Let me preface this post by saying that I hate to say that a dish that I have prepared is "restaurant quality," since there are so many awful restaurants that it isn't necessarily a compliment. However, I do think it can be noted that a meal is something that you would pay money for -- which I think this soup fits the bill.
I have been making variations of this soup for a few years now, combining several recipes and adding & deleting until it was just right.
Here is the resulting product:
Vegetable & Bean Tortilla Soup
1 large white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
8 cups canned vegetable broth - I prefer the Better than Boullion No Chicken Base
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 6-inch-diameter corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed, drained
1 zucchini, diced
½ cup of corn kernals (frozen is OK)
1 large jalapeño chili, seeded & minced
Spray large nonstick saucepan (6-8 quart) with vegetable oil spray. Add onion, garlic, poblano pepper, & carrot. Cook over medium-low heat until almost tender, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, cumin and chili powders. Add broth and 4 tablespoons cilantro; bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes.
Add tomatoes, beans, zucchini, corn and jalapeño to soup. Cover; simmer until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot.* Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with Emeril’s Essence (or just use salt & pepper if you prefer).
Ladle soup into bowls. Serve with the tortilla crisps and other toppings of your choice: sliced avocado, green onions, cilantro, lime wedges, cholula, etc.
Serves: 4-6 as a main course.
*NOTE: for a reduced fat option, you can spray the strips with cooking spray and bake the tortilla strips at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes, turning once.