When we moved to Austin, I started seeing Tortilla Soup on menus all over the place. It sounded amazing, and when friends ordered it, it looked even better. But as a vegetarian, the chicken broth and chunks of meat kept it off my table.
But not one to be discouraged, I decided to experiment and create my own version. Just without the meat. And I’m happy to say, with endorsement from my resident meat-eater, I think I’ve finally got it right! The recipe is at the bottom of this post. But first, here’s the process.
I started the soup by making a pot of brown rice, and setting that aside to steam. I also put some cooked black beans into a pot to warm with some crushed garlic and lime juice. You can use beans you’ve cooked from scratch, or use plain, unseasoned canned black beans. Your choice.
The soup itself starts with coarsely chopped peppers and onion and several whole cloves of garlic, sautéed in extra virgin olive oil.
To that I added my seasonings…cumin, black pepper, oregano and cayenne pepper. Once they had sautéed for a couple of minutes, I stirred in a can of diced tomatoes.
Then in went some fresh cilantro.
I let that all simmer together for about a half an hour. It smelled heavenly!
When the soup was almost done, I sliced a couple of fresh, ripe avocados, and drizzled them with lime juice.
I chopped a whole bunch of fresh cilantro (never can get enough! I love cilantro!)
And then it was ready to assemble. I like to use large shallow soup bowls for this. First I added a scoop of rice, then topped it with a tumble of black beans. Soup was ladled into the bowl and then the whole dish was dressed with avocado and cilantro.
I put the tortilla chips on the table for everyone to garnish their own dish (soggy tortillas are nasty!) I also put out a selection of hot sauces for people like me who like a little extra kick. And finally, I had my very own Austin-style, vegetarian-friendly Tortilla Soup!
Ready for your own? Here’s the recipe:
Vegetarian Tortillia Soup
Makes 4 generous servings or 6 side servings
2 cups cooked brown rice, warm
2 cups cooked black beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large green peppers, coarsely chopped
2 large yellow (not sweet) onions, coarsely chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled, but not crushed
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, plain or seasoned
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper (or more to taste)
Generous amount of fresh ground pepper (at least 5 or 6 turns of the grinder)
8 cups chicken-style vegetable broth
15 ounce can white and yellow corn
1 package Morning Star Farms Meal Starter Chik’n Strips
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 large ripe avocados, halved then sliced
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
Cilantro for garnish
Tortilla chips or strips
Hot sauce for the table (optional)
Put the black beans in a pot on low. Add the garlic, lime juice and water, and cover. Allow to warm slowly, stirring once or twice while cooking.
In a large, heavy bottom pot, add olive oil, peppers, onions and whole garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until onions just start to become translucent and peppers are slightly softened.
Add cumin, oregano, black pepper and cayanne and stir to coat vegetables. Cook for one minute.
Add canned tomatoes, broth, Chik’n Strips, chopped cilantro and corn. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Scoop rice into a ball at one side of the soup bowl. Top with drained black beans. Scoop soup into bowls but not over top of rice and beans. Garnish with avocado slices and cilantro. Pass tortilla chips and hot sauce at the table. Yum!