I LOVE Mexican food. It has to be one of my favorite cuisines. It’s so fresh and expressive in its flavor. It just reminds me of summer and gives you that carefree “I’m on vacation” feeling, no matter what time of year it is.
Living in LA was a definite plus when it came to fresh and healthy food options. Mexican cuisine is obviously a major culinary heavyweight, due to the vast Mexican population and proximity to Mexico. The food is so simple thanks to the freshness of ingredients and simple cooking techniques, you don’t need to go to a 5 star restaurant to enjoy it (small, dive-joint looking places are the best anyway!) and you don’t need to take cooking lessons to make it at home.
This is my recipe for super easy tacos and delicious creamy tortilla soup. I’ve adapted this recipe from my favorite Mexican hole in the wall in LA called Loteria. Their tacos and tortilla soup are truly incredible.
The ingredients are fairly basic, make sure to get corn tortilla’s instead of wheat (for that authentic flavor). Oh, and no Mexican meal is complete without a refreshing Mexican Beer! 😉
For 2 people
1 smoked, dried chipotle pepper, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 10 min and then chopped (if you can’t find these you can substitute with 1 tbsp of smoked chipotle powder)
1/2 cup each of diced celery, carrots and onion
1 can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1 tsp each of Oregano, Cumin and Epazote (Epazote has a slightly tangy flavor, reminiscent of oregano. It’s used both for flavor and for its ability to reduce the flatulence associated with bean and vegetable dishes. How COOL!)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of low-fat organic yogurt, low-fat organic sour cream or soygurt
1 squeeze of agave or pinch of sugar
1/4 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds
1 corn tortilla, cut up into slices (see photo)
a wedge of lime
Handful of fresh coriander (optional)
In a pan over medium heat add a tbsp of olive oil and the diced carrots, onions and celery. Cook for about 3 min until the onions are translucent.
Add in the garlic and spices, cook for 2 min.
Add can of tomatoes, agave or sugar and s&p.
Chop the chipotle and add it in along with its soaking water. Cook on med-low for about 10 min.
Blend with a hand blender.
Stir in the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.
Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry pan over high heat until they start to pop.
In a small pan heat 1 tbsp of oil and once hot, add in the tortilla strips. Fry for about 1 min until golden brown and crispy, remove to paper towel and soak up access oil right away.
6 corn tortillas
1 tsp of oregano, chipotle powder and cumin powder
1 tsp of coriander or handful of fresh coriander (finely chopped)
½ a lime
2 ripe tomatoes
1 zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick match sticks
1 bell pepper (any color will do), cut lengthwise into thick match sticks
1 clove of garlic, minced
½ a small onion, diced
½ head of small cabbage, shredded
2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ cup of low-fat organic yogurt, sour cream or soygurt
(hot sauce optional)
In a medium size sauté pan over medium heat, place a tortilla. Heat for about 30 seconds on each side. Set aside on a plate, covered until ready to serve to keep warm and soft.
Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan and add in the zucchini and pepper. Cook for 2 min with lid on.
Add the spices (except coriander) and garlic. Continue to cook for about 6 min on med-low heat, covered.
If you have a mandolin (see photo) use this to shred the cabbage finely. Otherwise it can be done by hand. Place in bowl and add the 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and s&p. Toss and set aside.
If you have a food processor, great! Use that to make the salsa. If not you can certainly chop everything finely by hand. Add the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and s&p to the food processor and blend until it has salsa consistency.
Add the coriander to the yogurt, sour cream or soygurt.
READY TO SERVE!!!!
Place the creamy tortilla soup in a bowl and top with a dollop of cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), place crispy tortilla strips on top and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Squeeze the lime wedge over soup and sprinkle with fresh coriander (optional) before eating.
Arrange a warmed corn tortilla on a plate, smooth on some coriander infused cream (yogurt, sour cream or soygurt), then a helping of zucchini and peppers, a scoop of shredded cabbage slaw and finally the salsa. Some hot sauce if you want to give it some extra heat.
No, there wont be any leftovers….. 🙂