This Vegetarian Tortilla Soup (actually, it’s vegan, too!) is a delicious, healthy, veggie-packed, gluten-free recipe that’s perfect for cold weather. It’s packed with sweet potatoes and black beans, with a special ingredient added to help thicken it.
I especially love eating this tortilla soup around the holidays, partially because I LOVE Mexican food at this time of year (it’s such a Texas thing) and partially because it’s so flipping healthy!
Oh, the holidays. A time of joy. Of songs. Of children’s laughter. Of presents. Of magic and sparkly things.
It’s easy to feel a bit weighed down during the season, despite its songs and magic and sparkly things. Cookies here, cookies there, leftover gravy and potatoes and ham and eggnog…
Recipes like this healthy (but hearty) vegetarian tortilla soup are perfect to get you a big dose of veggies that you need to detox from all the holiday cheer.
There are so many great flavors and textures in this vegetarian tortilla soup. It has sweet potatoes (and LOTS of them) and black beans as the base, as well as bell peppers, jalapeños, onion, garlic, corn, and tomatoes.
It’s further flavored with smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, and cayenne pepper, with lime juice and cilantro stirred in at the end to brighten it up.
And there’s a super special secret (well, not so secret if I’m blogging about it…) ingredient, too. Masa (corn flour) is added to the soup to both give it a toasty corn flavor to help thicken it. It’s such a great trick I learned from Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe.
The other thing that helps thicken the soup, if you cook it long enough, is the sweet potatoes.
The longer the sweet potatoes cook, the softer they will become. And if you cook them for enough time, they will disintegrate into the sauce a bit (like in this chicken, sweet potato, and black bean stew) to help thicken it.
If you want your sweet potatoes to be more intact (like in these photos), don’t cook them for as long. It’s as simple as that.
I go back and forth with whether to peel the sweet potatoes. The skins are TOTALLY edible, and have lots of nutrients and fiber in them.
But sometimes you just don’t want to deal with biting into a sweet potato skin, you know? And I KNEW my toddler wouldn’t go for the skins. So I went ahead and peeled these, even though I hate peeling potatoes with the fire of a thousand suns. Parenthood is such a sacrifice.
You can leave the skins on if you prefer. Just make sure to give them a good scrubbing with a vegetable brush.
And then, there are the fixings. No tortilla soup is complete without the fixings.
First: you MUST have tortilla chips. I usually just grab a bag from my pantry and sprinkle some in. But if you want to get all fancy (like I did for the sake of these photos), you can easily make your own homemade tortilla chips.
Just cut a few corn tortillas into strips, mix with some olive oil and salt to coat each piece, then lay them out on a parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 375 for about 10 minutes until they’re crispy. Easy peasy!
Although, full disclosure: when I made my chips, I left them in for just a little too long and almost the entire batch completely burned. I was able to salvage a few for this photo. So word to the wise: keep an eye on them! They cook up really fast.
For even MORE healthiness, I tried to keep the toppings I used plant-based. Chopped red onion, sliced avocado, extra lime and cilantro, with the tortilla chips sprinkled on top. Yum yum.
You can add sour cream (or Greek yogurt), grated cheese, hot sauce, or if you’re an omnivore, chopped bacon (!) to the top, if you want. It’s like topping chili. There are so many options, and the fixings are arguably the best part!
Another bonus for this tortilla soup recipe: you can make this ahead of time and reheat when it’s time to eat. You can also freeze the leftovers for another quick and easy meal. And it makes a ton!
If you like this vegetarian tortilla soup recipe, you’ll love these Quick and Easy Vegan Black Beans and Rice, these Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas, this Tex-Mex Tortilla Casserole, and this Mexican Roasted Zucchini.
For more vegan soup goodness, try this vegetarian split pea soup.
Here’s the printable recipe. Enjoy!
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and diced (leave seeds in if you want it spicy)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 large sweet potato peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes (about 3 cups)
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 6 cups vegetable stock or chicken, if you aren’t vegetarian
- 15 oz. canned fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup masa (corn flour) diluted in 1/4 cup water
- 3 cups cooked black beans or two 15 oz. cans, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups frozen corn
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- juice of one lime
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, tortilla chips, and lime wedges for serving (grated cheese, hot sauce, and sour cream is also delicious on top)
- Heat olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onion, red bell pepper, and jalapeños. Sauté until soft and starting to brown (about 5 minutes)
- Add garlic, smoked paprika (1 teaspoon), cumin (1 teaspoon), cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon), and oregano (1 teaspoon). Stir to coat and cook for 30 seconds, or until very fragrant.
- Add sweet potatoes and stir to coat.
- Add vegetables stock (6 cups), canned tomatoes, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil.
- Stir in the masa (1/4 cup) diluted in water (1/4 cup).
- Turn heat to low and cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender.
- Add drained and rinsed beans, corn (1/5 cups), cilantro (1/2 cup), and lime juice. Continue cooking for approximately 5 minutes, allowing the beans to warm and for the soup to continue thickening.
- Serve topped with fixings, if desired.
- This soup freezes well in an airtight container for up to 6 months. You can also make it ahead of time and reheat it when you are ready to serve.
- To make homemade baked tortilla chips to top the soup: Cut 6 corn tortillas into small strips. In a bowl, mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt to taste. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until chips are crispy.
- The longer you cook the soup, the mushier the sweet potatoes will be. This may be a good or bad thing, depending on your preference, but a benefit to cooking the potatoes for a long time is that they will disintegrate into the soup and help thicken it a bit.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.