I grew up in the Wild Wild West of Colorado, and Mexican(ish) food was never very far from my plate.
Chicken tortilla soup used to be one of my favorites. It still is, and I make it at home for myself with a few variations. What follows here is my vegetarianized and gluten free version of one of my childhood favorites.
I’ve made more than a few changes, so that’s why its Mexican(ish) rather than authentic. But trust me, this is such a flavorful meal, you wont miss the chicken at all.
Here’s what you’ll need to feed about four hungry folks:
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 2 fresh tomatoes, quartered
- 1-2 carrots, sliced
- 1 potato
- 1 bell pepper (any color works, but I recommend either green or yellow just for color contrast)
- 1 can of kidney beans (or black beans)
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cups cooked rice
- 1 avocado
- 4 handfuls grated cheddar cheese
- 4 gluten free corn tortillas
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lime
- and last but not least, a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
There are probably some ingredients on that list that surprise you, like the turmeric, oregano and paprika.
These are not typical Mexican spices, and they’re not usually included in a recipe like this. Even the potato might seem odd to some in a tortilla soup recipe, as well as the fact that I included both canned and fresh tomato. But I promise, they are delicious additions. They all help contribute to creating an amazingly colorful and flavorful broth that doesn’t need chicken or pre-prepared stock to give it flavor.
The canned tomatoes dissolve in the soup and give it a red color, and the paprika and turmeric (which are wonderful and nutritious) give the broth some depth of flavor and brighten the color too.
Let’s get started:
Chop the bell pepper, potato, carrot, tomato and onion and place in a large pot. Add in the canned tomato and kidney beans. Then add enough water to cover it all and get it boiling. Add the herbs and spices and make sure they dissolve into the broth. Let it boil for a good long time, the more it cooks the better the broth comes together. Give it at least 2 hours.
While it simmers, dice up the avocado, cut the tortillas into strips and chop the cilantro. Then place them all in bowls on the table, with the rice and the shredded cheese. When the broth is done it should be a warm red color slightly sweet and spicy. Now it’s time to add the lime. Cut the lime into quarters and squeeze half of it into the pot. This will brighten the flavors and make it sing.
Now we’re ready to serve. Let people build their own bowls, starting with a little portion of rice, a few slices of tortilla, a sprinkle of cheese, and a bit of avocado and cilantro. Then pour some soup over it and watch it all melt into a delicious and satisfying Mexican(ish) stew.
This is a hearty vegetarian meal, warming, nutritious and pretty inexpensive too!
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Editor: Catherine Monkman