Veggie Tortilla Soup

8 Jul

When I used to travel frequently to San Antonio I learned about a specialty they have – Tortilla Soup.  I am usually cautious about Mexican dishes or maybe even Tex-Mex dishes (because I don’t know if this is something truly Mexican or an invention from north of the border) because I do not enjoy very spicy dishes or a lot of cilantro in my food.  Maybe this will change in time, but that was the way it was when I first tried this recipe.

Tortilla Soup originally is a basically a tomato-based chicken soup that is garnished with any taco fixings, particularly cheese, sour cream and avocado.   And fried tortillas would come to replace the noodles in the traditional chicken soup.  I loved the flavors and I would order this soup each and every time I would visit San Antonio.  The last time I was there, I was already a vegetarian so I decided I needed to come up with a veggie version of this new favorite.

The other day I bought 4 avocados – they were “green” as in not ripe yet, so I was not worried.  Then all of a sudden they all ripened at the same time and I had to scramble…  Because “llora ante los ojos de Dios” if you throw away an avocado because you just let it spoil rotten before you get to eat it…  so the light bulb in my head went off and said – Tortilla Soup with lots of avocado and a Guacamole.

I gathered some inspiration from the 101 Cookbooks recipe here.  I think Heidi is just awesome and I would love to learn from her how to take such beautiful food photos…  She’s an inspiration in many ways.   Heidi and her cookbook SuperNatural were recently nominated for a James Beard Award… big stuff!!!


2 corn tortillas
Some olive oil
Garlic salt
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
3 garlic cloves – no need to peel them, just smash them a bit with the side of your knife
1 tbs Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs sofrito
½ onion, chopped finely
½ sweet bell red pepper, chopped finely
1 cup of vegetable broth
½ cup water
10-12 grape tomatoes, quartered
Salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
2-3 slices of ripe avocado, cut into pieces
Sour cream, optional
Shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, optional
½ cup pumpkin, in small cubes, optional
½ cup baby red skin potatoes, cubed, optional
Handful of fresh baby spinach, optional


This recipe is enough for 2 people or for one, allowing for left overs for the next day.

There are several steps to making this soup… none of them are neither difficult nor time-consuming and they all add a special layer of character to this soup.

  1. First, place the grape tomatoes and garlic cloves still on their paper shells in a small oven-proof dish. Toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 350° oven for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Take the tortillas and using a small kitchen brush, brush them with a bit of olive oil.  Quarter them first, then stack them on top of each other and slice them into strips.  Scatter them onto a baking sheet and bake in the same 350° oven where the tomatoes came out of.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes.  Tend to them as they can go from pale to burn in a second.  When they’re done, spread them onto a paper towel and sprinkle them immediately with some garlic salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the meantime, we build the soup…  In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, we heat up some olive oil, sofrito, the chopped onion and peppers.  Add some salt and pepper to start layering the flavors.  Sweat it all together until softened.  
  4. Add the roasted garlic without their paper covering, the roasted tomatoes and the fresh tomatoes.  Sautee for a bit to combine the flavors with what was already in the pot.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and the water.  If adding the potatoes and pumpkin pieces, this is the time to do it.  Check the seasoning and add more salt or pepper as needed.  Simmer covered for about 20-25 minutes if you added the potatoes and pumpkins, if not, it may ready sooner, about 15-20 minutes.   If you’re adding the spinach, you can add it in the last 10 minutes of the simmering process.
  6. When the potatoes/pumpkins are fork-tender, turn off the stove and let it sit covered for a little while, about 10-15 minutes.  Nobody likes boiling soup burning their palates, no?
  7. Serve yourself a bowl of soup… now add the accoutrements – the pieces of avocado, the tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream.


This Tortilla Soup is easy, tasty, comforting and super easy to make – for one, two or a crowd.

I tried this recipe in its original version first.  Then to the left-overs, I wanted to revive it with fresh additions and that’s when I added the potato, pumpkin and spinach.  It worked great.  So you can make it like that from the start or use your imagination to revive your left-over soup with new things…  the potatoes and the pumpkins are not traditional, but who cares???


4 Responses to “Veggie Tortilla Soup”

  1. mindy July 10, 2008 at 2:20 pm #

    We eat a lot of tortilla soup here in Austin, TX as well! This looks delish and I’ve never tried it at home. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂

  2. Martha Marshall July 12, 2008 at 12:24 am #

    Can’t wait to try this soup. I have just about all the ingredients on hand except for the pumpkin, believe it or not! I bought more avocados than I needed, so that will work great. I am loving your blog!

  3. rose July 16, 2008 at 5:38 pm #

    “”Because “Llora ante los ojos de Dios” if you throw away an avocado because you just let it spoil rotten before you get to eat it… “” well…. that’s a nice way to put it.. cause what will really happen is that you’ll burn in hell!!! LOL!!!

    I LOVE tortilla soup.. it’s spicy but not hot, and the picture above just makes me drool.. thanks Madelyn.. congrats to you.. kudos my dear friend! :o)

  4. Danita November 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm #

    Can you please tell me what is sofrito? The recipes sounds great. My daughter ( age 27),is a vegetarian, and I am working towards it myself. Just looking to eat better. My daughter will love the name of your website when I tell her about it. We have a standing Wednesday night date. I fix dinner, she cleans up and we sit and watch “American Next Top Model”, Nip Tuck and another show that has slipped my mind at the moment.
    Thank you.. I enjoy looking at your website in the future..

    KFC – Of course… sofrito is a mixture of onions, peppers and garlic that I whip up in the food processor. It’s the base for a lot of my cooking and Latin cooking as a whole. By preparing it in advance in a food processor you don’t need to chop all these ingredients every time you need to cook to get the flavor advantages of using it. Find my basic SOFRITO 101 recipe here.

    Good luck in transitioning to a more vegetarian diet. With a good selection of great recipes under your arm, you can easily make the transition successfully. Be aware, many of my recipes are cheese-heavy. Be weary that eating a lot of cheese to replace your current meat-eating habits might turn to a bit of a wwight-gain… I speak from experience. Try to always have whole-grain cereals and carbs as your staple and go easy on the fatty cheeses… Eliminating sodas from your diet will help you a lot too…

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