Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Active Time 1h
  • Total Time 1h 30m

8 servings, 1 generous cup each

“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 chili flavors the soul-satisfying broth.


  • 3 large dried pasilla (negro), ancho or New Mexico chilies (see Tip)
  • 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 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or “no-chicken” broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 large sprig epazote (optional; see Tip)
  • 1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
  • 4 cups chopped chard, spinach or kale leaves
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ripe large avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 cups roughly broken tortilla chips
  • 3/4 cup shredded Mexican melting cheese, such as Chihuahua or asadero, or Monterey Jack or mild Cheddar (optional)
  • 1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges


Holding the chilies 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 chilies in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing them flat for a few seconds, then flipping them over and pressing again).

When cool enough to handle, stem and seed the chilies, 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).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the 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.

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 the broth, water and epazote (if using). Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer.

Drain the tofu, rinse and pat dry; cut into 1/2- to 3/4-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.

Add the 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.

Ladle the soup into 8 soup bowls. Divide the avocado, tortilla chips and cheese (if using) among the bowls. Serve warm, with lime wedges.

Tip: Ingredient Notes: Pasilla chilies, sometimes called negro chilies, are medium-hot dried peppers with a flavor that defines tortilla soup in central Mexico. Find them and other dried chilies in the produce section of large supermarkets or online at<br><br> 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<br><br> Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Publisher. All rights reserved.

RecID 10239

nutrition information per serving

208 calories; 13g total fat; 2g total saturated fat; 0mg cholesterol; 545mg sodium; 18g carbohydrates; 5g fiber; 7g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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