Vegan | WFPB | Easy | Gluten-Free | Oil-Free
The Baked Tortilla Chips
I love tortilla chips. Nothing better than really good chips & salsa. With guac, yes. I don't really buy potato chips anymore, but I don't think our family can go a week without tortilla chips. For some reason, though (maybe because there aren't many ingredients on the label and they're organic), it hasn't really been on my radar that these packaged delicious crispy snacks are deep fried. Deep fried and then sometimes even sprayed with more oil so toppings stick better. Like in the Science Channel video I watched on how they're made. Fun to watch the process from raw corn to crunchy chips. Yet it made me realize how often we are still eating deep-fried food. When we eat out, fine. But daily at home? Well..
While I bake french fries at home because I'd like to avoid the "traditional" deep-fried, I haven't hesitated on chowing down on tortilla chips very frequently with the rest of the household. Um. Hmm. Not really my intention. I haven't seen baked tortilla chips in my local grocery store for awhile, and when I do find them on a shelf somewhere, they are very bland. Maybe that's why they're now rare out there. So I tried baking my own homemade tortilla chips. I took tortillas out of their packaging, cut them up, and baked them and found them...hard to chew. Too crunchy. My teeth were unhappy about the whole situation. I worked on several batches over several days, tweaking this and that. I eventually ended up painting the tortillas with a little avocado oil - these were better...ish. Still not easy on the teeth. I get that tortilla chips in general aren't exactly gentle, especially for those of us with sensitive teeth, but this was too much. Then I thought about that Science Channel video. A lot of water was involved in the beginning of the process, and it mentioned that the puffy air pockets tortilla chips often have are caused by trapped moisture. What about soaking the tortillas first? The result: maybe a little less over-crunchy than the oil-painted chips, and without any oil. Plus, a few of those air pockets did show up. A step in the right direction. Compared to deep-fried tortilla chips, they are still a little more crunchy - do use caution if you have sensitive teeth. Some testers felt they were fine to munch on their own, but I don't yet. I feel like I'm on a quest now, though, and I'm wanting to go further with the testing - when I figure out a way to make home-baked chips ideal for kicking back with chips & salsa, I will be sure to post a recipe for those chips.
For now, because they allow the chips to soften their crunch, these are the two ways I'd recommend enjoying the baked chips in this recipe:
soaked in tortilla soup, recipe below
smothered in nacho beans, cheese sauce, and toppings.
That is good news, isn't it? I've at least gotten that far. These baked chips can work for making nachos! A good vegan cheese sauce, beans, all your favorite toppings, and voila! An indulgence without any deep fryers involved.
Do you know of a good way to make chips at home that have a lighter crunch (without deep frying)? I'm all ears!
The Tortilla Soup
Even with the chip-making, this tortilla soup comes together easily and is a hit with kids and adults. While I'm not going to avoid putting onion in this soup because one of the kids claims to not like onions, I do puree the vegetables into the soup and he happily eats it. I like how the flavors distribute that way, too. Hold that immersion blender in there awhile and you're golden; it creates a nice textured base. Don't have an immersion blender? If you like making (and eating) soup, I highly recommend one. Here's the one I've had for awhile now and it keeps on ticking: >>>
Another benefit of the immersion blender is that you don't have to meticulously chop everything. Just take a moment to coarsely chop, since it's just going to get pureed. This speeds up the process - bonus!
Vegan | WFPB | Easy | Gluten-Free | Oil-Free
YIELD: 8 servings | 80 chips
TOTAL COOK & PREP TIME: 40 minutes
CHIP COOL TIME: At least 10 minutes
RECIPE CATEGORY: Soup
PRIMARY TOOLS: A large pot and cooktop; immersion blender
COOKING METHOD: Baking and Sauteeing
Note: Kitchen times are approximate and will depend on various factors, like your personal kitchen speed and how many hands you have working with you. Cooking can become a centering experience that brings family together. I hope you enjoy the ride!
Suggested Toppings: Avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, hot sauce, lime, vegan cheese sauce or sour cream
Note: The instructions below overlaps baking the chips and cooking the soup. The chips can be made ahead. I've indicated which instructions are either for soup-making or chip-making. Please read through the recipe before starting to reduce confusion/scrambling. Keep it zen!