Connie Archer is the author of A Soup Lover's Mystery. Connie grew up in New England, ice skating on neighborhood ponds, clamming on the beach at Cape Cod, and skiing in Vermont. As a girl, she spent several years wading through Caesar’s Gallic War journals and the twelve books of the Aeneid. After majoring in biology in college, she did an about face and earned a degree in English literature. Since then she’s worked at many different jobs — laboratory technician, cocktail waitress, medical secretary, and dinner theatre actress, to name just a few. Connie lives in Los Angeles with her family and a cat named Basil.
* * *
From Connie: A very special thank you to the authors of Mystery Lovers Kitchen for inviting me over today and giving me a chance to talk about my favorite soup. Well . . . I have a lot of favorites, but frankly, there is one that has become an obsession – a holy grail of soup, if you will.
There’s a small lunch place that I go to occasionally, mostly because they have great soups. They rotate their choices on a daily basis, but one soup has become so popular, that it’s now offered every day of the week.
That soup is my favorite and it’s become an obsession because I’ve been trying to re-create it at home for the past few years. Have I come close? Yes. Close. But not exactly the same. Granted, I’ve come up with some soups that are almost the same, but not quite. What is this fabulous soup, you may ask?
Well, it’s called “Chicken Tortilla.” I’ve ordered tortilla soup in other restaurants and discovered there are great differences. And this one wouldn’t be considered an authentic Mexican tortilla soup, at least from what I’ve read, but I’m not overly concerned with authentic.
This holy grail of soups, is a thick tomato-based soup with small bits of chicken, carrot and corn. You’d think it would be easy to whip it up in the kitchen, wouldn’t you? Here’s a picture of it.
I get hungry just looking at it. My lunch place serves it with cheddar cheese on top and a bag of little crunchy tortilla strips. (I try to be good and forego the cheese --- ooops, sorry, Avery!)
Recently, in complete frustration, I broke down and
begged Albert at the counter for the recipe.
He and Arnold know me pretty well by now. In fact, as soon as I walk in, they don’t
even ask for my order. My soup is
waiting for me at the cash register.
Albert shook his head. “No dice.”
“Why?” I asked.
He leaned over the counter. “I’ll tell you a secret. It’s my favorite soup, too.” Sheepishly, he admitted he had asked the cook for the recipe and the cook refused him.
“No!” I exclaimed.
Albert nodded sadly. “I told him I work for the company. I don’t understand why he won’t share the recipe.”
(See . . . I wasn’t crazy. This IS a great soup!)
So – here’s my latest attempt to re-create Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 tbl. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 cups chicken broth or chicken bouillon
1 chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 carrots, chopped very fine
1/2 cup corn (frozen or canned)
1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbl. maple syrup or brown sugar
dash of cayenne pepper
3 tbls. cornstarch dissolved in small amount of water
Saute the garlic and onion in butter, add chicken broth to the pot. Add chicken cubes, cumin, chopped carrots and corn and simmer for 5 minutes or so until the carrots are soft.
Add crushed tomatoes, maple syrup (or brown sugar), cilantro, and dash of cayenne. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Then mix the cornstarch and water together until dissolved and add to the pot, turn up the heat and stir until the broth is thick.
Serve with grated cheddar cheese and tortilla strips.
If you’re inclined to try it yourself, I’d love to hear about it! Enjoy!
Connie Archer is the author of A Spoonful of Murder (http://amzn.to/1jrwKO5), A Broth of Betrayal (http://amzn.to/1kxb83c) and just released, A Roux of Revenge (http://amzn.to/1ek6vRK).
When a band of travelers arrives in the village of Snowflake, Vermont and a dead stranger is found by the side of the road, the past returns with a vengeance. Long kept secrets will be revealed, lost loves will be found and the lives of many in the village will be irrevocably altered.
You can visit Connie at www.conniearchermysteries.com