It’s that time of year again when we decide to reform ourselves– lose weight, show more love for family and friends, write “thank you” notes, finish taxes early, etc. Fill to this blog twice a week!

I’m pleased to say that I did keep one of my resolutions from the Uh Ohs by 2009 by losing 18 pounds and lowering my cholesterol by 28 points. I lost it off through stringent commitment to 1300 to 1600 calories a day and exercise six days a week. I slacked off after Thanksgiving and so still have 30 pounds to go, but I’m back on track and slowly, slowly the pounds will come off.

The older you get the more you realize that health is one of the best blessings. You may lose your job, but if you’ve got your health, you are alive and can remake your life through downsizing, another job, relocation. Anything. But all the money in the world won’t buy health. That said, I’m embarking on a healthier new year. That means more soups (great filler uppers), more vegetables, and more water. Here’s a soup that meets those qualifications and that the kids will like as well.

With some variation this is a tortilla soup that I learned from Jay Godwin, the director of photography for the Austin -American Statesman, and “the fellow” of a fellow Japan Society alumnus, Denise Gamino, an award-winning reporter for the Austin American-Statesman. This is a different way to use a store bought roast chicken.

Tortilla Soup

• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 onions, coarsely chopped
• 6 coriander seeds, coarsely broken in a mortar
• 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
• 1 (14 oz) can whole corn
• 1 large red pepper, diced
• 2 tablespoons ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 tsp dried oregano
• 6 cups chicken broth, canned or cubes to taste
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 to 1½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 4-5 cups shredded cooked chicken
• 1 cup shredded Jack cheese, optional
• 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
• 2 limes, cut in wedges, for serving
• 8 corn tortillas, cut in ½ inch strips

In a stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes; cook, stirring for 15 minutes until the vegetables are reduced by half. Pour in the chicken stock, season with coriander, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, oregano, and salt. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the tortilla strips in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake in a 400 F oven for 8 to 10 minutes or till crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cumin and cayenne pepper.

Add corn and diced red peppers to stock mixture and simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes to mix flavors.

Put a pile of shredded chicken in soup bowls, ladle hot soup on top. Top with tortilla strips (and cheese if you’re not watching your calories). Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

More next time.
Melkam Megeb. Bon appetit. Buen provecho. Mànmàn chī! Guten Appetit! Dober tek! Selamat makan! Nush olsun! Svādiṣṭ khānā