Tortilla Soup-Pressure Cooked and Unpressured

totillasoup (2)

tortilla soup photo by vsimon

This is one of our most requested menu items, year round.

The ingredients and the process have evolved over the years. It took me a long time to try it in the pressure cooker. Now I wouldn’t go back to a stockpot. But look below for directions if you haven’t added a pressure cooker to your family yet.

Chicken-What Kind to Use

I used to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I’d dice the raw meat and throw it in the pot. Now I prefer bone-in chicken breasts.

They are cheaper, more flavorful, and there is less touching of raw meat. I simply remove the skin and discard it, then plop the breasts in the pressure cooker with the veggies and water.

The meat is easy to shred from the bone after it is cooked. Other bone-in chicken parts work well too, use your favorite.

Tomatoes-What Kind to Use

This is a recipe post, not a food issue post. But I say, go for BPA free tomatoes if possible. The Environmental Working Group is a great reference for info on food issues, from pesticides to BPA. Use the search box to bring up a long list of BPA articles. 

I used to use convenient canned fire roasted tomatoes. But the high levels of BPA in commercially canned tomatoes scares me. Kick the can out the door.

There are enough endocrine disrupters in the world already, thank you very much. Surely, kids and pregnant women should not eat BPA laced foods.

So for a quick, rich, smooth tomato flavor, I have switched to marinara in glass jars. There is probably BPA on the jar lid. I reason, it is less than in a whole can, but I don’t know that to be true.

Diced tomatoes work well, especially if you like tomato chunks. You can use fresh ones, or use frozen from your garden if you have put them up.

Home canned tomato juice stored in glass is also fine. Plastic bottles scare me too, they can leach BPA.

Flavor, Lots of Flavor, from Herbs and Spices

No need for expensive broth here. Use flavorful cumin and garlic. Many lemon pepper and chili powder blends are gluten-free.

This is a great place to practice using tablespoons, rather than 1/4 teaspoon of spice for great flavor. Don’t be shy.

Pickled jalapenos are fun to stock in the fridge. You can heat up the whole pot of soup, or let everyone warm their own bowl to their liking.

Easy Pressure Cooked Tortilla Soup

Serves 6 generously as an entree

1 ¼ lbs boneless, bone-in chicken breast or thighs

3 cups total of chopped onion, celery, and green pepper

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup corn

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 cups (or more) diced tomatoes, tomato juice, or marinara sauce

cups of water, to thin soup to desired soupiness

pickled jalapenos to taste, diced

Garnish

1 cup shredded cheese

gluten-free corn tortilla chips

sour cream

1 avocado, diced

Remove skin from chicken, but leave the meat on the bone. Place in pressure cooker with onion, celery, peppers, carrots and corn. Add about 1 cup water and lock the lid on the pressure cooker.

Bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the cooker from the burner and allow it to cool naturally. Or bring the cooker to the sink and run cold water over it to reduce the pressure quickly. It just depends how quickly you want to eat.

Remove chicken from cooker. Remove meat from the bone and shred the meat. Dice it a bit if you like smaller pieces of meat. Add the meat back to the soup and discard the bones.

Add spices- lemon pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.

Add tomatoes and pickled jalapenos to taste. Cook for a few more minutes.

Serve with garnishes. Crush the tortilla chips into the soup if you like.

No pressure cooker?

Easy, but not as quick.

Simply put all the soup ingredients in a stock post and cook until chicken is falling off the bone. Remove chicken from the soup and shred the meat as directed above. Discard the bones.

Pour soup into serving bowls and garnish as above.

Enjoy!

Make Lots, Serve Now and Later.

This soup freezes well. Simply cool and store in 3-4 cup glass containers with tight fitting lids. I like to bring the soup to refrigerator temp before storing in the freezer. This helps the soup freeze faster and reduces freezer burn.

Make sure you have fresh garnishes when you want to serve the soup later. 🙂 They don’t freeze so well.

What is your favorite garnish?

Hungarian Beef Stew

Hungarian beef stew with caraway

Hungarian beef stew with caraway seeds photo by vsimon

No, the caraway seeds are not negotiable.

This started as a recipe called Hungarian Goulash from Cooking Light. To me it is really more stew than goulash.

“Goulash” to Wisconsinites is a mishmash of ground beef, tomatoes (maybe canned tomato soup), and macaroni. Seasoning is limited to salt and pepper, possibly an onion. It showed up at every potluck supper, and was never very appealing to me.

This version is far superior. Big chunks of tender beef and potatoes, bathed in lively sauce. Yes there is caraway, and the very Hungarian paprika, finished with fresh lemon juice and zest. Your mouth will thank you!

It didn’t take much to make this original recipe gluten free. I simply used sweet rice flour in place of wheat flour to thicken the gravy.

Deceptively useful information

It is so useful, I want to repeat that ingredient information from above. Get yourself some sweet rice flour and swap it out in every recipe that thickens a sauce with wheat flour.

We use it all the time, for all clients. Even ones that do not need to be gluten free. It works better than wheat flour. And freezes (and thaws) better than cornstarch. No lumps, clumps, or weeping. Simply make a slurry with water or other liquid in the recipe and stir it in.

Sweet rice flour is sometimes called glutinous flour, because it is sticky when cooked. This is an unfortunate name, and it is gluten free.

I can get it in my regular grocery store in the ethnic aisle. Be sure to read the label though. I have grabbed plain white rice flour by mistake. It does not thicken like sweet rice flour.

And the brand in my grocery store comes in a plastic bag. Touching it gives me the same response as nails on a chalkboard. Watch, I’ll shutter. It is so dry, and some how sounds a bit crunchy in the bag.

I buy this in a pinch. But when I can plan ahead, I buy Mochiko brand sweet rice flour in a box. At a big ethic grocery three towns over. It doesn’t make me cringe when I grab the package. I buy 5 or 6 boxes at a time.

Now back to the recipe at hand.

Hungarian Beef Stew

adapted from Cooking Light’s Hungarian Beef Goulash

   
serves 6-8 metric measures
1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast,
trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
700 gm
4 cups chopped onion 500 gm
1 pound red potato, cut into large pieces 450 gm
1 1/2 cups cooked down crushed tomatoes 435 gm
2 tablespoons paprika 20 gm
1 tablespoon vinegar 15 ml
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 2 gm
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, more for garnish 2 gm
1/4 cup sweet rice flour flour 40 gm
Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon 1 medium

Brown beef cubes. Put beef and onions in pressure cooker. (See unpressured directions below).

Add 1 cup of water. Lock on lid, bring to pressure, and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile put potatoes in a medium saucepan covered with water. Cover pan and cook until tender about 20 minutes. Do not drain.

Allow pressure cooker to cool, slowly or quickly. Remove lid when pressure drops. Beef cubes will be melt in your mouth tender.

Add the tomatoes, paprika, vinegar, garlic powder, and caraway seeds to the pressure cooker.

Mix sweet rice flour with about 1/4 cup water. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add sweet rice flour slurry to the liquid in the pressure cooker. Cook until the sauce thickens, just a few minutes. Stir while doing this.

Add cooked potatoes and some potato water if the sauce is thicker than you like.

Zest the lemon and reserve.

Add the juice of the lemon to the stew. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  

Garnish with a fragrant whiff of whole caraway seeds and fresh lemon zest.

Haven’t made friends with a pressure cooker yet?

No problem

Brown meat, add onions, and 1-2 cups water to a stock pot. Simmer for about an hour. Add raw potatoes and cook another 1/2 hour. Finish as above, adding more water if needed.

Make ahead?

Sure! This freezes well, make a big batch. Put into small containers with lids (1-2 servings each). Cool completely in the fridge.

Label and date every container, I know you will.

Freeze.

Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Warm in the microwave for just a few minutes per serving.

Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free

Hungry for other international stew recipes? Check out this month’s Go Ahead Honey, it’s Gluten Free recipe roundup. Laura at Mouthgasmic hosts, thanks Laura!

What is your favorite winter stew?