Baby It’s Cold Outside

"Liz come home to me"

Is it just me or is this week crawling by? It could have something to do with the fact that in two days I will be starting the longest vacation I’ve had since I started working. On Friday my company closes for two weeks, my boyfriend will finally be done with law school finals (and can start showering again), and we’re getting on a plane to Chicago and going into Christmas break hibernation. I have been looking forward to this break since August and I CAN NOT WAIT! I hear they have SIX INCHES of snow of the ground in Chicago, and that’s it’s the good snow-man building kind of snow or “packing snow” as my brother and I used to call it. I can’t wait to stay in my pajamas all day, watch movies, play Wii, walk my doggie (isn’t he soo cute?), eat my favorite Chicago foods and of course…COOK…and blog about it.

Some items on my agenda include:

  • Christmas cookies and chocolate truffles
  • Cinnamon rolls and a few other breads (from scratch of course)
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dinner
  • Some recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Its been sitting on my shelf since last Christmas and I haven’t had the time to dive into any of the recipes yet. Julia Child’s cooking time frame isn’t exactly “working girl” friendly.)

But before I can get to Christmas break I have to get through this week. Nothing passes the time like making a good meal. Since it’s FREEZING out, I thought what better way to warm up with than with a delicious soup. I decided on tortilla soup because I was craving really bold flavors, but I didn’t want anything too heavy. This soup fit the bill perfectly. It’s a great winter soup, but honestly I could eat it in any season. I actually had it for the first time in middle of summer, made by my favorite lil Texan, the enormously talented and extremely attractive Mary Elizabeth Donovan (is that a good enough shout out for ya Mary?) Anyway…it’s light and spicy flavors make it so versatile, that it hits the spot no matter what the temperature outside is. It’s also a very  low fat, low calorie soup (if you don’t count the fried tortillas you garnish it with).

I was feeling sort of lazy last night and not very inventive. So I wanted to find a good recipe and follow it exactly. Most of the time I like to research a dish, read a few different recipes, understand the basics, and then invent my own way of making it. But last night I just wanted to let Tyler Florence tell me what to do and be a little recipe monkey. I followed the recipe exactly (well almost exactly I added a little salt at the end) and it was delicious.

What I love about this recipe is all of the garnishes. Without them tortilla soup is basically a combination of vegetables and broth over chicken. But once you add some creamy avacado, fresh cilantro and lime, a bit of jack cheese and of course the crispy tortillas, it transforms this soup from ordinary to south-of-the-border extraordinary! That’s the good thing about following a recipe (from a trusted source), there is very little risk involved. If you follow it correctly, you almost know for certain it’s going to turn out well. Sometimes it’s fun to invent your own way of doing things, but other times it’s nice to sit back and know that someone else has done the leg work and you just get to copy their end result. I find that people fall into two categories, recipe chefs and freestylers. I feel like I’m a combination of both…what are you?

Tortilla Soup Recipe

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