Vegetarian Tortilla Soup makes a comforting lunch or dinner, all in one bowl! Featuring black beans, crispy tortilla strips, and plenty of veggies, this soup recipe is loaded with flavor.
Why You’ll Love It
It’s easy to make. There are only a few veggies to chop before getting started, and then this recipe relies on convenient dried spices and canned goods to make your life easier. It all simmers together in one pot!
It’s healthier. Instead of using corn tortillas as a thickener, this recipe gets a thicker texture by simply blending some of the soup. This way you get the texture you love, without excessive tortilla use. Serve it with crispy tortillas on top, or ladle the soup over the tortillas just before serving, for crispy bites throughout.
It’s filling. This vegan soup recipe is loaded with fiber and plant-based protein, to help keep you feeling full. It makes a great option for meal prep, since it’s easy to heat up for lunch or dinner.
It’s delicious. The depth of flavor in this tortilla soup is amazing! It tastes like it’s been simmered for hours, but it’s ready to eat after just 30 minutes of cooking.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in vegetarian tortilla soup?
- Diced tomatoes
- Black Beans
- Red bell pepper
There’s so much flavor in this soup! I use regular vegetable broth when I make it, but feel free to use a low sodium version, if you prefer. You can also just use water as the base, and add a little extra seasoning before serving. It’s delicious, either way!
Use fire-roasted tomatoes when you have them on hand, but regular diced tomatoes will work here, too.
How to Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
1. Saute the veggies.
Pour the olive oil into a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the onion and red bell pepper until they are soft, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir briefly, until the spices smell fragrant, about 1 minute.
Pour the broth into the pot, then add in the diced tomatoes, drained black beans, and salt.
Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then cover the pot with a lid and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes.
3. Bake the tortillas.
While the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 400ºF and cut the tortillas into thin strips, about a 1/4-inch thick. I also like to cut them in half, making the strips about 2 to 3 inches long.
Place the tortilla strips on a rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle them with a tablespoon of olive oil. Toss well to make sure they are evenly coated, then arrange the strips in a single layer. Sprinkle the tops generously with salt, then bake until the tortillas crisp up, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Let the tortillas cool while the soup finishes cooking.
Prefer to skip this step? You can use store-bought tortilla chips as a short-cut for serving.
When the soup is done cooking, transfer 2 cups of it to a high speed blender. Carefully blend the soup until it’s smooth, then return it back to the pot, to add extra creaminess to the overall texture. You can even blend another cup of soup, if you prefer a thicker texture.
Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to blend the soup directly in the pot.
Add the chopped fresh cilantro to the soup, and stir until it’s wilted. Adjust any seasoning to taste, adding an extra pinch of salt or a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if needed.
Serve the soup warm right away, with the crispy tortillas on top to help add crunch. You can also place the tortilla strips on the bottom of the soup bowl, then ladle the soup over them if you prefer they get a little softer.
Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, green onions, or extra cilantro, if you like.
Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
The tortilla strips don’t have to be chilled, and should keep well for up to 5 days at room temperature in a tightly sealed bag. (So they don’t go stale.)
Common Questions & Substitutions
Yes, of course! If you don’t have smoked paprika on hand, you could use chili powder instead, or try adding a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for a smoky flavor. I use crushed red pepper flakes instead of fresh jalapeño, because I don’t like to deal with jalapeno juices getting on my skin, but you can add a fresh one if you prefer, when you saute the other veggies.
Of course! If you end up pureeing more of the soup than you’d like to, or you prefer a more broth-based soup, you can add another cup of water for a more liquid result. Be sure to add more salt in that case, to compensate for the extra quantity.
Yes! Saute the veggies and spices as directed in step 1, and be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot when you add in the water to make sure none of the spices stick. Add in the beans, diced tomatoes, and salt and secure the lid. Move the steam release valve to “sealing” and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 to 15 more minutes, then move the steam release valve to “venting.” The soup should be ready to puree after that.
Yes, after sauteing the veggies and spices, you can add them into the slow cooker or crockpot with the water, beans, diced tomatoes, and salt. Cook covered on low heat for 6 hours, or on high heat for 3 hours. After that it should be ready to puree as directed.
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 1 red bell pepper , chopped & seeds removed
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use less for a more mild soup)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup corn kernels (I use frozen)
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans , drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt , plus more
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro , chopped
Crispy Tortilla Strips
- 3 corn tortillas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- fine sea salt
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the onion and red bell pepper until they soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes. Stir for 1 more minute, just until they smell fragrant.
- Pour in the vegetable broth, corn, diced tomatoes (along with the juices from the can), black beans, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Prepare the crispy tortilla strips by cutting the tortillas into thin slices, about a ¼-inch thick, and 2 to 3 inches long. Place the strips on a large rimmed baking sheet and toss them with the olive oil. Spread them out into a single layer, without overlap, and sprinkle the tops with salt. Bake at 400ºF for 10 to 12 minutes, until they look golden. Let them cool in the pan to crisp up completely.
- When the timer for the soup goes off, remove the lid and transfer 2 heaping cups of the soup to a blender. Carefully blend the hot soup until it's smooth. (Cover the vent in the blender's lid with a thin towel to allow steam to safely escape without blowing the lid off.) Return the soup to the pot, then stir in the cilantro and adjust the seasoning. I usually add another full teaspoon of salt, but add it in only a ½ teaspoon at a time, so you don't wind up over-salting it.
- Serve the soup warm with a handful of the crispy tortilla strips on top, along with any other toppings you like, such as sliced avocado, green onions, or cheese. Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Store the tortilla strips separately, in a container at room temperature, for up to a week, then add them on top just before serving the hot soup again.
If you try this vegetarian tortilla soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it.