Vegan Tortilla Soup with rich, bold, tomatoey, smoky, limey, garlicky flavor and piles of crispy, crunchy baked tortilla strips. Then come the extra toppings which really seal the deal. It's quick and easy to make and totally delicious!
Vegan Tortilla Soup is happening. Are you ready?!
When it involves smoky, limey, garlicky tomato rich broth with beans and corn and ALL the toppings then there's no doubt that me and my soup pan are right here ready and waiting.
This soup is simple and quick and easy, but it packs a real flavor punch. It's rich and deep and the topping situation takes it right over the top.
I mean hot flavor intense soup, crispy golden tortilla strips, zippy lime and optional but very recommended buttery soft avocado, fresh cilantro, fiery jalapeño, crumbles of salty melty vegan feta cheese plus whatever else you fancy.
This is a real good food kinda situation.
What is tortilla soup made of?
Here are the main players going into our simple but very flavorful pot of vegetarian tortilla soup today:
- Onions & garlic - The basis of all good recipes!
- Herbs & spices - For flavour and smoky warmth. Don't skip the smoked paprika. It is one of my favorite spices by far and adds amazing flavor to this soup. Most grocery stores carry it. It will be with the herbs and spices. It's well worth having in your pantry and I use it in my recipes all the time!
- Crushed tomatoes - I like to use fire roasted for extra smoky flavour. Muir Glen Organic are my favorites. Regular is fine if you can't find fire roasted though.
- Black beans - From a can or cooked yourself from dried
- Sweetcorn - From a can or frozen or fresh
- Cornstarch for thickness and gloss.
- Fresh lime - Added to finish the soup. The acid balances out the sweet, smoky flavours and adds some lovely fresh zip.
- Crispy tortilla strips - Crisped up in the oven and used to top the soup, adding amazing crispy, crunchy texture!
How to make Vegan Tortilla Soup
For detailed measurements and instructions, scroll to my printable recipe card at the bottom of the page or click the "jump to recipe" button at the top of the page.
This is a really easy soupy situation we got going on here.
Step 1: We start with the usual suspects. Onion and garlic sautéing 'til golden.
Step 2: Then the spices go in to toast a bit.
Step 3: Followed closely by the corn starch which you stir in until it looks lumpy and weird.
Step 4: The crushed tomatoes, broth, beans, corn, herbs and touch of sugar join the party next.
Step 5: While that's simmering away we make our crispy tortilla strips.
How to make crispy tortilla strips
Look, I know it's super easy to grab a bag of salted tortilla chips from the store, open them and dump them on your soup, but my crispity-crisp tortilla strips are so easy to make, involve no deep frying and take 12 minutes tops.
You just need some tortillas. I like to use corn tortillas because I think they are more flavourful and the colour is nicer but regular wheat tortillas are fine too.
I recommend using the small 5 or 6 inch ones and not the large ones because they are much easier to manage, both when cutting and making the crispy strips and when adding them to your bowl of soup.
Step 1: Leave the tortillas in a pile and slice through them all multiple times so they are in strips.
Step 2: Pick the strips up and put them in a large bowl. Pour over a little oil.
Step 3: Massage the oil into the strips with your hands.
Tip onto a lined baking tray and spread them out in a thin even layer, ideally with a little gap around each one.
Sprinkle with a little salt, then bake for 12 minutes. Leave to cool on the tray.
No judgments from me if you still go for the bag though ;O)
This is a pretty easy and foolproof recipe so there's not much that can go wrong but I do have a few tips:
- I recommend fire roasted crushed tomatoes if you can get them as they add loads of extra flavor.
- If you have the time, make the crispy tortilla strips yourself rather than buying a bag of chips. They only take 12 minutes!
- A squeeze of fresh lime to finish the soup makes a huge difference to the balance of flavors so don't skip it.
- Don't skimp on the toppings!
Ideas for toppings and sides
You might be wondering what goes well with tortilla soup? Well, we are ALL about the toppings!
When that pot of soup is hot and delicious we are going to serve it up in bowls and top them with as many toppings as we can get away with.
- the compulsory crispy tortilla strips, or salted tortilla chips from a bag if you're feeling lazy ;O)
- fresh lime
- crumbled vegan feta cheese (my recipe is amazing with this soup and adds irresistible creaminess and saltiness!)
- sliced jalapenos
- fresh cilantro
- sliced green onions
- fresh mango (sounds odd but works!)
- red onions
- hot sauce
- unsweetened vegan yogurt
- vegan sour cream
If you’re serving this soup up to a crowd, set out individual bowls of toppings and have everyone help themselves!
With all of those toppings you probably won't be needing any sides, but just in case you do, some freshly baked cornbread, no knead focaccia, Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuits, or just regular bread with my vegan butter are always good options!
Ways you can adapt this recipe
This vegan tortilla soup is pretty perfect as it is but you could reduce the beans and add more veggies to make it more of a vegetable tortilla soup. Or keep the beans as they are and just add more veggies anyway! You can use any that you have in the fridge. Some that would work well are celery, kale, collard greens, bell peppers and carrots.
You could also add leftover cooked rice or other grains to the soup to bulk it up and make it go further. Any would work.
This soup already has a good amount of protein (12 grams per serving) but if you want to add more you can increase the beans (either more black beans or maybe some pinto beans too), add some cooked quinoa and also be sure to serve it with my vegan feta cheese which is tofu-based and also high in protein.
Storage and reheating tips
Soup leftovers taste even better because the flavors have that extra time to develop. Store them in a sealed container in the fridge. They will keep for 4 to 5 days.
To reheat transfer to a pan and warm on the stove top over a medium low heat until piping hot. The time it takes will vary depending on how much soup there is to heat. Alternatively you can microwave it.
Leftover tortilla strips can be stored in an air tight container. If they do get a bit limp you can easily refresh them. Simply spread them out on a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven for 5 minutes on 375 °F / 190 °C. They will come out good as new.
You can also store leftover toppings like jalapenos, green onions and cilantro in an airtight container although they do tend to be better when prepared fresh so try to only cut up what you will need.
Can you freeze tortilla soup?
Tortilla soup (minus the toppings) freezes well. Once cool, fill a freezer safe container up to three quarters full and put it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you need it, defrost it in the fridge overnight and to reheat transfer to a pan and warm on the stove top on a medium low heat until piping hot. The time it takes will vary depending on how much soup there is to heat.
If you happen to have any unused unbaked tortillas left they can also be frozen. Put them in an airtight container or freezer bag and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remove a few hours before you will be needing them and leave out on the kitchen counter to defrost, or remove them the night before and defrost in the fridge.
Meal prep tips
The great thing about soup is that you can make a batch of soup ahead of time and portion it out into containers for the week/months ahead.
Divide portions up into mason jars/leak proof containers and refrigerate them for 4 to 5 days. Prepare any toppings (see my ideas for toppings and sides above) and keep them in a separate airtight container in the fridge. The only exception to this would be avocado which really needs to be prepared and chopped just before you are going to eat it.
If you want to freeze individual portions use suitable freezer safe containers and fill them just three quarters full to allow room for expansion as it freezes. Freeze for up to 3 months. Pull one out of the freezer the night before you need it and let it defrost in the fridge overnight.
Tip for making in a slow cooker
You can easily make this vegan tortilla soup in a slow cooker. Simply add all of the ingredients to the pot (excluding the tortillas and oil), cover and slow cook on low for 5-6 hours or high for 4-6 hour. Then you will just need to prepare the crispy tortilla strips as directed or open a bag of chips instead.
Tips for making in an Instant Pot
This soup works great in an Instant Pot. There are 2 methods. The very quick and easy one, or the slightly longer one where you sauté the onions etc first for a bit more flavour.
I won't lie. I'm a fan of the chuck it all in and press go method which involves, yes, you guessed it, chucking all of the soup ingredients into the Instant Pot (obviously not the tortillas though right?). Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. You can then do a very careful quick release (cover the spout with a cloth to protect yourself and surroundings). That just leaves the tortilla chips. Either follow my recipe instructions for baking your own or buy a bag of tortilla chips to make life really easy.
If you prefer the more flavour method though, sauté the onion and garlic in the pot first for a few minutes. Once they are starting to turn golden turn the pot off and add the spices. Stir it all around so they toast in the residual heat. Then add the stock and give the bottom a really, really good scrape with a wooden spoon to get any brown bits off. Then add all of the the soup ingredients and cook on high pressure for 4 minutes before naturally releasing the pressure.
Are tortillas vegan?
I get asked all the time if tortillas are vegan and most are, but be sure to check the ingredients just in case. Occasionally you will find things such as lard, butter, margarine or whey powder. And sometimes you will find animal-derived enzymes, glycerin, monoglycerides and diglycerides. This is more likely in wheat-based tortillas than corn-based ones.
Corn tortillas and better quality brands of flour tortillas tend to be more consistently vegan friendly. Cheaper flour tortillas, like cheap bread, often use unnecessary ingredients as fillers or preservatives. Despite this I've never had a problem finding vegan brands in any grocery store so I'm sure you won't have any problems either.
Hungry for more?
If you love this soup recipe then you might also enjoy my:
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Vegan Tortilla Soup
- 1 tablespoon oil of choice , or sauté with water instead
- 1 medium onion , peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch , (cornflour in the UK). Arrowroot is ok too.
- 28 oz / 796 mls / 3 cups fire roasted crushed tomatoes , or regular crushed tomatoes / passata *
- 3 cups / 720 mls stock
- 3 cups / 2 x 14 oz / 2 x 398 ml cans black beans **
- 1½ cups / 1 x 12 oz / 1 x 341 ml cans sweetcorn **
- 1 tablespoon sugar ***
- 1½ - 2 teaspoons salt , add to taste
- ½ - 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper , add to taste
- 1 lime
For the crispy tortilla strips
- 6 small 5 to 6 inch corn tortillas ****
- 2 tablespoons oil *****
- a pinch of salt
- Put a large soup pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Sauté the onions until just starting to turn golden, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Add the herbs and spices to the pan and allow to toast for a minute or two, stirring frequently, then add the cornstarch. Stir well. It will look lumpy and weird. That's fine.
- Add the canned tomatoes and stir really well, then pour in the stock, beans, sweetcorn and sugar. Stir and bring to a simmer. Keep it simmering away for about 10 to 15 minutes until it's hot and thickened.
- While the soup is simmering preheat oven to 375°F / 190 *C and line a very large baking tray (or use 2 medium ones) with parchment paper.
- Keep the tortillas in a pile, and cut down through them to make long strips about ¼ inch wide. Put the strips in a large bowl and pour over the oil. Toss them around with your fingers until they are all coated then tip them out onto the baking tray. Spread them out into a single layer, ideally with a bit of space around each one. Sprinkle all over with a pinch or two of salt and bake for 12 minutes. Keep an eye on them in the last minute or two in case your oven runs hot and they get too dark. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the tray.
- Once you are ready to serve, take the soup off the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze in the juice of a lime. Give it a quick stir and it's ready.
- You can either add the tortilla strips to individual bowls and ladle the soup over them, or put the soup in the bowls and pile the tortilla strips on top. I like them on top because they stay crispy. Then either pile on the toppings or have the toppings in bowls for everyone to help themselves!
Regular crushed tomatoes or passata will be ok if you can't find fire roasted tomatoes. **If your cans are slightly bigger or smaller that's fine. It doesn't have to be exact. You can also use home-cooked dried black beans and fresh or frozen sweetcorn. ***The addition of a bit of sugar is optional but recommended. It really boosts the tomato-ey flavours and makes a huge difference. ****Flour tortillas are fine too but corn ones have a better flavour and the colour is nicer. 6 is just a guide too. Feel free to make more!
You can also skip making the crispy tortillas strips and just use a bag of salted tortilla chips instead! *****Olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, vegetable oil or sunflower oil are all fine. TOPPING IDEAS
- fresh lime
- crumbled vegan feta cheese
- sliced jalapenos
- fresh cilantro
- sliced green onions
- fresh mango (sounds odd but works!)
- red onions
- hot sauce
- unsweetened coconut yogurt
- vegan sour cream
Cook on high pressure for 4 minutes. You can then do a very careful quick release (cover the spout with a cloth to protect yourself and surroundings). That just leaves the tortilla chips. Either follow my recipe instructions for baking your own or buy a bag of tortilla chips to make life really easy.