A formula for soup.

Oh this is so not a recipe.  It's more of a formula for a soup/stew thing that you can do on just about any old weeknight with just about anything in your house.  I've changed the title of this several times, because I reallly can't come up with what to call it - it has no name.  We eat some variation of this alot, because it's easy and fast.  Sometimes we call it tortilla soup - but there's really nothing about it that resembles a real tortilla soup, I think we just call it that because sometimes we put tortilla chips on/in it. 

The basic idea is kindof a Mexican-ish flavor of a thing, dressed with cheese and tortilla chips and some other stuff.  But it's really so versatile.

The formula: broth (chicken, beef, veg - depends on your protein) + salsa (jar, can, fresh) + protein (chicken, steak, meatballs, beans) + rice (cooked or raw) + other veg + seasoning + garnish.  It's great because you pretty much always have some version of these things in your fridge, pantry or freezer.  This can be made with all fresh ingredients, leftovers, or out of the pantry.  It's a classic staple for us on the boat because refrigerator space is tight and it can be made with all pantry ingredients - I've made it before with canned chicken, canned corn, beans, dry onions, canned salsa, etc. - and it's still really good!  It's amazing how just adding a can/jar/tub of salsa to broth can give you such great flavor. 

I often make this with chicken broth, salsa, rice, onions, black beans & corn, top with shredded cheese, sour cream, broken tortilla chips, lime juice and maybe a little more salsa. Simple. I love it.  Add more rice and/or more beans and it's thicker, like a stew.  Or less rice and more broth to be more soupy. 

I've also done a variation that has a more italian flavor - broth, tomato sauce and/or canned tomatoes, meatballs, italian seasoning, a little parmesan cheese on top. 

Tonight's version: some fresh, some leftovers.  This is the first time I've done it this fully loaded up with vegetables.  But I'm trying to work a lot more vegetables into our dinners, and I had a lot that I wanted to use up.  I also had a fridge full of leftovers.  I had a leftover piece of carne asada from a few days ago, so I sliced the steak very thin and used beef broth for the soup (plus about a cup of leftover chicken broth).  I also had some leftover Spanish rice and a little bit of brown rice and about half a can of black beans - in the pot they go!  The fresh vegetables included mushrooms, carrots, celery, zuchini, bok choy, red bell pepper - all thinly sliced or shredded.  I added a whole jar of a Trader Joe's tomato salsa, some onion, cilantro (frozen), garlic (frozen), oregano and some fresh lime juice.  I let it all simmer just long enough to soften the rice and heat everything through, since everything I put in was already cooked. 

I served it topped with a little shredded cheese, sour cream, shredded cabbage, crushed chips and diced tomato.