Here is part two of my culinary journey through Arizona.
The Cuisine of the Southwest of the United States – which includes New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and California – comprises a fusion of Spanish, Mexican and Native American recipes. However, there are great differences throughout the Soutwestern States. Arizona’s style of the Southwestern Cuisine is often called Sonoran, after the Sonoran Desert that covers large parts of Arizona.
Arizona’s nature is truly impressive. Nothing like I had ever seen before: bizzarely rugged , full of drama and surprises and mostly completely untouched. In each direction the view stretches for kilometers. Particularly beautiful are the sunsets that unfold an incredible play of colors on the rock faces.
The whole landscape has something pristine and archaic. Had Franzisco Vázquez de Coronado appeared on the horizon, with his European soldiers and Aztec allies, it would have been no surprise to us. Franzisco Vázquez de Coronado was a Spanish Conquistador who led a large expedition through large parts of the Southwestern United States between 1540 and 1542. He hoped to find the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. Instead he was the first European to discover the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River and other landmarks.
For centuries, meat, corn, squash and beans were the staple foods of Native Americans. In Arizona’s modern kitchen they are combined mostly with tomatoes, sweet peppers, chiles and avocados brought by the conquistadores.
Sopa de Tortilla is a good example of how ingredients from the Old and the New World melted together. The tortilla chips are used here as croutons. This custom most likely descents from the European practice of adding crisped bread to soup. Enjoy!
Tortilla Soup (Sopa de Tortilla)
- olive oil
- 1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsly chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled and coarsly chopped
- 2 green peppers, freed from the seeds and coarsely chopped
- 2 yellow peppers, freed from the seeds and coarsely chopped
- 2 large tomatoes, coarsly chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes
- 1 can (400 g) crushed tomatoes
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 lime
- 1 fresh green chili pepper, cleaned of seeds and cut into thin rings
- 2 large handful tortilla chips
- In a large pot heat up a good dose of olive oil on a low to medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and peppers. Steam for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently so that nothing attaches to the bottom of the pot.
- Add fresh tomatoes, bay leaves, crumbled stock cubes and canned tomatoes. Refill the empty can with water twice and pour into the pot. Bring it to boil and allow to simmer on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 356 degree Fahrenheit. Peel the avocado, halve and remove the stone. Cut into small cubes and put on a plate. Finely grate the lime peel and squeeze the lime juice over the avocado cubes.
- Arrange the tortilla chips on a baking tray and for a few minutes heat them up in the oven. In the meantime season the soup with salt and pepper. Stirr one more time.
- Pour soup into bowls, garnish with avocado, chili rings (2 – 3 rings, depending on how spicy you like it) and tortilla chips. Serve immediately.