My house almost burned down yesterday. Discuss. Okay, maybe burned down is a stretch, but part of it was definitely on fire. My middle son, Christopher’s birthday is 4 days before Christmas. We usually try to celebrate it earlier in the month so it doesn’t feel blurred with the holidays, but last weekend was the best we could do this year. Of course this meant a family get-together was in order, and it started out great. Awesome food, delicious wine, a gorgeous cake (wait for Wednesday’s post), laughter and other clichés.
Then it happened.
One of my siblings, whom I love very much and shall remain nameless (although his initials are My Brother Matt), decided to warm up some nachos in the oven. (You know how little kids just want to snack at parties and sometimes won’t touch the “grown-up” food.) Instead of baking them, however, he decided to broil them at my mom’s encouragement. This might’ve worked, but for the fact he forgot to check on them and the entire baking sheet caught fire. I was the one who discovered the mistake – more accurately, I’m the one who smelled the mistake… from the garage, between walls and closed doors.
My mom suggested we throw salt on the fire, to which the fire said, “mmm, salt.” My brother-in-law suggested covering the baking sheet with another, less fiery one, only it didn’t fit. Then Russell had an epiphany: I own a fire extinguisher! After finding it beneath the kitchen sink, he removed the red safety pin and handed it to me. I looked at him a bit puzzled for a few tense seconds as I’ve never extinguished anything in my life. But my inner heroine prevailed and several poofs! later I had saved the day.
Now, I wanted to give you a recipe from the party, and while I could serve you this and be perfectly compliant with my self-touted white trashiness, I voted for the dish that was the big hit (and not just to my renter’s insurance). The appropriately named:
Smokey Tortilla Soup
Serves a crowd (8-12 depending on appetite)
Whole roast chicken (I got mine at Costco)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, chopped
2 Mexican grey squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped
2 cans roasted tomatoes, undrained
2 cups frozen corn (I prefer the roasted corn from Trader Joe’s)
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1 box chicken stock
2 cups water
Shred chicken, removing skin. Heat olive oil in soup pot. Saute garlic and onions until onions are cooked. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked.
Serve with optional garnishes:
Crumbled cotija cheese or shredded cheese
Sour cream or Crema Mexicana
Broken tortilla chips
This is a simple, versatile dish, so thick it could be called Smokey Tortilla Stew. It’s just the kind of comfort food yesterday needed – too bad it came before the fireworks. I love my family, I truly do.