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A huge thank-you to everyone who participated in my last CSN giveaway!  The winner is…

Congrats to KarenB!  Karen please email me and I’ll send out your prize.

Tortilla Soup is a great go-to meal to have in your recipe repertoire for a few reasons… 

  • It’s really healthy (just be mindful of the toppings you use). 
  • It’s easy to make and ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish. 
  • It doesn’t require a lot of chopping – just the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. 
  • Like any 1-pot meal, there is very little clean up.
  • It feeds an army (and freezes well, if you don’t have an army to feed). 
  • It’s cheap and a great way to use up leftover chicken or turkey. 
  • You can easily make it vegetarian by omitting the chicken/turkey and adding another can of beans for more protein.
  • You can customize your toppings to suit your tastes.

That being said, this is actually one meal I don’t really care for.  And I wanted to like it, really I tried to.  It’s the abundance of cilantro (which is one of the things that Mike loves about it) that gets me.  I have to confess, cilantro tastes like soap to me (if you’re interested, here is an interesting article from The New York Times on this subject).  I usually use flat-leaf parsley instead but Mike insists that the flavor of cilantro is crucial in this dish.  Anyway, I make this soup for my hubby, who adores it.  And if he’s willing to sit through a 2 1/2 hour meal in a fromagerie for me even though he doesn’t like cheese, I figure it’s the least I can do.  I wanted to share this recipe on my blog for the other cilantro-lovers out there.  Plus, Mike said my recipe is pretty delicious, rivaling even the Tortilla Soup at a local restaurant where he loves to order it.

Something interesting about Tortilla Soup is that it’s traditionally thickened with tortillas.  My version is thickened with cornstarch because I forgot to add tortillas to my grocery shopping list, and I didn’t have enough of them to use as both a garnish and a thickener.  If you want to thicken the soup with tortillas instead of cornstarch, dry out 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas in the oven.  Once the tortillas are dry, process them into crumbs either with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor.  Add the crumbs to the soup when you add the water and proceed with the recipe.
Tortilla Soup

(Yield:  About 8 servings)

1 TB canola oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
3 oz tomato paste
1 (28 oz) can petit diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 c corn (frozen is fine)
3-4 c cooked, shredded chicken or turkey
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 TB cornstarch mixed with 3 TB cold water (called a cornstarch slurry)
1/2 c to 1 c minced fresh cilantro (more or less to taste)
Salt and pepper

Topping Suggestions:
Crispy Tortilla Strips (see below; or you can use store-bought tortilla chips instead)
Shredded or crumbled cheese (I used a marbled cheese called Colby-Jack)
Greek yogurt
Diced avocado
Thinly sliced scallions or chives
Minced cilantro
Lime wedges, to squeeze on top

Crispy Tortilla Strips:
3 small (about 6-inch) soft corn tortillas, thinly sliced
1 TB canola oil

For the soup:  In a 5-quart pot with a lid, heat the oil on medium heat; add the onion and sauté until starting to soften (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and jalapeno pepper and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute), stirring constantly.  Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaf and cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add 5 c water along with the bouillon cube, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.  Bring the soup up to a boil, then add the corn, cover the pot, and simmer 15 minutes (stirring occasionally).  Add the cooked chicken or turkey and the beans and cook 3 minutes.  Add the cornstarch slurry, bring it up to a boil, and let it boil for 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat, add the cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve garnished with toppings of your choice.

For the crispy tortilla strips:  Preheat the oven to 425F.  Toss the tortilla strips with the oil, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until golden (about 5-7 minutes), giving them a stir every couple minutes so they don’t burn.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. This was a fun and easy recipe.I didn’t have chicken or turkey meat in the house so I used a bouillon mix. It was a tasty soup. Thank you for posting it. Your site is beautiful; I love the wall paper. :)

  2. When I went to Portugal a few years back…I had been made aware that they cooked with a lot of cilantro…that became worrisome to me since I have a hard time smelling it even as I pass the produce isle. Well, Faith, strangely enough, the cilantro must be incredibly different at other points in the world…because I ate several dishes not even noticing the cilantro in the plate!?!
    It’s nice that you prepared a meal for Mike which you don’t care for…I personally rarely do that…I just avoid putting things he’s not crazy about ;o)

    Flavourful wishes,

  3. You are so nice to make this for your hubby. It sounds really good to me. I really like cilantro, love Mexican flavors, and love that it is easy. I think I will definitely have to try it:) Beautiful pics too!

  4. I’m with your hubby on the cilantro loving train, so I’d gobble this up in a heartbeat! Love how easy it is to make.

  5. Yum! This looks so good! Adding it to my list :) We LOVED the BBQ pizza last night – hubby was a happy, happy man :) I think I’ll get to the leftovers before they’re all gone!!

    Have a great weekend, Faith!

    1. Nicole, Yay, I’m so glad you and your hubby liked the pizza! Thanks for letting me know, that always makes my day! :)

  6. I’m with you, Faith. I don’t like cilantro either! I always use parsley instead. I haven’t had this soup since a visit to Mexico 8 years ago! I’d love to try it.

  7. I must really be out of it since I’ve never had tortilla soup, but I’m with Mike on this one. I love everything about this soup/stew and its ingredients, including the cilantro. Perfect for fall, Faith!

  8. Yum! That soup looks delicious – so full of good things.

  9. i’m not lying when i say that tortilla soup is at least a thrice-a-week meal for me. i can make a batch and enjoy it many times. i like your recipe!

  10. Tortilla soup one my favorite winter soups. So many great flavors combine to make a wonderfu soup. Yours looks so delicious.

  11. I loved to way the soup looks! Not that tipical boring soup… not here!!

    Have a great day, and congrats Karen!!

  12. I am a soup fantatic. I have just copied the recipe and I must say that this looks like the BEST recipe for Taco Soup I have ever seen I am trying it next week when I return from my weekend get-a-way!

  13. Ha! I had no idea tortilla soup was thickened with – tortillas! No wonder it tastes so much like a tortilla. I thought they were just used as the topping. All makes sense now. Great recipe Faith & I might just use the cornstarch to thicken mine too :)

  14. Love tortilla soup and the taste of fresh cilantro reminds me of my childhood, maybe that is why your husband likes it so much!

  15. Been hearing a lot about cilantro, probably bc of that news article. But I have to admit – I like it ok, don’t love it. Seems like most people love or hate it but I’m in the middle!

  16. Congratulations to Karen!
    I love the soup…very different from the soup I used to have. I would really love to try!

  17. I love the flavour of cilantro…. This recipe sounds fantastic. I will certainly try it out. Diane

  18. Heavenly Housewife says:

    I’m not much of a soup person, but I love the look of this one cause its got so many yummy goodies in it.
    *kisses* HH

  19. Tortlilla soup is something I’ve always wanted to try. This sounds super easy and full of flavour. We’re opposite at my place….I like cilantro, my hubby does not. I would have to use parsley for my soup but I like that too so we should be OK.

  20. I love the list of reasons u have, and love one pot delights too!!
    Oh hubby must be so happy to have u simmer this, looks so hearty and delish ,all at once!!
    i love both cilantro as well as parsely, both distinct and lovely flavs, i think:-)
    Am hoppn by to the Article!!
    Oh bdw, those salted caramels are jus so gogrgeous gurl!!

  21. Yum, that looks so comforting. Wish I had all the ingredients to make it right this second!

  22. This soup looks delicious. I might leave out the cilantro when I try it, but I think my family would love everything else.

  23. I adore tortilla soup…and I can\’t stand cilantro either! I\’ve heard that the dislike is genetic. And I believe it! My husband loves it, and I can barely eat a Mexican dish if it\’s in there. Thank you for sharing. And thank you for your warm words today on my blog. They mean a lot to me (and to my family)

  24. It’s a shame you don’t like cilantro because the soup really does look fabulous!

  25. This soup looks and sounds delicious. I like to make a big pot of soup on the weekend so we can take soup to work for our lunches. Tortilla soup is one of hubby’s favorites. :)

  26. I’m going to make tortilla soup this weekend! Although I am borrowing Kim’s slow cooker recipe for my “Slow Cooker Sundays”. Either way, this looks and sounds so delicious and I can’t wait to make it! And thanks for the birthday wishes for my niece, she’s just about the cutest thing ever and I can’t get enough of her!

  27. I’m curious about your dislike of cilantro. Do you try to keep it out of everything, even salsa? I can’t imagine salsa without cilantro. But I can’t imagine it without onions either and Biz makes it that way. I like it fine and think it adds wonderful flavor to Mexican and southwestern dishes. Other ethnic dishes too. I will have to try your recipe for tortilla soup–I’ve yet to try one!

  28. Congrats to the winner :)

    I haven’t had tortilla soup in forever. I should make it so I can taste its deliciousness.

  29. Congrats to KarenB, cool prize!

    Fantastic looking soup! Tortilla soup is perfect comfort food, we love it and yours looks so good!

  30. Your soup looks absolutely fabulous too. I love how versatile it is since everyone gets to choose their own toppings. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  31. I’m one of the few who loves cilantro. So I know this soup would make my taste buds dance.

  32. I love soups like this!
    They are so delicious and versatile to what
    you have on hand in your fridge/cupboard.

  33. Tortilla soup is one of my favorites Faith! You’re so sweet for making it for your husband. It looks so delicious and comforting! Wish I had a bowl.

  34. What a great idea Faith! I love Austrian pancake soup and it sounds similar but with a lot of toppings (which I love).

    P.S. I’m so excited, I just entered my Halloween house in your All Through The Year Cheer event! :)

    1. Lorraine, I’m thrilled you entered your Halloween house! It’s eerily adorable! ;)

  35. Tortilla soup is one of our favorites so we’ll have to try this! It looks delicious!

  36. This sure looks delicious! It is supposed to get very cold here over the next few days. Perfect soup weather!

  37. I am NOT a cilantro fan either- ick! But the soup looks so good. I love one pot meals…and anything that makes lots is a winner in my book. Our week nights are so hectic, a good grab and go is exactly what we need. Deliciousness. Congrats to the winner

  38. I love your version! Ben doesn’t like cilantro, so this would be perfect!

  39. I LOVE tortilla soup, but I would definitely substitute something else for the cilantro. It is one of those foods I just can’t like, no matter how much I try!

  40. omg, this looks AMAZING! ;)

  41. Faith,

    You are very kind to cook this for the hubby even though you do nto enjoy it. As cooks we sometimes have to prepare foods that we really do not care for.

    I actually never use parsley. To me it tastes of nothing. Your soup does look lovely. The recipe is spot on. I would gladly take a bowl or two.

  42. congrats to Karen!! :)

    I LOVE tortilla soup… this looks great, and I would like it without the cilantro!! :D

  43. I love tortilla soup! This looks amazing (and what a good wife you are to sacrifice for cilantro!

  44. congrats to Karen and great soup, specially the addition of lime to add some freshness :)

  45. I’ve never had tortilla soup. I’ll have to give it a try as I don’t have any issues with cilantro.

  46. Congrats to KAren! That is a lovely soup. Perfect for using leftover tortillas.



  47. I guess life is full of compromises. I have the same opinion about cilantro so I substitute it with parsley. This indeed sounds a great way to use leftovers and at the same time is hearty and comforting.

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