I have developed five or six signature soups for the meal program at work. While I serve soup every day with the noon meal, the familiar flavor of these soups add a level of comfort to the clients, many of which are dealing with a lot of issues in their recovery.
Even when I throw of quick soup of leftovers together, the connoisseurs in the house quickly return accolades to the kitchen. The comfort of a hot bowl of soup adds a level of security to many residents.
"I've always enjoyed your soup," volunteered a resident just after the Thanksgiving Day holiday. "I get up about 5 o'clock and go out back with a cup of coffee and your soup -- those are my two joys!"
Every so often I hit the Mother Lode with the noontime soup. Two weeks ago I morphed the menued pepper pot soup into a spicy potato and roasted red pepper soup. Thickened with corn tortillas and finished with tempered sour cream, the infusion of mild roasted red peppers and hot jalapeno chilies gave the soup a unique character.
After lunch, several residents noted that the soup was the "best ever." I now plan to menu the soup every two weeks. Next to house classics, like split pea and clam chowder, this slightly spicy version of classic pepper pot soup will please residents.
"I love having soup before I go to school," said a resident as she left the house on a rainy winter day. "It keeps me warm."
POTATO AND ROASTED RED PEPPER TORTILLA SOUP
4 ounces butter
1 pound diced onion
8 ounces diced carrot
8 ounces diced celery
2 jalapeno peppers, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2-1/2 quarts chicken stock
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 bay leaves
2 pounds potatoes, diced
12 ounces roasted red peppers
9 corn tortillas, cut into strips
2 cups sour cream
Saute onion, carrot, celery and jalapeno in butter until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic in the last two minutes, being careful not to scorch it.
Combine stock, herbs, potatoes, red peppers and sauteed vegetables. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes to develop flavor. Add corn tortillas to broth and cook for additional 5 minutes. The tortillas should completely dissolve in the soup.
Temper sour cream by slowly whisking about 2 cups of hot soup into the sour cream. Pour sour cream mixture into soup and stir to combine. Check seasoning.
Yield 1 gallon. Serves 20 (6-ounce) or 15 (8-ounce portions).