Vegetarian (or not) Tortilla Soup

I love delicious soup in the winter.  Unfortunately my husband thinks that soup is only really suitable for lunchtime, probably because pretty much every soup I make is vegetarian (though I have branched out to chicken broth).  So Sunday lunch is often time for soup at our house.  Yesterday I decided to make an old favorite, a simple tortilla soup that can be assembled quite quickly.  Even better, the base for the broth can be made up to a few days ahead and reheated for about five minutes with the final ingredients and it still tastes good!

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Adapted from Epicurious

4 generous servings

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion (about a cup)

4 cloves of garlic

1 red bell pepper

2+ tablespoons of tomato paste

1 teaspoon cumin

1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika

3/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne (if you’re not using the optional jalapeno later)

4 cups broth (I’ve used both vegetable and chicken broth and they both taste good.  Just make sure you like the flavor of the broth you use)

Salt  (I use about a teaspoon because I love salt and the broth I use isn’t very salty.)

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro plus more to garnish

4 6-inch corn tortillas cut into 1/2 inch strips

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed  (I’ve also used pinto and they are quite delicious)

1 small zucchini, diced

1 medium jalapeno (or use cayenne above)

sour cream or plain yogurt, cilantro, lime, and tortilla chips to garnish

1. Saute the onions, garlic and red pepper until onions are soft.  Add spices and tomato paste and mix until tomato paste is well-distributed.  Add broth and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  At this point you can set aside the broth for later, combine the ingredients with an immersion blender (I like the thicker broth that results, but Zach prefers it unblended) or move right along to step 2.

2.  Add tortillas, tomatoes, beans, zucchini and jalapeno if using.  Taste the broth and adjust seasonings according to your preference.  I usually add some black pepper and a little more smoked paprika.  Simmer until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.  One time Zach added some leftover chicken to his portion, and he liked it.  I also added a can of corn once and it was pretty good, but the soup seemed a little busy.

3.  For garnish, add a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt, a dash of lime juice, and some cilantro.  Serve with (in progressive degrees of unhealthy) more tortillas, tortilla chips, or plain cheese nachos straight from the toaster oven.

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