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.
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.
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.
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
makes 4 generous servings
adapted from Food and Wine
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
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.