This is my take on tortilla soup - a full-bodied, spicy vegetarian broth envelops a nest of baked tortilla matchsticks. Many tortilla soup recipes call for egregious amounts of shredded cheese, but I've found that a bit crumbled goat cheese or greek yogurt lends just the right amount of creaminess, without throwing everything entirely out of whack nutritionally. And you can take the toppings in a number of tasty directions.
The Keys to Good Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
The keys here are adaptability and good ingredients. There are a thousand ways you can remix this recipe based on your personal preferences or what looks good at your local markets. If I'm after a one dish meal, I'll add some grilled (or smoked) tofu, or a poached egg. If I feel I need greens as well, I'll toss in some shredded chard or spinach. For a more typical take you might (instead) finish the soup with sliced avocado or guacamole, cilantro, chopped white onions, and a squeeze of lime.
Lots of Topping are a Plus
I love this soup fully loaded. And tend to use whatever I have on hand. That said, avocado is a must more often than not. And, one of the questions I get most often is related to slicing them. You can see a demonstration in this video. The safer way is to cut straight down into the table, but I live on the edge a bit and cut with the avocado cradled into my palm.
This is clearly what happens when a tortilla soup meets a California pantry - you can flare it out with salted yogurt, sliced avocado, and a squeeze of lime (above). Or take it in another direction altogether, and top the soup with roasted cherry tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese.
Have fun and I'm hoping my vegetarian tortilla soup remix of the classic will inspire you to try you own using whatever ingredients you might be inspired by. Use the broth as your base and play around from there!
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup Recipe
As I mention up above, if I'm treating this like a one bowl meal, I'll toss in some tofu (smoked or browned in a skillet) and some shredded chard as well. Heat alert: I call for 1 teaspoon of spicy red chili powder at the beginning of this recipe - keep in mind that some chile powders are stronger than others. If you (or your family) are worried about the soup being too spicy, scale back. The worst thing you can do is make the soup too spicy too early in the process. If you start out light, you'll be able to adjust the amount of spiciness toward the end. If you like your soup spicier, add more chile powder toward the end. One last note, this is another soup where seasoning is so important. If you haven't seasoned it properly with salt, it is going to taste very flat.
- 6-8 corn tortillas, cut in half and then into matchstick-thin strips
- a couple splashes of extra virgin olive oil
- fine grain sea salt
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cayenne or other spicy red chili powder
- 1 14- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
- 1/3 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
- Topping Ideas: crumbled goat cheese, sliced avocado, salted Greek yogurt or sour cream, and lime
Gently toss the tortilla strips with a glug of olive oil and salt. Turn them out onto a baking sheet, arrange them across the pan and bake in a 350F degree oven for 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Set aside.
For the soup itself - in a big pot over medium-high heat cook the garlic and onions in another splash of olive oil along with a couple pinches of salt for just a minute or so. Stir in all the spices and then the tomatoes. Cook down for about five minutes or so, it should thicken a bit.
Remove from heat, add one cup of the broth and puree with a hand blender (or puree in a traditional blender). Add the remaining 5 cups of broth and puree until smooth. Bring the soup back up to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt until it tastes really good.
Serve the individual bowls topped with roasted cherry tomatoes and as many of the other topping as you can pull together: plenty of tortilla strips, sliced avocado, crumbled goat cheese, a big squeeze of lime, etc.