- Food: Tortilla Soup
- Writer: Lizzie Green
- Content-Type: Food Blog
Do you like soup made with tortillas? It’s one of my favorites of all time! Tortilla soup is light and delicious, with an earthy undertone and a hint of heat.
It’s a light but filling meal for lunch or dinner, topped with a large handful of crispy tortilla pieces. It tastes even better the next day, as a bonus.
Although most Tex-Mex tortilla soups contain shredded chicken, vegetarian tortilla soups are common in Mexico. But I wouldn’t call this a truly authentic recipe.
It’s a fantastic take on traditional tortilla soup (Sopa Azteca) that you can cook at home whenever you like.
There are many regional variants and personal preferences for tortilla soup in Mexico. I used black beans to add some weight to this recipe, as well as a red bell pepper because I enjoy the flavor and texture it brings.
I tried to match the rest of the components to those found in Mexico, but to be honest, I’ve had more personal experience with the Tex-Mex varieties I’ve had over the years.
This is a completely revamped version of a previous tortilla soup recipe. Perhaps you’ve tried it and liked it, but I recently tried it again and realized I could add extra flavor along the way.
Chili Pepper Options
When it comes to cooking this soup, you have a few options that vary in terms of authenticity, simplicity of preparation, and ingredient availability.
Options one and three are both written into the recipe below, so you can follow it either way. They are as follows:
Chili peppers + blender (option 1) (most authentic)
To bring out the taste of the peppers, first, roast them in a dry skillet, then roughly cut them and remove the stem and seeds. Then we’ll proceed by blending the roasted peppers into the tinned tomatoes.
This option is fantastic because it’s the most authentic and gives the soup a beautiful, flaming red color and added substance.
Option 2) No blender + chili peppers (my least favorite)
Another method is to roast the peppers first, then combine them with the liquid components in the pot to simmer. This is the way I used it for my old recipe, although I like the other possibilities.
The chili pepper adds a little flavor to the soup, but not nearly as much as the other selections. Simply eliminate the chili peppers before serving if you go this route.
Option 3) Chili powder without the use of a blender (easiest option)
This is the most basic choice, yet it produces a great flavor. All you’ll need is some good-tasting fresh chili powder. Chili powder from Frontier Co-op worked well for me.
This is also an excellent opportunity to utilize a fun specialty chili powder, such as chipotle or ancho chili powder. If desired, you can reduce the spicy level by starting with less chili powder and gradually increasing it to taste.
Tortilla Soup with Vegetables
|Time to Prepare: 20 minutes
Time to cook: 40 minutes
1-hour total time
Serves 4 servings
Warm up with a bowl of black bean-based vegetarian tortilla soup instead of chicken. This soup recipe is light and flavorful. There are 4 servings in this recipe.
Tortilla Soup INGREDIENTS
- 2 mild dried chili peppers* or 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder, to taste
- 1 can (15 ounces) diced or crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow or red onion, chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fine salt, more to taste
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) of black beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups of cooked black beans
- 4 cups (32 ounces) of vegetable broth
- 4 corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch long,bb
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Garnish options: Thinly sliced and roughly chopped radish, diced ripe avocado, crumbled feta cheese, or a drizzle of sour cream
- If using dried chile peppers, roast them with tongs in a dry skillet over medium heat or directly over a gas flame. Toast until fragrant and darkening all over—this can happen rapidly, in as little as a minute or two. Allow the peppers to cool completely before roughly chopping them, discarding the seeds and stem. In a blender, puree the tinned tomatoes (together with their fluids) and chopped peppers until smooth. Remove from the equation.
- Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Combine the onion, bell pepper, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and transparent.
- Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the garlic and cumin (and chili powder, if used) are fragrant. Stirring constantly, to bring out the greatest flavor of the tomato-chili pepper blend (or just plain tomatoes if taking the chili powder way).
- Stir in the beans and broth until everything is well combined. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a soft simmer, then reduce the heat as needed to keep the mixture at that temperature. Cook for 30 minutes on low heat.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit while you prepare the crispy tortilla strips. To make cleanup easier, like a big, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the tortilla strips with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt on the baking sheet until gently and evenly covered. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway through until the strips are crisp and golden. Remove from the equation.
- Stir in the majority of the cilantro, keeping a little amount for garnish. 1 tablespoon lime juice 1 Taste the soup and season with extra salt if the tastes aren’t just right (I usually use up to 1/4 tsp salt). If you want it to be a little spicier, add a little extra lime juice.
- To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Crisp tortilla strips, reserved cilantro, and any extra toppings of your choice are served on top. Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; reheat individual servings and garnish with garnishes before serving. Alternatively, you can freeze individual servings for several months and then top them with toppings after reheating.
- USE CERTIFIED GLUTEN-FREE CORN TORTILLAS OR TORTILLAS CHIPS TO MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE.
- TO MAKE IT DAIRY-FREE/VEGAN, FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS: No cheese or sour cream on top.
- OPTIONS FOR DRIED CHILI PEPPER: Any mild chili pepper would suffice. Choose from pasilla peppers, ancho peppers, Anaheim (California) peppers, and peppers from New Mexico (Chiles del Norte). I tried this soup using both Anaheim and New Mexican chilis, and they were both very mild.