Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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6 servings
Adapted from a NY Times Cooking recipe

Tip: You can certainly purchase corn tortilla chips or strips to top your soup. Or, you can deep fry strips cut from fresh corn tortillas. I recommend saving a few calories…toss the tortilla strips in a light coating of cooking oil; lay them on a baking sheet to toast in the oven. Bake at 400 degrees F for 7-10 minutes. Watch closely to achieve golden crisp strips that don’t burn. Salt if desired. Cool completely on paper towels or a cooling rack.

Ingredients
2 Tbsp cooking oil
1 large yellow onion
1 celery stalk
1 jalapeño
4 cloves garlic
1 medium zucchini
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 chipotles in adobo (canned)
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled fire-roasted tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup canned black beans

Toppings
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 red onion
1 avocado
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
1 fresh lime wedges

Prep
Wash, dry and trim all vegetables.
Dice yellow onion, jalapeño, celery and zucchini.
Mince garlic and chipotles.
Drain and rinse beans well in strainer. Measure 1/2 cup and reserve the rest for another use.
Coarsely chop cilantro.
Mince red onion.
Dice avocado.
Cut lime into 8 wedges.
Put each of the prepared topping ingredients into a separate small bowl.

Directions
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and jalapeño. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to soften; add garlic and zucchini. Add spices, S&P and stir to coat. Cook a minute or two to toast the spices, then add chipotles and tomatoes. Simmer for a few minutes to evaporate the tomato juice and concentrate the flavors. Add vegetable broth, corn, black beans and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Assembly
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with cilantro, red onion, avocado, crema, queso fresco and tortilla strips. Offer lime wedges to squeeze into the soup. Serve with your favorite beer!

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