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This simple Tortilla Soup recipe has made the rounds in my life.

I first enjoyed the soup ten years ago, when my husband prepared it after snagging a copy of the recipe from a lovely church lady in Lake Jackson, Texas.  Betty was then Council on Ministries chair of our church.  And like any good Methodist, Betty found it easier to get people to a church meeting when she offered to feed them.  Lucky for me, she served this Tortilla Soup that’s been part of my life ever since.

When we moved to Oklahoma three plus years ago, we were asked to open our historic home to the public in Mesta Park’s annual Holiday Home Tour.  Like  a fool with stars in her eye, I said yes with nary a thought.  Because I love it when guests descend, especially when the house is all decorated for Christmas.  But I was a fool to get ahead of myself, because that first Christmas back in Oklahoma, our house was still in a state of transition — it was half-former owner’s style and half mine — and in those months leading up to the tour, I sort of wished I’d waited another year until the house was more put together.

Moving is so unsettling.  Furniture and furnishngs acquired for a previous home don’t always fit the new place.  And even when they do, it may take a while to figure out what goes where.  And then what color to paint the walls, especially the dining room walls.  Yet, I’m still hanging pictures and moving furniture around and fine-tuning the wall color in the dining room — which so far, I’ve changed three times.

So maybe we were on the tour, exactly when we needed to be.  Especially, when I recall how Mom and my sister Christi came up to dress my home for the holidays.


Because one short year later, Mom was no longer with us.   And even though the house was less put together, I’ll be forever glad that Mom was here to be a part of it, since she really loved decorating the house.  Even now, I cherish the memory of watching Mom slowly and painstakingly shaping the holiday greenery to artfully cover the staircase railing.

Anyway, this home tour story has a point that leads back to the soup recipe.  I thought it would be fun to offer a gift of one of our favorite recipes to those touring our home.  So I laid out professionally printed copies of the Tortilla Soup recipe under a Christmas-tree shaped Rosemary sitting on top of our kitchen counter.  The only problem was that in the printing process, one ingredient was inadvertently removed.  So there are 500 plus copies of an incomplete soup recipe floating somewhere around Oklahoma City.


I should have brought a few leftover recipe cards with me last night to church, when I became the church lady serving this soup to a small group of prayer companions.  Because like the church goers of Betty’s meeting ten years ago, I was asked to share my soup recipe.  And I will, though I can’t claim the recipe as mine.  And it really wasn’t Betty’s either.  Appropriately, Betty got the recipe from Julie, a local Lake Jackson doctor’s wife, who in her spare time, puts on a great imitation of Saturday Night Live’s church lady.  But this recipe isn’t just for church ladies.  Try it yourself.  Here’s a copy with all the ingredients included.  From my life to yours.

Tortilla Soup

A simple and quick holiday supper – serves 6 to 8

1 lb sausage or ground beef, browned and crumbled
1/2 cup each, chopped onion & green pepper, sauted in 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 can beans – pinto or black beans (rinsed) or ranch style
2 envelopes of taco seasoning
1 4 0z. can of chopped green chilies (optional for a milder soup)
4 cans chicken broth (or home-made) – About 8 cups or 60 ounces
1 can Rotel
1 to 2 cups of frozen corn
1 14 oz can petite chopped tomatoes (optional — for a less spicy or salty soup (which accompanies use of sausage)
1 package tortilla chips  (Reserve for serving bowls)
8 oz package of cheddar or Monterey jack cheese, grated  (Reserve for serving bowls)

Preparation: Add all ingredients, except tortilla chips and cheese, to a large pot.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Taste.  If too salty or spicy, add a 14 oz can on petite diced tomatoes.

To Serve: Ladle soup over tortilla chips, covered with grated cheese.