This is soup?

April 7, 2013


Moonlighting: A blog by Judy Cools.

One of my husband’s associates gifted us at Christmastime with a basket of edibles. Most everything has been enjoyed long since, but there remained a package of soup mix that looked awfully good this afternoon. A simmering feast of fresh Tortilla Soup — Mmmmm.

Tortilla Soup is one of my favorites, so I had high hopes. At this point, I must confess that this particular associate of Gary’s lives out of town and is unlikely to see this article. That’s a good thing, because I’m about to tell you our experience this afternoon with this Tortilla Soup.

The recipe wasn’t hard: 7 cups of water, the package of mix, and simmer for 45 minutes. My husband’s constitution being a bit more delicate than my own, I decided to taste-test the soup before I handed him a bowl of it. Seldom have I eaten anything spicier.

Now, understand that as I was growing up, I can’t think of a thing we wasted or threw out casually. If something went wrong, whether in the kitchen or on any other project, we would take on the challenge of how to salvage something out of the experience. This is what I attempted to do with the soup, since it was waaaaaaay too hot for me, and therefore doubly way too hot for Gary.

I took out about half the broth, and replaced it with fresh water. I let it cook a few minutes and tasted it again. I really couldn’t tell much difference – it was still inedible. All right…. there wasn’t much else I could do that wouldn’t result in a small ocean of still really hot Tortilla Soup. I told Gary I was throwing it out. He agreed.

As I watched the bubbling pot settle down once I turned off the heat, I regretted the decision. I mean, there should be something of value here. I re-assessed the situation and realized the soup had plenty of brown rice and vegetables in it. I added another 3 or 4 cups of water, diluting the brew to about 1/3 its original strength. I turned up the heat to allow the rice to cook. When it was done I drained the whole pot, sacrificing the broth to be able to save the rice and veggies.

Time to test it. I got a spoon and small sample of what was now spiced rice rather than soup. It was still too hot to eat!! I like Mexican food, and I’m not a slouch when it comes to enjoying a little culinary heat, but this was not even food. Then I did something I haven’t done in years – I rinsed the rice after it was cooked. Some of that spice had to wash out of the mix and at this point, I was willing to forego any of the vitamins and minerals that might still be hanging around. Another taste test….. my eyes still watered.

It was at this point that I discarded the several cups of original broth that I had taken out of the soup as a first step. Clearly, there wouldn’t be any way to make use of that.

What to do, what to do? Here I am with a generous supply of really zippy rice. I know Gary won’t eat it. I’m not even sure I’ll eat it. Finally my resourceful husband said, “Why don’t you dilute it with plain rice mixed in?” A grand idea! I cut it again by about half by cooking up some plain brown rice. No salt. No butter. No anything except rice. We are now down to less than 1/6 the original heat in this blend. This I can eat. It’s still too hot for Gary, and we have a rather generous supply of the stuff. I suspect it may be lunches for me most of the week. A little chicken, a little sour cream, some tortilla chips – this could work! Some may even find its way to the freezer for another day. I’ve always heard that hot spices fade after a time in the freezer. It may be a good time to test that theory.

© 2013, J. Cools

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