I’m not sure which part of this soup is the best part, the soup itself or the toppings. I don’t think either could shine as brightly alone. This soup is spicy, smokey and flavorful, but when topped with the richness of avocado, saltiness of Cotija cheese, freshness from lime and cilantro and crunch of the tortillas…it’s like an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth that all compliment each other.
This tortilla soup is so hearty and satisfying. It’s a perfect dinner that you can make ahead of time, then just top off before serving. You can add shredded chicken or just keep it vegan. Either way, it’s really delicious. I can attest to that. See the second bowl of soup in the background? Yeah, I ate both of them!
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. fresh thyme leaves, stems removed
1 T. chipotle in adobo (see note)
1/2 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped, seeds and veins removed
8 C. vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 14.5oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 29oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
6 – 8 corn tortillas, sliced in about 1/2″ wide strips
handful of freshly chopped cilantro or parsley
shredded cooked chicken (if using)
1 corn tortilla, sliced into fine strips
vegetable oil spray (I use a Misto)
dash of salt
1 – 2 large avocados, diced
1/2 C. crumbled Cotija Cheese or vegan cheese shreds
1 lime, for squeezing a bit and zesting
the other half of the jalapeño pepper if you’d like more heat
In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion,
celery and carrots. Sauté until the onions have softened, then add the garlic. Cook for a minute then add the cumin and thyme. Stir for a second until fragrant, then add the chipotle and jalapeño. Cook one more minute then add the broth and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes.
Add the black beans and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.
Just before serving, add the tortilla strips and the handful of cilantro or parsley, give it a stir and removed the pot from the heat. Allow to sit for a few minutes while you prepare the toppings.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the tortilla that you cut into fine strips on a baking sheet and spray with the vegetable oil spray and a dash of salt. Toss to coat and bake for 4 to 5 minutes or until just golden and crisp.
To serve the soup, put some of the shredded chicken (if using) at the bottom of the bowl, ladle the soup over the chicken, top with the avocado cubes, a squeeze of lime, the Cotija crumbles, some crunchy strips of tortilla then add a bit of lime zest and more cilantro or parsley if desired.
- For the chipotle in adobo, I buy a 7oz. can of it, then using a blender, processor or hand blender, I puree the whole can. Use just what you need, one tablespoon in this case, then store the rest in a labeled sandwich size zipper bag in the freezer. Try to spread it out thinly in the bag so it’s easy to just break some off next time you need it.
- I know I’ve said this before, but jalapeños can be unpredictable. Start with a small amount in the soup and work your way to your degree of spiciness. I love heat, but between the chipotle and the jalapeño, this soup can get pretty hot!
- If you’ve made your own chicken broth, just use the shredded chicken from that for this soup. It’s awesome!
- Cotija Cheese is a hard white cheese made of cow’s milk. It crumbles really well. It is not huge on flavor, but it adds a nice bit of saltiness to this. It is primarily used as a topping.