Very Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

My boyfriend doesn’t like to eat very much and I mean that both ways.  I mean – eating is something he seems to do only because he must and – when he must – there are only a few things that strike his fancy.  Among them are pizza (thank God), my pasta with clams, grilled cheese sandwiches, meat of all kinds (it seems) and a host of soups.  Tortilla soup is one of his favorites.  I decided I needed to make him some the other day.  I’d never made it before & I wanted to be able to try it – so I made a vegetarian version.  The other challenge I faced was that I had to make it from ingredients I already had in the house.  It was incredibly hot out & I was too lazy to make a market run.  “Why make a spicy soup on a hot day?” you might ask.  I might respond by saying, “That’s nothing.  I made three shepherd’s pies, a carrot cake & corn chowder this week on a 95 degree day.”  I don’t know that that would answer the question you were really asking – but that’s all I got for ya.

I didn’t have any vegetarian stock or bouillon cubes – so I had to make the stock from scratch, too.   A recipe will follow – but you can do this a zillion ways.  I chose to use what I did because I HAD it.  You might not have all these things or you might choose to use others that you think sound good.  This made a lot of stock – maybe ten cups.  I froze all that I didn’t use in one pint containers that I recycled from past sour cream, mozzarella or cottage cheese etc purchases.  These also make great to-go containers for you to send guests away with leftovers in (pardon that grammar).

This soup really is the result of some creative combining and I think it came out pretty good.  Still – in an ideal world – I would have used fewer canned items in it & gone with fresher options – especially with the cheese.  But the fact that it came out so well – means that you can probably substitute like crazy & still come up with a pretty decent tortilla soup – so do not feel you need to follow this one – either the ingredients or the quantities of each ingredient – with anything resembling loyalty.  I didn’t have any avocado – so mine here isn’t adorned with any – but I recommend you use some.


Vegetable Stock



a few carrots – chopped into big chunks

a few stalks of celery – chopped into big chunks

1/2 large russet potato – chopped into big chunks

1/2 small head cabbage – chopped into big chunks

1 large shallot – chopped into big chunks

2 jalapenos – chopped into big chunks

several sprigs of fresh Thyme

a handful of fresh cilantro

a handful of fresh sage

a handful of fresh oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Salt & pepper


Fill a large stock pot with water.  Add all the other ingredients & bring to a boil.  Reduced heat & simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Strain (through cheesecloth if you have it – but this isn’t necessary) into another pan & toss all the ingredients away.  Voila!  You will likely use 4-6 cups or more in this.  Freeze the rest in smaller containers for future use.



Very Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup


4-5 corn tortillas – cut into thin strips

4-5 corn tortillas – chopped

3 TBS olive oil

1 large onion – diced

2 tomatoes – diced

8 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 russet potato – diced

6 chipotle peppers & their adobo sauce – diced (less if spicy bothers you)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes – fire roasted if you have them (I didn’t – so I used regular)

1 15 oz can of vegetarian refried beans (or you can use garbanzos or other canned white bean)

1 10 3/4oz can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup (REAL fresh grated cheese – a cup of it – would be MUCH better)

handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp paprika (smoked if you have it – though mine was not)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp turmeric

Salt & Pepper (1 tsp each – or to taste)

1 cup corn (fresh of the cob is best – but canned or frozen are fine)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

6 cups vegetable broth

1/2 avocado – sliced or diced (for garnish)

1 tomato – finely diced (for garnish)

chopped cilantro (for garnish)

grated cheese (for garnish)

lime wedges (for garnish)


Heat your oven to 350.  Spread the thinly sliced corn tortilla strips in a single layer on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking oil.  Bake the strips 10-15 minutes until they are crispy.  Try not to overcook them (they should not be browned).  Remove from oven & set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup stock pot.  Saute the onion & potato over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic for a minute & then add the chopped tortillas and the dried spices (turmeric, thyme, paprika, S&P) and the chopped cilantro.  Stir them in & then add the canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, chipotle peppers and the vegetable stock (use at least 5 cups – more if you like a thin soup).  Bring to a boil & then add the canned cheese soup.  If using real cheese – add it AFTER the soup has been pureed.

Remove the soup from the heat & allow it to cool enough that it is safe to begin blending it all up.  In smallish batches – blend the soup into a puree.  Never get lazy & try to over-fill the blender – as you are sure to pop the top off & scald yourself.  I go with 1/2 to 2/3 full & put a thick kitchen towel over the top of the blender to assure the top doesn’t fly off & create a hurricane of whipping, boiling soup in my kitchen – and in my face.

Once the soup is all pureed, add the real cheese (if you are using) and the heavy cream.  Simmer this on a medium-low flame – stirring frequently –  until the cheese & cream or fully incorporated.  If the soup is too thick – add more vegetable stock.  If it is too thin – allow it to cook down a bit.  Taste & add S&P – if you desire.

Serve in bowls & garnish with tomato, grated cheese, cilantro, avocado & a few baked corn tortilla strips.  Serve each bowl with a lime wedge to squeeze into the soup – if you desire.



2 thoughts on “Very Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock

  1. Pingback: Shrimp & Cheesy Grits – My Way & On the Highway | Delightful-Delicious-Delovely

  2. Pingback: Vegan Herbed White Bean Soup with Lemon-Garlic-Parsley Gremolata | Delightful-Delicious-Delovely

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