Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Old Man Is Snoring Tortilla Soup

"It's raining, it's pouring,
The old man is snoring
He went to bed,
Covered up his head
And didn't get up till the morning."

Where I learned to sing this childrens' rhyme remains a mystery, though it was most likely my mom who taught it to my sisters and me. In any case, we three girls would stand at the living room window, watching the rain come down in sheets and we'd all chime in, singing about the snoring man who slept through the rain.

As a kid, I always figured the man slept because he was too old to do anything else. My sisters and I had no intention of sleeping through the rain. We loved a good storm, though even a gentle drizzle made us happy. If it was a summer rain, which came often in Minnesota, mom would allow us to put on our swimsuits and go outside and play. If lightning bolts accompanied the storm, we were confined to the house, lest we be struck by electricity and die. I never figured out how something way up in the sky could kill me but the three of us girls  understood that mom believed it so we had to be content to stand at the window and watch. There would be no snoring for us.

As I've mentioned before, rainy days and snowy days were soup days at our house. It was a tradition I carried into my own family and which my children have taken into their families. Somehow inclement weather and home made soup go hand in hand. At least on my family tree. And since I woke up today to gentle rain, hard rain, and intermittent rain, I instantly knew what sort of day it would be.

Not wishing to go to the grocery store but wanting to stay inside, wrapped in my comforter, a cup of hot cocoa at my side, my knitting in hand, and a good movie on television, I scrounged around the refrigerator and pantry to see what might be available for a hearty soup. I was in luck. There was just enough of this and that to fashion a hot, steamy tortilla soup. As it cooked on my simmer burner for at least an hour, the aroma filled the house and according to the mailman, even wafted out to the mailbox.

I suppose it was the spices I used. You know how heavy handed I can be with adding zing to any dish I conceive. Odd for a girl who grew up in the heart of America where food is usually boring. I give my mom credit for teaching me to have shelf upon shelf of spices and herbs in my pantry. And I credit my husband for teaching me to add assorted chili powders to those things that would benefit from a touch of heat. Try this easy knock-off tortilla soup and then tell me what you think. My tummy loved it.


Rehydrate 1 cup of TVP (textured vegetable protein) with 1 cup of hot vegetable broth. Set aside.

Mix 1 small can of tomato paste, at least 6 oz, with 1/2 cup of soy, rice, or almond milk. Set aside.

Into a large soup pot put:

2 Tbs. oil
2 small jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed and then diced
3/4 cup of diced onions
1/2 cup of diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder (use regular chili powder if you have to)
1 cup of fresh or frozen corn
1 Tbs. siracha

Stir together until the onions are translucent.


1 medium sized can of diced tomatoes with juices (about 15 oz)
4 cups of vegetable stock
The tomato paste/milk mixture

Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Allow the soup to cook till it bubbles, then cover and move to a back burner or simmer burner, stirring it occasionally. Allow it to simmer 45 minutes to an hour so the flavors have time to blend. Add the rehydrated TVP during the last ten minutes.

Fill a soup bowl with the tasty goodness
Top with lightly crushed tortilla chips
Sprinkle with minced cilantro leaves

If added toppings are desired, you can use:

Vegan yellow cheese, shredded
Diced green onions
Avocado slices

Dig in. 

Now wasn't that easy?

Serves 4 as a main course; 6 as a side dish.

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