Tortilla Soup
Photo: Victoria Pearson
The origin of Tortilla Soup may be south of the border, but the intriguing flavor has long made it a California favorite. Among the smoky spices, soothing tomato broth and pile of fixings, what's not to love? While there are many variations, it's the ground tortillas that give the soup a unique thickness and flavor. Simple to prepare, skip straining this blended soup for a more rustic presentation. If you want to add protein, top with shredded chicken or black beans.

Makes 8 cups


  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves, chopped
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups fried corn tortilla strips, plus more for serving
  • Cubed avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and lime wedges, for serving


Coat a soup pot with the oil and put over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic. Cook and stir until the onion begins to soften but not brown, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and oregano. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes or until the spices become fragrant, taking care not to burn. Pour in the diced tomatoes and broth. Simmer until the tomatoes thicken slightly, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a boil. Add the tortilla chips. Simmer until the chips soften and break down into the soup, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Working in batches, ladle the soup into a blender, filling it no more than halfway. Puree for a few seconds until completely smooth; be sure to hold down the lid with a kitchen towel for safety. If you have an immersion blender, this is a great time to use it.

If desired, pass the soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a terrine or other pot, pushing the solids with the back of a wooden spoon. Discard the vegetable pieces. Repeat with the remaining soup. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.

Serve the soup with your favorite toppings such as tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, sour cream, shredded cheese and fresh lime.

From The Lemonade Cookbook by Alan Jackson and JoAnn Cianciulli. Copyright © 2013 by Alan Jackson and Joann Cianciulli and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press, LLC.

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