2nd Mexican recipe in the same week, is what you are probably thinking. Or, maybe you are just as excited about it as I am?? I like Mexican food, no love Mexican food. I grew up on it. And soup. Ahhhh, soup. My favorite thing on the planet to eat, and this might just be the one I live off of for the next 4 months. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold outside or 90 degrees, I will still eat soup and crave it. Weirdo? Perhaps, but that is what air conditioning is for. There is nothing quite like a spoon and a bowl of comforting soup in my hands. So, when my reader Estee requested I come up with an amazing tortilla soup, I was excited to create one. It had been a long time since I had one at a Mexican restaurant.
Let me introduce you to a beautifully colored, non-watery tomato-chile soup. I’m in love with this Vegan Mexican Tortilla Soup. Soooo many tortilla soups look like watered down broth with avocado and tortilla chips on top. I’m sorry, but I like FLAVOR. Now, there are about a billion different versions of tortilla soups out there. The Mexican tortilla soups are where it’s at. Classic Mexican tortilla soups have a cooked pureed tomato/onion/dried chile base that is then added to broth. Some are heavy broth and some are more tomato heavy. I went the tomato route because it gave more flavor and a thicker base, which I prefer. I tried to keep it simple, easy and still delicious and just created it to the way my tastebuds were happy. Tortilla soup is good, but it’s even better with the toppings of crispy corn tortilla strips and creamy avocado chunks. It’s just not tortilla soup without those toppings. I was most inspired to create my version after seeing this one and it’s simplicity. My version is quite different, but a similar process.
Unlike all other tortilla soups that use lots of oil, this one is completely oil-free! The only real fat is in the chopped avocado on top. So, this is a super healthy tortilla soup.
We need tomatoes and lots of them. Some roasted tomatoes, dried ancho chile peppers, broth, lots of onion, garlic and of course topped off with the classic crispy tortilla strips and avocado, and you are good to go.
Charring and rehydrating those ancho chile peppers really brings a ton of flavor depth to this tortilla soup. It’s amazing the flavor these bring.
Apparently after some research, original classic Mexican tortilla soups use dried pasilla chiles, but those are not as easy to find, whereas dried ancho chile peppers are always at my local grocery store. Those are simply dried poblano peppers and they add wonderful deep flavor to the soup. I absolutely love poblano peppers in any form. Using dried adds amazing flavor.
I even decided to make it extra droolworthy by adding my Mexican Tahini Sauce drizzled all over the top. By the way, that sauce is a huge reader favorite, so if you haven’t tried it yet, now’s your chance. Adding it to the soup is optional, but ohhhhhh so recommended. It really added another dimension of depth, flavor and creaminess. Kind of like how traditional Mexican tortilla soup uses cream or cheese on top, but I did my own thang. The soup certainly does not need this sauce for flavor, it’s more like for presentation purposes, but it’s not necessary.
This soup really reminded me of a cross between a brothy tortilla soup and enchilada sauce. It’s richer in flavor and much more my preference than the overly thin broth I’ve had before in tortilla soups. I can’t wait to hear what you think of this Vegan Mexican Tortilla Soup, so please leave me feedback below after you make it!
Mexican Tortilla Soup
- 2 large dried ancho chile peppers these are dried poblano peppers and what give depth of flavor
- 8 medium tomatoes 972 g, the smaller ones about 2 inches wide on the vine, make sure you use the right weight amount for the correct results
- 4 cups 960 mL low-sodium vegetable broth, separated, see directions (use your favorite strong broth here for best flavor, no watery stuff)
- 1 large red onion finely chopped (200 g)
- 3 large garlic cloves 1 1/2 tablespoon minced
- cumin 1/2 tablespoon, optional
- salt and pepper 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon blk pepper
- 8 corn tortillas cut into about 1/2 inch thick strips (or just use tortilla chips)
- 3 cups super sweet corn 405 g, I used Trader Joe's frozen, it's amazing
- cubed avocado
- Garnish: Optional Mexican Tahini Sauce Lime wedges
- Each step is crucial to the final flavor/texture result, so there are a few steps involved. To save time, you can rehydrate your peppers and char your tomatoes the day before you want to eat the soup. I did this and it also produces more flavor, but not necessary.
- First, you will need to toast and rehydrate your dried peppers. This is very simple. You will place a cast iron skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Once the skillet is hot, add your peppers, you will only cook them 2 minutes on each side. It's lightly charring them and softening them. I used a spoon to press them down on the pan. Do not cook them past a couple minutes on each side or you can burn them and ruin the flavor. Next, slice a few slits in the peppers with a knife and pour hot water over the peppers until they are submerged. The water will fill up the insides of the peppers helping them to soak down. Press them down to soak them. Cover with a plate and let them soak for just 30-45 minutes, max. After they have soaked, remove them and pull the stems off and remove all the seeds. They should be super soft and very easy to do this. Add them to a blender and set aside. Don't blend yet.
- While they are soaking, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet pan with foil. Add your whole tomatoes to the pan and roast them on the middle rack for 15 minutes, flip them over and then turn on high broil to broil them for another 10-15 minutes until looking very charred. Remove and add them to a blender, all the charred skins included. Don't blend yet.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, add ONLY 2 cups of the veggie broth to a large pot and add the onion, garlic, cumin (if using) and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil and once boiling, turn to medium-low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Once the onions are soft, add the broth mixture to the blender with the tomatoes.
- Your ancho chiles should be done soaking by now. Remove them from the skillet and pull the stems off and remove all the seeds. They should be super soft and very easy to do this. Add them to the blender with the tomatoes. Now you are going to blend everything up until really, really smooth. It should be like a really smooth salsa. You want to make sure to blend up all those skins from the tomatoes and chiles really well.
- Add the remaining 2 cups broth to the blender and blend once more. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the corn. Bring back to a boil, cover and then turn down to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste and add any more salt/spice, not forgetting that you are adding toppings. It should be a cross between a brothy soup and an enchilada sauce. If you want it thinner, add more broth. I loved it this way though!
- Lasty, while the soup is simmering, prepare the tortilla strips. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and stack them and cut them into 1/2 inch strips. Spread them out onto a parchment paper lined pan and sprinkle with salt if desired. Bake for 10-12 minutes until very golden, tossing them around at the halfway point. Watch closely at the end to make sure they aren't burning.
- This soup base is delicious and drinkable on it's own, but it's the toppings that really complete it and make it feel like a meal. Ladle your soup into bowls and add chopped avocado and add your crispy tortilla chips, load them up, add lots of chopped avocado. Break up the tortilla chips in the soup. If desired, garnish with lime wedges and my Mexican Tahini sauce. Right before serving I sprinkled a little extra salt on top. This soup gets better each day too!