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Soup’s on!

Summer often means culinary experimentation. We continue to seek the perfect burger seasoning, guacamole and gin and tonic. I actually bought a chicken and made chicken tortilla soup today, just in time for the heat wave. This was a major act of domesticity for me and, fortunately, I am not greatly bothered by the heat.

I did require a signed agreement from the fam-pack, promising they would eat it if I made it, it being summer and all. Armed with that, I got all the meat off the chicken, separated dark from light and even found the perfect, simple seasoning for the soup. That has been an experiment ongoing for far too long, with my gracious family as test subjects. When I cook, I often shoot from the hip. It drove my precise chef of a mother crazy. I did realize, though, that it takes more than tortillas to take it from chicken soup to chicken tortilla soup.

Sadly, I just found the recipe that told me to use taco seasoning. This would have brought my original concoction from OK to really good — but no. I am too lazy to fuss with multiple spices, and may not have even had them on the shelf. I started off using enchilada sauce for flavor, but it was always too spicy for the majority of eaters in my world.

This leads me to wonder out loud why you get a lovely, not-spicy enchilada sauce with your meal at any Mexican restaurant, but I have never found it in a can on the grocery store shelf. More research is clearly required. 

The soup was simmering and smelling lovely when I realized I had failed to get tortillas, cheese or avocados. There was no ignoring these crucial accoutrements; so back to the store I went, feeling thoroughly dotty. “Chips and cheese, chips and cheese,” I recited in my head. I don’t need a bag for that. Zip in, zip out, all done.

Well, anyone, who regularly grocery shops, knows what hubris that thought is. I’m rather wondering when I will admit that I know better and bring in the dang bags, just in case. Chips and cheese, became chips and cheese and milk, butter, chocolate sauce and a can of corn, realizing I had forgotten that ingredient, too. I am grudgingly admitting that my shots from the hip may wildly miss the target these days.

I did stop and give thanks that I live in suburban America where a grocery store is only a minute away and predictably stocked. As I observe the world, I realize that is no small blessing, especially if you are absent-minded. At last, all ingredients and condiments were added and gathered, and I believe it was my best soup yet. This bodes well for the fall and winter, but I will say nothing more about that during the delicious height of summer.

Just to appease the summer gods, I am going to make root beer floats for dessert. You can’t be too careful.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer eating cold chicken salad with her float. Contact her at [email protected].