Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Crispy tortilla strips and creamy avocado play off a rich, fragrant broth in this tortilla soup recipe. A squeeze of fresh lime juice takes it over the top!

Tortilla soup

Tortilla soup is one of my favorite foods. Not just one of my favorite soups (though of course it is), but one of my favorite foods in general. I love how the rich, flavorful broth contrasts with toppings like crunchy tortilla strips and creamy avocado. Now that the temperatures are cooling off for the season, you can bet that I’ll have this tortilla soup recipe on repeat.

Tortilla soup (or sopa de tortilla or sopa Azteca) is thought to have originated in central Mexico, though you can find regional variations throughout Mexico and the US today. I can’t claim that this vegetarian recipe is entirely authentic, especially since most traditional tortilla soups are made with chicken broth and sometimes shredded chicken breast. Still, this twist is delicious – hearty, warming, and full of bold flavor. At this time of year, I can’t get enough of it. I hope you love it too!

Tortilla soup recipe ingredients

Tortilla Soup Recipe Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this vegetarian tortilla soup recipe:

  • Tortillas, of course! Corn tortillas only, please! You’ll blend one into the broth to thicken and flavor the soup and crisp up the rest to use as a topping.
  • Dried chiles – A pasilla chile would be most traditional. However, I have better luck finding Guajillo and ancho chiles at my grocery store, so I’m calling for them here. They give the soup its striking color and add SO much depth of flavor.
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – Along with the dried chiles and blended tortilla, they create the soup’s thick, fragrant base.
  • Avocado oil – Its neutral taste makes it a great choice for this recipe, but you could sub extra-virgin olive oil if that’s what you keep on hand.
  • Onion and garlic – For sweet, aromatic flavor. I like to reserve some raw onion to use as a topping.
  • Black beans and corn – They make the soup hearty and satisfying. Fresh and frozen corn both work here, but I highly recommend opting for fresh corn if it’s in season.
  • Ground cumin and dried oregano – They add earthy complexity.
  • Vegetable broth – Use store-bought, or make your own. Water works here too.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

And don’t forget the toppings! Sliced radishes, fresh cilantro, diced avocado, and crumbled Cotija are all great.

Find the complete with measurements below.

Charred tortilla in a cast-iron skillet with dried chiles around it

How to Make Tortilla Soup

The first step to making this tortilla soup recipe is toasting the dried chiles and tortilla. Use kitchen scissors to cut off the stems of the chiles, then slit them vertically from their trimmed tops to their pointed tips. Remove the seeds, and spread the chiles open so that they lay flat.

Toast the chiles in a dry skillet over medium heat until they’re soft and fragrant. Toast the tortilla on both sides until it puffs up and becomes lightly charred.

Dried chiles and charred tortilla in a blender

Then, blend the soup’s flavorful base. Place the tomatoes in a blender with the toasted chiles and tortilla. Blend well until completely smooth. Before moving on to the next step, stir the puree to check its consistency. You want to make sure that no chunks of chile skin remain. If you see any, keep blending.

Hand pouring thick tomato mixture from blender into pot with sautéed onions

Next, sauté the aromatics. Add the avocado oil to a large pot, and cook the onion until it’s soft. Quick note: I like to set aside some raw onion to use as a topping. If you’re a fan of raw onion too, don’t add it all to the pot in this step.

Stir in the spices and let them cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes.

Thick tomato broth in pot with wooden spoon

Then, simmer the soup. Add the garlic, water, and beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the toppings. Cut the remaining tortillas into thin strips, and toss them with oil and salt. Toast in the oven until they’re curled and crisp. While they cook, prepare any other toppings you want to use.

Finally, serve the soup in bowls with your desired fixings and a big squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

Crispy tortilla strips on baking sheet

Tortilla Soup Serving Suggestions

This tortilla soup recipe is best with lots of toppings to accent the fragrant broth. Here’s what I like to put on mine:

  • Crispy tortilla strips. This tasty topping is super easy to make (look for detailed instructions in the recipe below!), but if you want to simplify, you could sub crushed tortilla chips.
  • Cotija cheese. Crumbled feta works too!
  • Sliced radishes
  • Diced onion
  • Sliced or diced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro

And I always serve this soup with lime wedges for squeezing!

Store leftover tortilla soup, separately from its toppings, for up to 4 days in the fridge. It also freezes well. It thickens as it sits, so I usually add a splash of water to loosen it up when I reheat it. Store leftover tortilla strips at room temperature.

Tortilla soup recipe

More Favorite Soup Recipes

If you love this soup, try one of these delicious soup recipes next:

Tortilla Soup

rate this recipe:
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
Serves 4 to 6
Our favorite tortilla soup recipe! It features black beans and corn simmered in a fragrant tomato broth. To take it over the top, pile your bowl with avocado, Cotija cheese, and lots of crispy tortilla strips.

Ingredients

  • 2 dried Guajillo or ancho chiles
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large white onion, diced, reserve ⅓ cup for topping
  • teaspoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth, plus more as needed
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, from about 2 ears fresh
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For serving

  • Diced avocado
  • Sliced radishes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Use kitchen scissors to slice the stems off the chiles, then cut the chiles open vertically along one of their edges. Spread them open so that they lay flat. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the chiles for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until soft and fragrant. Place one of the tortillas in the pan and toast on each side until puffed up and fragrant.
  • Place the toasted chiles and tortilla in a blender and add the tomatoes. Blend until smooth.
  • Heat the avocado oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until softened. Add the cumin and oregano and cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the tomato mixture and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, water, and beans and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the corn and simmer for 10 more minutes.
  • Cut the remaining tortillas into thin strips and place on the prepared baking sheets. Drizzle with avocado oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Spread evenly on the baking sheets and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until crispy.
  • If the soup is too thick, stir in a little more water to reach your desired consistency. Season to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the crispy tortilla strips, reserved diced onion, avocado, radishes, cilantro, and Cotija cheese. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

5 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Aimee
    10.20.2022

    5 stars
    Used guajillo chiles, half black beans and half pinto, and added a couple cups of diced butternut squash at the same time as the beans. Turned out very flavorful with a mild spice, and got rave reviews at the office potluck!

    Since it was being served to a big group I squeezed some lime juice into the pot and just had some tortilla strips to top, and while I’m sure the whole range of toppings would enhance the experience a simple version works just as well.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.21.2022

      Hi Aimee, I’m glad everyone enjoyed it!

  2. Michal
    09.29.2022

    5 stars
    This was super good! My first time ever making anything with dried chiles, and I loved the flavor they added. Thank you for the recipe. 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      10.02.2022

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. Hungry House
    09.29.2022

    Looks Yummy! I will definitely try at home.

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.