Since the boy and I were having a full-out Fall weekend at “Deer Camp” last week, I felt the compulsive foodie need to make things that were cabin and cold-weather appropriate. The first morning started off with pumpkin brown butter waffles, but for dinner my mind went directly to soup and bread.
Soup, because it warms me from the inside out and makes me feel cozy. Bread because, well, I’m pretty obsessed with bread in all forms: sliced bread, flatbread, bagels pizza dough, naan, english muffins…you name a bread, and I probably love it. Especially biscuits, which hold a special place in my heart. Buttery, flaky, sky-high biscuits. I went through a phase in high school where I would eat a biscuit every single morning. I’d eat it alongside my cereal, of course, because carbs power you through the day (this is my logic and I’m sticking to it).
For this Deer Camp soul-food occasion, I decided that the soup would be a spicy tortilla variety with black beans and crispy fried tortilla strips. And as you may have guessed, the bread wouldn’t be your average sliced bread (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but buttery biscuits filled with shredded sharp cheddar and black pepper. Both of these things are perfect on their own, but together? They’re a Fall soul-food force to be reckoned with.
Spicy Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Simply Recipes
- 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup baby tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar
- Chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat until. Fry the tortilla strips in 3 batches (you don’t want to overcrowd them). Once a batch turns golden brown, use a slotted spoon to remove the tortilla strips from the oil and lay on a paper towel.
In the same pot where you fried the tortillas, use the leftover oil to cook the green and red onions until they turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until nice and fragrant, then add the jalapeno and allow the spicy chunks to soften a bit, another 2 minutes or so. Pour in the canned tomatoes, baby tomatoes, broth, hot sauce, and black beans. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. When it’s time to eat, top each bowl of soup with shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips.
Cheddar Black Pepper Biscuits
Adapted from Joy the Baker
Makes 12 biscuits
- 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes and refrigerated
- 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
- 2 teaspoons milk and black pepper for topping the biscuits before baking
Preheat the oven to 425.
Grab a mixing bowl and combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the butter pieces, and then get in there with your fingers (or a pastry blender) until the mixture is coarse, with butter pieces no larger than the size of peas. Mix the cheddar and black pepper into the dry mixture until combined. Pour in the buttermilk and milk, and mix with a wooden spoon (or your hands) until it forms a loose dough.
On a floured surface, knead the dough 15 times. If you need some kneading how-tos, check out this video. Pat the dough into about a one-inch thickness, and then use a biscuit cutter to shape the biscuits.
I did not have a biscuit cutter, so I had to improvise…
After the first round of cutting, you’ll have some dough scraps. Instead of wasting that goodness, shape these scraps into another dough ball, flatten, and cut more biscuits. Brush the top of each biscuit with milk and sprinkle with pepper. Line them up on a baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
This soup and biscuit combo forms a comfort-food superhero of sorts. In the soup, the fire-roasted tomatoes, jalapeno and onions form the perfect broth base, but then the toppings take it to another creamy, crunchy level. For us, this soup had the perfect amount of heat. If you’re a little afraid of spice, cut back on the jalapeno, or remove the seeds.
Now let’s get to these biscuits. They’re fluffy, flaky, and oh-so-buttery. The whole wheat flour gives them just enough nuttiness, which highlights the black pepper that’s specked throughout.
These biscuits just beg to be buttered-up and dipped in that soup. Can’t you see it? They’re waiting ever-so-patiently.
Slurp up this soup, break into these biscuits, and try not to be perfectly happy, cozy, and at peace with the world. I dare you.