked chicken breast (cubed)
1 cup | chopped onion
1 tsp. | olive oil
1 – 4 oz. can | chopped green chilies
1 – 1.25 oz. package | taco seasoning mix ~ the hotter, the better
1 – 16 oz. can | stewed tomatoes
6 cups | chicken broth
1 – 10 oz. package | frozen corn
1/3 cup | fresh chopped cilantro
to taste | tortilla chips, broken into pieces
4 cups | your favorite grated cheese (we prefer pepper jack, monterey jack or cheddar)
1 | avocado
garnish | sour cream
garnish | green onion (scallion)
to taste | fresh ground black pepper
garnish | a squeeze of lime juice
what to do
1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces and place into a medium pot filled with water. Bring to a boil for 5-7 minutes and cook until done. Drain and set aside.
2. In a 5-quart saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion in oil 3 to 4 minutes, until soft.
3. Stir in chilies and the seasoning mix, cook 1 minute.
4. Add tomatoes and juice, breaking them up with a spoon.
5. Stir in broth and bring to a boil.
6. Add corn and chicken, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Top with the cilantro.
8. Spoon into bowls and top with chips, cheese, avocado, and sour cream. Garnish with scallion, black pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
Serves 4-5 hungry folks. The soup refrigerates well; keep the garnish (chips, cheese, avocado, sour cream) as last minute additions.
Founder and “Nostalgic Food Blogger” of Betty’s Cook Nook