Book club was at my house last week. The book: Sugar in my Bowl by Erica Jong. Book club just happened to land smack dab in the middle of the busiest week of the year for me, the week before the SVDP Christmas Baskets go out.
Thanksgiving Baskets are no cakewalk, don’t get me wrong. But at Christmas, everything is bigger. More dinners needed for more needy families. More phone calls, more spreadsheets…Oh yes, and the presents. Hundreds of presents to be gathered and sorted and tagged and bagged.
I’ve been coordinating this basket project long enough to know that I should probably think twice about scheduling anything else in the week running up to Christmas delivery day. But I love having book club at my house and there’s nothing like an evening of friends and laughter to get one through a stressful time. One book club meeting is nearly as potent as a good night’s sleep in its restorative powers.
Of course, I didn’t have time to cook anything elaborate. So I fell back on one of my simplest but tastiest recipes: Tortilla Soup. This soup can actually be assembled the night before, in about 15 minutes, and then refrigerated until morning, at which time the crockpot is set to low and forgotten about until evening. A quick squeeze of lime juice, a handful of quickly crisped tortilla strips, and dinner is served.
This recipe originally came from my friend Denise, who has a demanding full-time job, four kids, and at least eight million other responsibilities. So she knows fast. And while I don’t normally cook recipes that are all from cans, this one is truly a keeper that belongs in everyone’s crockpot repertoire. I’ve never had anything but sighs of pleasure and requests for the recipe from anyone I’ve served it to. It fairly tingles with bright flavors and pleasing textures. It’s a party recipe.
The Christmas baskets went out today, A record eighty-three familes got Christmas groceries and presents for the kids, and in record time, too–all wrapped up by 10:30 in the morning. And tortilla soup helped get me through the week and across the finish line. Not bad for a recipe mostly from cans.
- 1 diced zucchini
- ½ onion, diced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-12 oz can of chicken
- 1-15 oz can diced tomatoes
- 2-15 oz cans black beans, drained
- 2 cans broth
- 1-15 oz can corn, drained
- 2 cups salsa
- juice from 2 limes
- corn tortillas
- shredded cheese
- 1 avacado, diced
Whiz zucchini, onion, cilantro, and olive oil briefly in food processor or in bottom of crock pot with immersion blender, until somewhere between blended and pureed. Add all remaining ingredients and a bit of water if needed to bring the soup up to 1 inch from top of crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Before serving, add lime juice and stir.
Cut tortillas into approximately ½ inch-wide strips and place under broiler for a few minutes, stirring as necessary, until lightly crisped.
Serve soup topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheese, and diced avocado.