Tortilla Soup

Vegetarian tortilla soup

What’s your idea of heaven on earth? Not in a heavy philosophical sense, but what would your dream world look like? In my utopia, the clouds are made of cream cheese frosting. Fresh coffee appears in a mug on my nightstand every morning (splash of cream, please). Daylight lasts until 9 pm every night. Cookie lives forever by my side and I only have to go to one grocery store to get everything on my list.

Better yet, the ingredients magically appear in my kitchen when I need them. That would be beyond amazing. I spend so much time tracking down the right ingredients for blog recipes between the three grocery stores that I frequent. It’s exhausting.

radishes and dried chili pepper

I got a little taste of what my heaven would be like this week when I received a box containing ingredients and recipes for three wholesome dinners courtesy of Blue Apron. I picked up the box at the UPS Store and worked up an appetite carrying it all four blocks back to my apartment. Once I finally got home, I tore into the box and found a giant head of fresh escarole on top. Greens! Delivered! I was starving and wasted no time getting to work on dinner.

vegetarian tortilla soup ingredients

All three recipes seemed like they could be made in well under an hour, but I chose the quickest one, the white bean and escarole chili. As instructed, I prepared the vegetables in advance, which made everything flow easily. (Note to self: prep more for easier cooking.) The onion and garlic that I chopped were sizzling when I poured pre-measured amounts of cumin and coriander into the pot. Dang, that was easy.

I got my first taste of teff, too, which is an ingredient I’ve been meaning to try. I learned about teff from the recipe card while the soup simmered away on the stove. (FYI: teff originated in Ethiopia and provides all of the essential amino acids). And just like that, dinner was ready. It was absolutely delicious. The card said the soup yielded two servings, but it made enough for four servings for me. Grocery delivery might be the closest I can get to heaven on earth.

crispy tortilla strips and hominy

Blue Apron asked me to share one of their many vegetarian recipes with you today and I chose the tortilla soup. Of all recipes that call for chicken, tortilla soup might be the only one that I’ve missed since giving up chicken and beef over 3 (or 4?) years ago. Giving up meat required an adjustment period as I found other foods to replace my old standbys. Most of the substitutions were not exact replacements. Chicken fingers are no longer part of my diet, and to make up for lost protein, I found myself eating more beans and eggs over time. My plates became more colorful and more interesting.

Tortilla soup was the one meal that got away. Now, I’m glad I’ve found a homemade replacement for the salty bowls of chicken tortilla soup that I used to order at chain restaurants. My version is more fresh and flavorful, too. That just seems to be the way meatless meals go.

Vegetarian tortilla soup recipe

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
4.7 from 9 reviews
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 to 4
A hearty, quick and delicious tortilla soup made from scratch. In case you can't find dried chili peppers or hominy at the store, I've provided substitution suggestions in the recipe below.
  • 1 dried smoked chili pepper or 1 poblano pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced.
  • 1 to 2 medium jalapeños (optional, use one for medium spicy soup and two for spicy soup)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes or chunky tomato sauce*
  • 32 ounces (4 cups) vegetable stock
  • 14-ounce can hominy, rinsed and drained (optional)
  • 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Sea salt
  • 6 corn tortillas (6-inch, taco-sized)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 to 4 radishes, sliced into super thin rounds
  • 2 ounces queso fresco or feta cheese (optional), crumbled
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, sliced into small wedges
  1. Prep work: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Stack the tortillas and slice them into ½-inch-wide, 2-inch-long strips. Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapeno (and poblano, if using) and chop the peppers. Wash your hands. Pit, peel, and medium dice the avocado, then squeeze some lime juice over the avocado to prevent browning.
  2. Bake the tortillas: Coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of oil. Toss the tortilla strips in the oil to coat and arrange the strips in a single layer. Bake 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown. While the strips are hot, season them with salt.
  3. Toast the chili pepper: Place the dried chili pepper directly on the oven racks. Bake for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or just until the pepper is warmed through. When cool enough to handle, cut the pepper open and remove the seeds. (Wash your hands afterward and avoid touching your eyes!)
  4. Make the soup: In a medium pot or Dutch oven, heat some olive oil on medium until hot. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeno and poblano peppers (if using). Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cumin, then the canned tomatoes and vegetable stock. Simmer for about 3 minutes, then add the hominy, black beans and the seeded chili pepper. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve the soup: First, discard the dried chili pepper. Place some of the avocado, radishes, tortilla strips, and queso fresco (or feta) at the bottom of 2 to 4 bowls. Divide the soup between the bowls. Top the soup with the remaining avocado, radishes, tortilla strips, and queso fresco (or feta). Garnish with some cilantro and serve with lime wedges and hot sauce, if desired.
  • Recipe adapted from Blue Apron's tortilla soup with hominy and queso fresco recipe.
  • Recipe yields 4 moderate servings.
  • *I used Muir Glen's chunky tomato sauce. It comes in a BPA-free, 28-ounce can. I saved the leftover sauce for pizza but I probably could have just added it to the pot.
  • To make this recipe vegan/dairy free, just skip the feta cheese.
  • To make this soup gluten free, buy certified gluten-free corn tortillas.

If you’d like to give Blue Apron a try, you can get 30 percent off your first box with this special link. Offer ends November 30, 2013.

Here are some more vegetarian Blue Apron recipes to check out:

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Apron. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who allow me to serve up more recipes. Opinions are my own, always.


  1. says

    Wow, this looks fabulous! I’ve always wondered about hominy, and never knew what to use it for. I also totally agree about heaven on earth including a 9pm sunset…these past few days have been rough! Great pictures as always!

    • says

      This is my first hominy experience and I like it! I think. Its flavor isn’t as strong as corn. It really just adds texture to the soup. I think it’d be great without it, too.

  2. says

    This sounds delicious. And thank you for introducing me to blue apron! My husband and I are organic farmers and we run a CSA, I love the idea of placing a few different recipe cards in the boxes. Brilliant!

  3. says

    Made something similar on Monday! It was delicious. I love your spin on it. I need to try this version. And good call on the Mexican cheese.

  4. says

    Ooh now you’ve got me dreaming about my foodie dream world! Same as you, it would be sunny and bright outside till 9pm. There would be no snow – ever. Fast food restaurants would be replaced with salad bars, juice bars, and some sort of Whole Foods To Go concept. I wouldn’t have to grocery shop for very much because I would have a huge backyard garden of all the fruits and veggies I need (and said garden would actually stay alive – I swear, I have a knack for killing anything green.) Oh, and you would be my favourite neighbour who makes me delicious tortilla soup… and pancakes. You’ve got crazy skill when it comes to pancakes! ;)

  5. says

    I don’t think I’ve ever attempted a veg version of tortilla soup either, which is kind of shameful and just…sad. Definitely loving this version with it’s fresh flavors and hearty comfort-ful-ness.

  6. says

    FIND A WHITE DRESS because I am coming over to MARRY you! This looks a-MAZ-ing!

    (also, I’m kidding–I’m gay, married, and thoroughly entrenched in the world of parenting a toddler–but my family is going to love this soup!)

    • says

      Veronica, I’m sorry to hear that the soup wasn’t quite right. My soup was a little on the thick side, but I liked it that way. I believe you could thin out the soup with more broth if you’d like. I’ll also edit the recipe to specify a medium onion.

  7. says

    I have had such a hard time finding just the right recipe for a vegetarian tortilla soup, but you’re right that vegetarian options often have a nice, clean fresh taste that their counterparts often lack. I can’t wait to whip this up soon to usher in the dark days–I’ll have to let you know how it goes. Thanks, Kate!

  8. Carmen says

    made this last night & absolutely LOVED it! the combination of flavors are wonderful. my husband said it was one of the best things i’ve made. =)

  9. Rebecca says

    I just made this for dinner for my boyfriend and me. Delicious! I used a poblano pepper (they’re my favorite) and two jalapeños. The spice level was perfect. My boyfriend is a big meat guy but he really, really liked the soup, even having seconds on a full stomach!

  10. Jan says

    My daughter and I fixed this on New Year’s Eve. It was soooooo delicious! The only thing we decided we’d do differently next time is to put in less hominy. I loved the added crunch that the radishes added!

  11. Krystal says

    Love this recipe and everything from the Mexican recipe list especially! I host Wine Night every Thursday and we have made our way through your entire favorite Mexican recipes list. This was tonight’s and a big hit. Thanks for making me look so good (though I do give you the credit, always!). I used Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Adobo Seasoned canned tomatoes on this (as well as the other canned tomato requiring recipes on that list) and they are a DELICIOUS addition. Thanks for your recipes! Love your blog.

    • says

      Krystal, your comment made my day! Thank you. I’ll have to cook some of these recipes for my girls at girls night. I didn’t know that Muir Glen offers adobo-seasoned tomatoes—I’ll keep an eye out for them! Thanks again for the comment.

  12. Daniela says

    Hello, I’m mexican. This recipe is more like a vegan pozole than a tortilla soup, sounds good I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing

  13. Ann says

    Looks delicious! I’m looking for more vegetarian entrees to start reducing the number of times we eat meat. If using the poblano pepper, do you roast it the same way you would the chili pepper? Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Ann! You could roast it (then peel off the burnt skin and chop) for more flavor, but it would be easier to sauté it. See step #4 for directions. Hope you love the soup!

  14. Evelyn says

    When my baby and I make this soup we always add peanut butter and roasted/salted cashews. I know, it sounds weird, but I think it makes the soup richer and fattier so you never miss the chicken.

  15. Rebecca says

    Just made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. My husband went back for thirds:) We’re not vegetarians but I try to make meatless dinners at least twice a week. Usually my husband complains but not tonight. Can’t wait to try out some more of your recipes.

  16. says

    THE BEST! Made it last night, everyone loved it and went back for more, so fresh and delicious, I’m so stoked I found your recipes! Have you got a recipe book out yet? YOU SHOULD!!

  17. Charissa O. says

    Both my husband and I went back for seconds… And thirds. This has joined our regular rotation of Sunday double-batch recipes to set us up for lunches through the week. We don’t have much time to cook, so I’m always on the hunt for yummy and nutritious dishes that are hearty enough to last a few days. Winner-winner-blackbean-dinner!

  18. Fleur says

    Made this last night with a couple of alterations due to what I had in my pantry :) Subbed a can of pinto beans for the hominy and used fire roasted tomatoes.

    Delicious! Next time I’m doubling the recipe! I thought I’d have enough to put a couple jars in my freezer, but we decided to have seconds (even though we were full!). Got a big tick of approval from omni Partner as well.

  19. Caroline says

    After obsessing over this recipe for a few days, I finally pulled the trigger, bought all the ingredients and got busy in the kitchen. I used the poblano vs. the chili pepper and followed the recipe exactly. It turned out great. Beautiful color and great taste. I added some sour cream to each serving bowl along with the other garnishes and it created a yummy, creamy consistency. It also made more than I thought but doubling and freezing isn’t a bad idea. It even passed the test with my carnivore boyfriend. I will definitely be adding this to the repertoire. Thanks!

  20. says

    Hey Kate (and cookie)…
    I am a food enthusiast hailing all the way from Barrow, Alaska.
    I used to be a MO Springfieldian. Long story short I moved here for work.
    Another long story really short, I have a nanny who is vegetarian. Before she arrived here I was going almost vegetarian until I found myself with the need to come up with more vegetarian cooking in my kitchen. I do almost all the cooking in my Barrow, Kitchen. I do however, not skimp on organic veggies and organic ingredients. I buy a lot of my veggies and fruits here: due to the fact that I live on the top of the world… Focus Drew! Ok, anyway your tortilla soup is a good variant of the tortilla soup (with chicken) I have made. I did love the idea of tasting it with wine that sounds fantastic like commenter said.

    Thanks so much for sharing your cooking goodness and for inspiriting many of us to seek our own taste of heaven. Please keep posting more recipes!

    Question: Do you like to make breads? Just wondering since that is a new avenue I am exploring as well…


    Drew Lopez

    • says

      Hey Drew, thank you for your comment! Sounds like you are quite the cook. I haven’t gotten into baking real bread, just quick breads. Maybe that will change someday!

  21. Paige says

    Just made this tonight, loved it! I doubled the tomatoes (28oz), added some leftover cubed potatoes I had in the fridge, and replaced hominy with frozen sweet white corn. I couldn’t find a dried chili pepper so I used a fresh one (minced and added with the jalapeno) and it worked well. So yummy!

  22. Nicole says

    This turned out amazing! If you’re not incredibly skilled in the kitchen -but looking to wow some picky eaters while keeping the meal healthy and fresh – this is the perfect recipe. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you!

  23. Lauren says

    I rarely leave comments on recipes but I decided to make this soup tonight and all I can say is WOW!! So simple, tasty and fresh. What a fantastic recipe. I’m originally from San Diego but I currently live in Dublin, Ireland so finding some of these ingredients was tricky enough. I replaced the hominy with sweet corn, added extra jalapenos, and had to use mild cheddar instead of queso fresco (unfortunately). I’m so glad I decided doubled the recipe because it turned out a million times better than I expected. Thanks for sharing!

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