Joy the Baker

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

July 16, 2014

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Let’s just all admit that it’s weird that I made soup.  Hot soup.  I didn’t even have the decency to make cold soup.  It’s heat hot, it’s spicy hot, it’s just all up in your face hot… smack-dab in the middle of summer.

Some nerve, really.

I need to openly admit that I really miss (I mean… really miss) California Mexican food.  I’ve made so many obscure tacos in my kitchen I might as well buy a taco truck and call it a career.

This soup is SO GOOD! It’s like eating the soup version of a vegetarian enchilada… in a bowl, with a mega amount of fresh toppings!  If you’re looking to beat the heat, may I suggest enjoying this soup while sitting in front of your open refrigerator?


Well.. fine then.

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Here’s how this goes:  lots of chopping.

I start with the tortillas (into rectangle-like strips), move on to yellow bell pepper, try not to kill myself by slicing a jalapeño, measure out the spices, mince the garlic (why do I haaate this!?), and finish with a quick chop of the onion.  Onion last.  Those things can be spicy on the eyes.

This recipe calls for a large can of diced tomatoes.  I picked up a can of the fire-roasted diced tomatoes and loved the results.  Extra toasty!

For spices we’re adding paprika, cumin, coriander (which comes from the cilantro plant!), chili powder, and cayenne.  These create a wonderful balance of smoke and spice.

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Black beans for flavor and protein… and also because sometimes I’m just too lazy to cook chicken.

Even though this soup is labeled vegetarian, I used chicken broth.  I love the flavor.  I hate cooking chicken.  There you have it.

The onions and garlic are cooked down with the canned tomato.  I added the chicken broth and took an immersion blender to the mixture, creating a somewhat smooth soup base.  Then the peppers, and beans are added.  Some smooth.  Some chunky.

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Tortilla soup is nothing without its toppings.. namely, fried tortillas!

I also love all of the fresh ingredients we add to the hot soup:  radish, cilantro sprigs, and avocado bring the crunch and bring the creamy.

Cheese, too… and sour cream. Let’s just go all the way.

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

makes 4 generous servings

adapted from Food and Wine

Print this Recipe!

6 tablespoons olive oil

5 corn tortillas, stacked and sliced into small strips

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, juice and all

4 cups vegetable broth

1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, depending on your taste

fresh cracked black pepper

1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into small chunks or fresh corn sliced from 2 ears of corn

1 small jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed and thinly sliced

For the Topping:

corn tortillas (fried above)

4 radishes, thinly sliced

fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

ripe avocado, sliced

sharp cheddar cheese, grated

sour cream

In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add the tortilla strips in two batches, flipping and frying until crisp.  Drain crisp strips on a paper towel and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium heat and add onions.  Cook until translucent and just browned, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.  Add paprika, cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.  Stir and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the crushed tomatoes, juice and all.  Stir to combine.  Add the chicken broth, salt, and a good sprinkling of black pepper.  Use an immersion blender to blend the mixture until halfway to smooth.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully spoon the mixture into a blender to blend until smooth.  Return back to the pot (if using  conventional blender) and heat over low heat.

Add beans, bell pepper (or corn), and jalapeño and lightly simmer until bell pepper is softened, about 20 minutes.

To serve, spoon into bowls and top with fried tortilla strips, slice radish, fresh cilantro sprigs, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese, a few slices of avocado, and sour cream.

Soup will last, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.

49 Comments Add A Comment

  • Tortilla soup is a favorite at our house, and my husband will think he’s died and gone to heaven when I put radishes on top!

  • dessertfortwo July 16, 2014 at 7:25 am

    I’ll eat hot soup all year ’round! No complaints from me! Plus, my garden is overflowing with radishes. They’re actually pushing themselves out of the ground and telling me to eat them. And I’m like ‘where are all the rabbits??? I need help eating all of these.’

  • I love Mexican food, and think I could rival you for obscure tacos although I’d be willing to put the rivalry aside to set up a taco van with you. It’s on my dream job list. This soup has a lot of texture going on and with that I think we can excuse it’s hotness. Did you try it cold, or did it go too quickly?

  • put an avocado on it and i’m in for anything! also if you hate mincing garlic (as i do) why not get a garlic press. one of those self cleaning jobbies. cleaning one more small appliance > dread of mincing garlic

  • YUM. We’re currently without AC in the Texas heat, so this is a no-go until that gets fixed (hopefully soon!), but then this is happening! You had me at enchilada in a bowl…

  • This soup is to die for, looks delicious! Here in Buffalo, we are famous for wings AND having no decent Mexican food! And I read people who eat spicy food eat less and eat healthier overall, wonder if that’s true?

  • This sounds YUM! Tortilla soup isn’t really a thing in Australia. I’ve seen it on other blogs and cooking shows. This looks so great. Especially since it’s FREEZING here!

    Thanks Joy.

  • gahhhh I love it, I’ve pinned it for autumn because I agree with you about eating in front of an open fridge at the moment. I’m also totally in the same camp as you with chicken broth, I love vegetarian recipes and food, but sometimes only chicken broth will do. I’m really looking forward to making this, fingers crossed it will satisfy my Mexican food cravings too :D

  • You totes nailed it JTB. It’s winter here and I’d love that right now! Can’t wait to try it.

  • I love spicy, hot, make-you-sweat soup. I love that it’s vegetarian, and spicy, and I’d love to sweat to a bowl of this :)

  • i’m looking at your lovely, perfect, ripe avocado. and then i’m looking down at my breakfast avocado. and i’m not happy.

  • love all the ingredients together!! looks so delicious!

  • I feel ya on the california mexican food. I moved away last year and miss it dearly. Luckily im vacationing there this week and am going to eat mexican everyday. And ill make this soup when i get back to the land of terrible mexican food.

  • yum! this looks super delicious! and who cares that it’s a hot soup when it’s got those mazing Mexican flavors running through it! beautiful photos!

  • Even when it is boiling hot, I still want soup at night time. I have a weakness for Mexican food; by you making it meatless is a bonus for the veggie lover in me. lovely!

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