Tonight, in addition to Mr. V and myself, we had a guest taste tester. When expecting company, I typically stick with something tried and true so as not to embarrass myself. But in the face of the blog project I am fearless! It was somewhat a last minute invite, and with tonight's meal already planned, our guest knew he would be part of the experiment.
Thanks to preparing extra potatoes for last night's Spicy Chipotle Potato Quesadillas, there was enough left over to serve four of these bits of carb heaven as an appetizer.
Next, on to the main course--Chile-Lime Tortilla Soup (p145).
In preparation for this dish, I made the Basic Simmered Seitan (p305) last night. Seitan made using vital wheat gluten is quick and easy to put together, but it does require about an hour to simmer, so factor that into your timing when planning a meal. This recipe makes approximately two pounds, and since the soup recipe only called for 8oz, I have three more pieces labeled and stored in the freezer. Those will come in handy for busy weeknight meals.
My modifications to the soup recipe were minor. Instead of fresh serrano peppers I used pickled jalapenos; fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead of plain; and I tossed in some frozen spinach at the very end. The instructions state to simmer for 20 minutes after bringing to a boil, and then to adjust flavors according to taste. I took a nibble at the 20 minute mark and thought "eh, maybe this won't be one of my faves." But something magical happened in the next ten minutes. The flavors came together exactly as I had imagined based on the ingredient list. This soup is deep and rich and full of flavor, belying it's brief simmer time. The fresh avocado balances beautifully with the spicy background of the soup. You could certainly enjoy this soup without it, but the cool and creamy avocado lends so much to the overall flavor experience, I highly recommend using it. Topping with baked corn tortilla strips adds a nice element of texture, both when crispy and after blending into the soup.
Mr. V and our guest proclaimed this dish a definite taste victory, and I agree. I also appreciate the fact that once you have seitan on hand, this soup comes together quickly--and deliciously. I would proudly serve again to company, or happily curl up on the sofa with a bowl and settle in for movie night. I might up the heat factor a bit next time, but that's just what I do.
--The Divine Miss V