Recipe Image

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • 1 h
  • 1 h 30 m
Rick Bayless
““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.)”


    • 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


  • 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
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED © 2019 Printed From 11/15/2019