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tortilla soup

tortilla soupNot to besmirch the memory of my dear departed mother, but I didn’t really prefer her cooking growing up. Though Mom was considered a wonderful cook by just about everyone she knew, I didn’t see it that way. Even as a kid, “Home Cooking” held little appeal for me, and when I grew up and had the means to eat out, I ate where the real food was: restaurants. I instinctively knew that’s where the pros got their vittles.

In time I fancied myself a connoisseur of soup -all kinds of soup served in all kinds of restaurants. The first time I had ever heard of Tortilla Soup was years ago in a fancy place in Phoenix, Arizona, the name of which escapes me now.  I found that soup so sublime that I called the waiter over and canceled my entree and instead ordered five more bowls of that amazingly creamy soup.

My dining companions thought I was nuts because we were there on a company expense account and could order anything we wanted. But I was happy as clam chowder with six bowls of that incredible soup in front of me. I even bought one more to take back to the hotel for later. I don’t mind saying that particular tortilla soup was the most amazing soup I had ever tasted. After I returned home, whenever I was in a place that had tortilla soup on the menu I ordered it, hoping to find something that tasted close to that stuff in Phoenix. Although I never found any other restaurant soup to compare, I’ve never found a tortilla soup I didn’t like. Tortilla soup has been my hands down favorite ever since that night in Phoenix Arizona when I had my first taste of it. And then one day I rediscovered it: the Holy Grail of tortilla soups.

The first time I placed an order with was four years ago, and what prompted me to do so was that they offered gourmet quality foods, including my precious tortilla soup. Frankly, I didn’t expect a dehydrated soup to be very good, but hey…this was before I had become familiar with the brand.  The best I hoped for was that Efood’s tortilla soup would be passable enough for me to manage to choke down one day if I ever found myself starving to death. Because that’s why I bought it: so I would have a storable version of my favorite soup on hand for my last meal, if it ever came to that.

After the box arrived, I cut open the pouch labeled “Tortilla Soup” and found it filled with a taupe colored powder with some tiny pebble-sized somethings. I had no idea what that stuff was. Those specks were completely unidentifiable to me; little wrinkled pieces of this or that. Following the directions on the package, I added the strange powder to four and a half cups of boiling water. That seemed like a lot of water for what seemed like not a lot of powder. Clearly, however this soup turned out, there was going to be a lot of it. I hoped my wife was hungry, because it looked like it might turn out to be too watery for me.

But as I continued to stir, I noticed the little pebble-like somethings plumping up into actual shapes! I was now beginning to make out beans in the mix -two kinds of beans, in fact: red beans and black beans. And then suddenly corn! Lots and lots of corn!  And pieces of potato, and red peppers and other veggies and lo, what’s this? Several carrot slices the circumference of a quarter! Where did those come from? I swear I hadn’t seen anything like those big round slices of carrot when I poured the mix in.  These ingredients reminded me of those tiny dinosaurs you add to your child’s bathwater that soon grow to humongous size in no time.

I stirred the boiling mixture for a total of 12 minutes, then set it aside as the instructions directed. And then…the miracle: in no time at all the liquid in my pan congealed into a thick, creamy consistency, just like the soup I had taken such a liking to in Phoenix.  I let the soup cool, poured some in a bowl, then added some sprinkle cheese and some tortilla strips I had on hand for salads. It looked just like the picture on the website. Heck, it looked just like that perfect tortilla soup I had filled myself up on that night long ago in Phoenix.

The real test, of course, was whether it tasted anywhere near as good as the Phoenix soup.
Well, I’m here to tell you it was better than the Phoenix soup. Way better.  On the page where you’ll find customer reviews of the EfoodsDirect tortilla soup, a reviewer by the name of Charles gives this tortilla soup five stars (most of the other reviewers gave it five stars, too) and begins his review by saying “My wife and I were stunned at how good this soup is.”

That’s the word I’m looking for: “stunned.” I mean this soup is incredibly, STUNNINGLY delicious.  The only difference between Charles and me is Charles shared his soup with his wife. My wife was in the bedroom while I was cooking it up, and I decided not to tell her about it. Instead I ate it all myself. It was almost five cups of soup, but I was up for it. I’d done it before.

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