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Too many tomatillos? Make updated tortilla soup

Although similar in flavor to green tomatoes, tomatillos don’t mock gardener’s efforts.

With little care and concern, the little bushes burst forth with fruits nestled in papery husks, then turn more golden and sweet with each fall day before dropping to the earth. Harvested earlier in the season, tomatillos are sour and full of natural pectin that makes them a dream for canning.

Lamenting the lack of ripe garden tomatoes in my previous post, I suggested frying some green fruits and sandwiching them with bacon and lettuce for a twist on the classic BLT. Also relying typically on tomatoes is this classic recipe for tortilla soup that’s been updated with tomatillos.

It’s easy to have too many tomatillos on hand when gardens are bountiful, so this recipe would extend the fruits’ appeal, particularly as weather in Southern Oregon cools. It’s courtesy of Tribune News Service, which adapted a recipe from French Laundry co-founder and chef Sally Schmitt.

Tomatillo Tortilla Soup

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and very thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 tomatillos (1 1/4 pounds), husked, scrubbed, and cut into wedges (4 cups)

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1 quart chicken stock

Roasted pepper strips, sour cream, toasted pepitas and cilantro leaves, for serving

Put the cumin seeds in a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking pan often, until fragrant, for about 3 minutes. Add the oil, onion, garlic, tortillas and a large pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions and garlic soften a little, for 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the tomatillos, orange zest and juice and chicken stock. Raise heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then simmer for 30 minutes. Season to taste again.

Divide soup among serving bowls and top with the roasted pepper strips, sour cream, pepitas and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by the Los Angeles Times from Sally Schmitt.

Tribune News Service photo