Growing up in the southwest, I didn't fully understand spring until I moved to New England. While we definitely have a real winter in New Mexico, replete with snow and single-digit temperatures, you are always confident that the end of winter is near. The cold is reasonable there. It comes just before Christmas, hangs around through January, and starts to lift in February.
My freshman year of college I was so baffled by my roommate who was spending her first spring away from her home in Rhode Island. On the first nice day of spring, I came home to our dorm to find the doors and windows flung open and my roommate dancing around in a state of jubilation.
Whatever it was she was feeling, I wouldn't understand fully until I ended up in Boston. In Boston, the winter sets in around the same time as the winter in New Mexico. The problem is that it doesn't want to leave. Being bundled up on your couch watching the blizzard and freezing temperatures outside is only a cozy and happy situation for a few months at best. But when it is happening for the eleventh time and it's late March? It's not a happy situation. It is desperation. When you're chasing down your bus in late March while slipping on ice? Or, perhaps worse, when you're waiting for the bus, and note how "warm" and "balmy" it feels out, only to check the temperature on your phone and find that the temperature is 34ºF? That is how you know you've been jaded. When you're driving around in late April and see that there are still piles of snow, now blackened by age, in nearly every parking lot? That is the definition of despair.
Those first warm days, where you can finally open your windows, sit on your porch, and hear birds singing? That is the definition of hope. But in March, that warmth is not meant to last just yet, and there is surely a cold front around the corner. Disappointment sets in. The birds are quiet again. Any progress the budding plants outside have made seems jeopardized.
Your hope for winter to end—dashed.
This is a soup for that cold front.
This soup will warm you up, while at the same time reminding you that better times are coming. Slightly spicy with the addition of green chile and freshened up with a lot of lime and cilantro, tortilla soup will get you through the cold snap safe and sound, and off on your way to brighter, clearer skies with not a chance of snow!
Time: 45 minutes
For the Tortilla Soup
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
4 tablespoon red chile powder
1 cup white wine
3 15-ounce cans of pinto beans, rinsed and drained (or you can substitute 1 pound diced seitan or 1 package Beyond Meat, I've tried them all and they're all good!)
1 cup roasted green chile, peeled and chopped (if using canned, this is done for you)
1 28-ounce can can roasted, chopped tomatoes
3 cups frozen corn
5 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chopped cilantro
1/2 cup lime juice
2 avocados, chopped
1 recipe sour "cream" (below)
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers, and saute until the onions are translucent and the peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and let cook for about 30 seconds. Add the wine, beans, green chile, tomatoes, corn, and veggie broth, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the soup simmers, you can prepare the sour cream (recipe below).
After 30 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Ladle into bowls and top each serving with avocado, sour cream, and chips.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours and drained
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Combine the cashews, water, lime juice, and vinegar in a blender. Blend until smooth.