Last week I could not get over a strong craving for fresh corn tortillas. I would find myself throwing them over an open flame on my stove until they were barely charred and ripping them into bite size pieces to enjoy their savory, roast-y, corn-y goodness.
Smelling and tasting that roasted corn got me thinking of summer, and particularly chicken tortilla soup. There is nothing quite like a roasted savory broth, perked up by bright acidic lime juice mixed with super creamy avocado and crispy tortillas.
I immediately wanted to recreate my favorite elements of chicken tortilla soup but give it a whole-foods plant-based makeover by eliminated the chicken and deep fried tortillas, and adding lots of Mexican inspired nutritious vegetables.
Since it is still winter I decided to make a thick soup rather than a broth to create another layer of comfort in this cold weather. To add some extra fiber and nutrients I decided to add in peeled zucchini and pinto beans along with the familiar flavors of onion and chilies.
I chose to use fire roasted tomatoes and bell peppers along with smoked paprika to bring an extra richness to the soup.
To me personally, I love me a tortilla chip, what’s not to love? They are crunchy, salty, and deceptively addicting. They are the perfect combination of fat and salt that light our taste buds up like a carnival ride. Tortilla chips are usually fried and loaded with unnecessary grease that does nothing but add nutrient poor calories to our belly’s. So, to get all of the goodness from the delicious corn, I decided to use the tortillas in two ways;
First, as a natural thickener inside of the soup, so the flavor of roasted corn tortillas gets into every spoonful.
And second, I baked the tortillas, without any oil to create a nice crunchy texture on top of the creamy soup.
This soup is my tribute to the corn tortilla, may you always be delicious, supple, and ready for a pile of fresh black beans, killer guacamole, or rolled up and eaten plain, just the way you are, perfect.
I hope you try this exceptionally creamy, comforting, spicy version of your feel good Mexican staple.
Creamy Tortilla Soup
A new twist on a classic favorite! Using a whole lot of vegetables and creamy beans, this is a delicious, thicker, blended version of your feel-good Mexican staple.
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 medium zucchinis peeled and diced
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/4 c. diced hatch chilies (optional)
- 1 small jalapeno diced
- 1 c. roasted bell peppers chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro stems chopped
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 14 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
- 6 oz tomato paste (1 small can)
- 1 c. pinto beans re-fried or whole
- 1 package small corn tortillas (about 10)
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- fresh lime juice
- red onion
- hot sauce
- cashew sour cream
- freshly cracked black pepper
Prepare and chop all the ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat add the onions and zucchini. Adding a splash of broth so the veggies do not stick, sauté until the onion until it starts to become translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Add in the garlic, hatch chilies(optional), jalapeno, roasted bell pepper, and cilantro stems, stir to combine.
Add in the cumin, oregano, and stir for 1 minute, until the spices are fragrant and mixed well with the vegetables. Add in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, pinto beans, and 5 corn tortillas*. Add the rest of the vegetable broth and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, until the tortillas and vegetables are soft.
Using an immersion or a regular blender carefully blend the contents of the soup until a nice thick consistency is reached (a few pulses should do the trick.) Return the soup to the pot to keep warm. Season with salt and black pepper.
Take the remaining corn tortillas and cut them into strips. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until crispy.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with optional toppings, I personally love fresh lime juice, avocado, fresh tomatoes, more cilantro and the crispy corn tortillas.
* If you want a extra spicy kick I highly recommend adding the hatch chilies, if you can't find hatch you can always use canned diced green chilies.
* To add a more intense fore roasted flavor, lightly char the corn tortillas over an open flame of a gas burner 10-15 seconds per side should do the trick, but watch carefully! You can also dry cook the tortillas in a saute pan over medium high heat until cooked and slightly crispy.