Monday, September 17, 2012

Mexican Comfort Food... Cheesy Enchilada Soup

Adapted from Paula Deen and

I got off work this morning after a fairly uneventful 24 hour call shift, and to my delight it seemed as if fall had arrived overnight. It was deliciously cool and rainy, and the world was screaming at me to hurry home and get busy making soup and baked goods. The baked goods didn’t get done, but the soup was delicious! Pinned on Pinterest by Sufficiently Graced, it’s a recipe that came from Paula Deen’s magazine. I stayed mostly true to the original recipe this time, only substituting different beans because I wanted to use up what I had on hand, I used frozen corn because I like it better, and I used different cheeses because I was afraid using all pepper-jack would make it too spicy. I was thinking tortillas would be really good with this, but then I remembered how good it was last time I cut up flour tortillas and fried them to make chips. From there my thoughts progressed to tortilla strips and then those ended up being cut up into little pieces to sprinkle on top. It was perfect!

Here's the original recipe:

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (10oz) cans enchilada sauce
1 (16oz) can chili beans, drained
1 (15.5oz) can great northern beans, drained
1 (15.25oz) can corn, drained
1 (14.5oz) fire roasted tomatoes
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese with peppers

This makes a huge pot of soup, so since it's just the two of us, I put away quite a bit in the freezer for later. Next time I will try cutting it in half.

Heat up a little olive oil in your soup pot or large Dutch oven and cook the onion over med-high heat until slightly translucent. Don’t overcook them because they will continue to cook while the soup simmers and you don’t want them mushy. Next, add the ground chuck and cook until brown and crumbly.

I added some water to the pot because I like the ground beef to cook up into a finer crumble rather than have big chunks of hamburger in the soup. The water cooks down and really doesn’t affect the finished soup.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the cheese. I’m so glad I finally broke down and bought an electric can opener! I dumped in the sauces first, and if you look at those cans you'll notice that I have two different brands of enchilada sauce… I wanted to see if there was a big difference between the Old El Paso and La Victoria brands, and there is a little. The OLP brand was milder, and the LV brand was a darker color and had a tasty little kick to it. It also cost about 20 cents more, but it was definitely worth it.

I had to search a bit to find fire roasted tomatoes among all the different brands and combinations of canned tomatoes, but I found them. If you can’t find them it would be fine to use plain diced tomatoes, or if you don’t like chunks of tomatoes, just substitute the same size can of tomato puree. I don’t think in the whole pot of soup it really matters because the flavor of the fire roasted tomatoes isn’t that different.
This reminds me a lot of making chili. The beans went in next, and I never drain them – every bit of that thick liquid goes in my pot. I used dark red kidney beans and pinto beans because that’s what I had. I hate it when I buy something and then come home and find I already had it in the cupboard, so this time I was in the store on the phone making my husband search for beans. He was thrilled.

I had both frozen and canned corn on hand, but I like frozen better so I used a whole 16 oz bag.

Once you get everything in there, let it simmer for about 30 minutes, then stir in the cheese until it all melts. Grate your own, it's required. Not really, but you're probably tired of hearing me harp on this, so just do it.

I wasn’t sure how spicy the pepper-jack would be, so I used a medium cheddar along with the pepper-jack, and grated up the Colby-jack to sprinkle on top. I’ve always been more of a dump cook, so I’m pretty sure there is a lot more than just 2 cups of cheese in this! I was skeptical about dumping all that cheese right in the pot at first, but it all really disintegrates and every bite is wonderfully cheesy but not stringy-gooey like you would expect.

Soup is done, so I turned the heat down to keep it warm and fried up the yummy flour tortilla chips. There is no big trick to this, cut up the tortillas, then just heat some oil in a pan and fry them up on both sides until nice and brown. Pile them up on paper towels to drain and cool a bit. Yum… these are better than any chips you can buy in the store.

I garnished this with a dollop of sour cream, a little cheese and a bit of fresh cilantro. Mmm mm mmmm…..

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