Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

14 Reviews
From: EatingWell Soups Special Issue April 2016

“Tortilla soup has a place, I feel, in practically every collection of Mexican recipes,” says Rick Bayless. This is a vegetarian version of the classic soup, usually made with chicken. Earthy dark pasilla chile flavors the soul-satisfying broth. (Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless.)

Ingredients 8 servings

for serving adjustment
Serving size has been adjusted!
Original recipe yields 8 servings
Nutrition per serving may change if servings are adjusted.
  • 3 large dried pasilla (negro), ancho or New Mexico chiles (see Note)
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons canola oil or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large sprig epazote (optional; see Note)
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
  • 4 cups chopped chard, spinach or kale leaves
  • ¼- ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe large avocado, cut into ¼-inch cubes
  • 2 cups roughly broken tortilla chips
  • ¾ cup shredded Mexican melting cheese, such as Chihuahua or asadero, or Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar (optional)
  • 1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges


  • Active

  • Ready In

  1. Holding the chiles one at a time with metal tongs, quickly toast them by turning them an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds until the aroma fills the kitchen. (Alternatively, toast chiles in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing them flat for a few seconds then flipping them over and pressing again.)
  2. When cool enough to handle, stem and seed the chiles, break them into pieces and put them in a blender along with tomatoes and their juice. (A food processor will work, though it won't completely puree the chiles.)
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 9 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to the blender with the tomato mixture. Process until smooth.
  4. Return the pot to medium heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add broth, water and epazote (if using). Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer.
  5. Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry; cut into ½- to ¾-inch cubes. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the tofu to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Add chard (or spinach or kale) to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes, depending on the type of greens.
  7. Ladle the soup into 8 soup bowls. Divide avocado, tortilla chips and cheese (if using) among the bowls. Serve warm, with lime wedges.
  • Ingredient Notes: Pasilla chiles, sometimes called negro chiles, are medium-hot dried peppers with a flavor that defines tortilla soup in central Mexico. Find them and other dried chiles in the produce section of large supermarkets or online at
  • Epazote, an herb used in Mexican cooking, has a pungent, distinctive flavor unlike any other herb. Look for it fresh at farmers' markets or find it dried at Latin markets or online from

Nutrition information

  • Serving size: 1 generous cup
  • Per serving: 209 calories; 13 g fat(2 g sat); 5 g fiber; 18 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 39 mcg folate; 0 mg cholesterol; 4 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 2,185 IU vitamin A; 17 mg vitamin C; 157 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 350 mg sodium; 400 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (44% daily value), Vitamin C (28% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings: 1
  • Exchanges: ½ starch, 1 vegetable, ½ lean meat, 2 fat

Reviews 14

April 13, 2016
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Tweak it and it's the best soup you'll ever make I always read through the comments on recipes and in this case I'm sure glad I did. Here's what I did different (it sounds like a lot but really it's not): --28oz can fire-roasted tomatoes instead of the 14oz. Later when adding the rest of the liquid, I did 4c veggie broth and 2c water. --while stirring the puree to thicken, I added chipolte powder, chili power, cumin, and salt (didn't measure, just put some in) --once simmering, added 1 can black beans and a bell pepper (next time I'll add corn too) Pros: Mexican flavors Cons: Time
January 09, 2014
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Great taste and easy to modify I made some modifications based on what I had on hand and this a hit with my family. I used Chipotle chili powder instead of the chili mixture and pressed, marinated (in lime juice & seasonings) and pan fried the tofu cut into smaller squares. What time I saved on the chilis I spent on the tofu but it was worth it. I added other vegetables, reduced the amount of kale and used vegetable broth, but also added concentrated vegetable bullion (Better than Bullion) and added lime juice to the soup rather than serving lime wedges with the soup. Pros: Delicious
September 08, 2013
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Wonderfully simple flavors I made this recipe for the second time tonight and I made a few adjustments. First I used 3 dried New Mexico chiles and 1 dried chipotle pepper instead of anchos. I liked the extra heat, flavor and smokiness. I try to avoid too much soy/tofu, so I used 1/2 cup dried kidney bean and 1/2 cup corn instead (I obviously cooked the beans ahead of time, and honestly I would have preferred black beans,but didn't have any on hand). I used a mix of kale and red Swiss chard, but really any greens you like will work well. I added 1/4cup cilantro with the greens too. I really love avocado, so I used 2 total, so each serving had 1/4 avocado. I had a nice organic smokehouse jack on hand, so I used that too and it really enhanced the rich smokey flavor from the fire roasted tomatoes and the chipotle pepper. I really enjoyed this recipe the second time around. I think it is very important to allow the tomato mixture to completely thicken to the texture of tomato paste (which takes A LOT longer than the 6min noted in the recipe) and then you must also let it simmer for at least 30min after you add the water and broth. Pros: Quick and easy
April 10, 2013
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Awesome Soup I mistakenly only used six cups of no-chicken broth (and no water) and found that even six cups of broth was too much. It watered down the chile puree. I compensated for taste by adding chilli powder, cumin, and a packet of Goya Sazon Achiote. I did not want to use tofu and greens and added black beans and corn instead- and with the tortilla chips, avocado, and cheese, it was so good. My take away from making this soup is understanding that the four cups of broth and four cups of water is too much. Next time, if using the eight cups of liquid, I will double the negro chiles and canned diced tomatoes. Pros: Great taste, easy to make Cons: Uses too much liquid
February 18, 2013
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Good, but needs a little something more I followed the recipe except for the epazote, which I couldn't find anywhere. I substituted about a tablespoon of cilantro in place of it. It had decent flavor, but needed something more as I found it very bland. Next time, I would add at least one more chile, another clove or two of garlic, salt and probably some carrots and zucchini. Pros: Decent taste Cons: Bland, takes a while to cook
January 05, 2012
profile image
By: EatingWell User
Delicious I had no tofu so used a can of mixed beans. Also used freshed corn tortillas instead of crushed chips. Really delicous and healthy, would make this again in a second.
November 16, 2011
profile image
By: nk.chiemelu
Satisfying spicy winter soup I loved (and am still loving thanks to leftovers) this soup. I didn't have the proper peppers to roast so I used 1/2 tsp cayenne paper in the onion-garlic mix instead. I also have no clue where to find epazote so I added a handful of cilantro. The soup was a wonderfully hearty dish that filled me up and provided me with tons of protein (from the tofu) and greens (from the kale). The cayenne gave it such a great kick on a cold winter's night. Really warms me up!! Pros: Simple to make Cons: some ingredients may not be widely available
April 12, 2011
profile image
By: lillic
Best Tortilla Soup Ever This made, by far, the best tortilla soup I've had. For reference, I used 4 chiles instead of 3 and did not really bother to remove the seeds (mine weren't very hot). I didn't have any spinach on hand, so I used a mix of carrots, corn and peas. Most soups are versitile this way, and it would still be great with spinach. Lastly, I didn't have any tofu, so I did add chicken instead. Again, it would be good either way. This soup is really flexible, and especially satisfying with the cheese, avocado, and tortilla chip toppings. The broth would be great applied to other soups or to augment your current chili recipe, etc. Pros: Amazing Broth Base Cons: None
January 05, 2011
profile image
By: KL.Smith
Delicious I love this soup. Since it came out in the April issue of the magazine I've made it at least half a dozen times and it is always delicious! I haven't made too many adjustments on the recipe but, depending on what I have at the time, I do switch out the vegetable broth with chicken broth. This soup is easy to make and always a huge hit!
More Reviews