summer vegetable tortilla soup

July 31, 2014 § 82 Comments


Grilled bread salad, roasted zucchini with ricotta and mint and tomato pie are a few of my recent posts.  All very delicious and flavorful, however, much time doesn’t need to pass before I find myself spicing things up in the kitchen again. Cooking is like that for me.  It’s very cyclical.  Weeks go by and I find myself preparing  fresh, colorful and delectable foods from the Mediterranean region, like chicken cutlets with tomatoes and capers, tzatziki and cucumber salads. Then my palate shifts.  I start to crave comfort foods, like mac and cheese, roast chicken with mashed potatoes and savory pies.  My poor family, they never know what to expect.  One day we are enjoying a nice subtle quiche and salad and the next I’ve put together a jalapeño ladened vegetable soup.  Pow!  I always return to South of the Border. Mexico. I love Mexican food and I crave it.


For this spicy vegetable soup I used zucchini, summer squash, tomatillos, tomatoes and jalapeño.  We also added chicken and chicken stock, but I think the soup would be wonderful keeping it vegetarian.

I n g r e d i e n t s

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onions
  • sea salt
  •  cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 6 cups mixed fresh vegetables (such as zucchini, yellow squash, tomatillos, jalapeño, tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (or not)

f o r    t h e    t o p p i n g

  • 3 handfuls tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1 cup crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • lime wedges
  • cilantro sprigs

Put the oil in a large soup pot, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium-high heat until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.  Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for another minute or so.  Stir in the tomato paste, add the stock, and bring to a simmer.

Add the vegetables to the stock, starting with the longer cooking ones first, such as chiles and tomatillo.  Simmer for a few minutes and then add the squash and tomatoes, along with 1/2 of the cilantro.  Simmer the soup until all the vegetables are tender, 15 to 35 minutes, depending on what you’re adding and how small you have cut them.  Add the chicken and simmer for another few minutes to heat through.  Taste and adjust with more salt as needed.

To serve, divide the soup amount wide soup bowls and top with the rest of the cilantro, some crushed tortilla chips, crumbled cheese and a drizzle of sour cream.  Let each diner squeeze lime juice over the soup at the table.


This soup is wonderful with loads of fresh vegetables and herbs in a savory broth. Try any combination of vegetables that you like, though be sure to include the tomatoes, which helps flavor the broth.



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§ 82 Responses to summer vegetable tortilla soup

  • Shari says:

    This soup looks so delicious! I love all the vegetables and the jalapeno in it. I’m like you, I crave Mexican food. I think I could eat it every day and never get tired of it. Thanks for sharing your yummy recipe!

  • Seana,
    I am so much like you when it comes to switching food or cuisine palettes :). One day Indian, another week Thai and then Italian or Mexican. Mexican and Thai are much closer to my heart.
    This is a keeper recipe. Will surely try it soon :).

    • Sonal…hi. I was just fixing a salad (about 30 minutes ago) and I suddenly thought about you and your blog. I think it was because I opened my spice drawer and caught the most wonderful aroma of garam masala. I think it was at the same time you were leaving me a comment! I agree with you about Thai and Mexican…although Indian is very close to my heart these days.

  • Valerie says:

    That is just a gorgeous recipe, so bursting with life.

    But Internet confession time: I know purists would not be happy with me, but I just replace “tomatillos” with “green tomatoes.” Partly because I have a bunch of green tomatoes at any given point in the summer and partly because my palate hasn’t yet been able to sufficiently tell the difference – especially in a medley scenario like this. So, this one is going in my back pocket for the October when I have 8,000 green tomatoes on the vine and frost is a-coming.

    Confession No. 2: I usually just use some light feta – which I can find almost anywhere – when queso fresco or cotija are called for, because it takes some hunting to find them.

    I’m not sure what my penance should be? An afternoon spent at Whole Foods mebbe?

    • Lol! I completely agree with you on both confessions. These are both very good and I wouldn’t even call them substitutions. They are fantastic as an original ingredient. I know what you mean about 8,000 green tomatoes in October! I imagine you most likely have jars and jars of pickled green tomatoes in your pantry! Aw, come on…there are definitely worst things than spending an afternoon at Whole Foods! :)

  • Conor Bofin says:

    Such elegant photography. Lovely soup too.

  • Ngan R. says:

    I love Mexican cuisine, just as much as I love Mediterranean, Italian, and Asian cuisines. I, too, have crazy shifts in my preferences for meals from week to week, and I indulge each of them every time! I love seeing all your varied recipes; no matter where the flavor ends up, you always use seasonal ingredients in lovely ways. Hope you’re having a nice week!

  • My French Heaven says:

    I LOOOOOOVE tortilla soup. Thanks for this! No such thing as a decent South American inspired restaurant around here. This will be most helpful ;)

    • What? No South American restaurants in Saint-Emilion? :) I imagine your time spent in California included some wonderful South American cuisine. Tortilla soup is wonderful…

  • thebrookcook says:

    This looks so delicious & fresh- I’m making it FOR SURE. Thank you!!

  • We both had soup on our minds today. Tortilla soup is a favorite. I like that you added lots more veggies than most recipes have for this dish.

    • Yes! I saw that. :) I have another spicy chicken tortilla soup post on the blog and there really isn’t any vegetables other than potatoes and tomatoes in it. We liked this version. Nice way to use up the garden squash. :)

  • Rörschåch says:

    That soup looks simply wonderful. Wish I wasn’t so hot, or I’d scarf up and entire bowl right now.

  • Patty Nguyen says:

    Mmm…tortilla soup is one of my top favorite soups! Your version looks delightful, Seana! Those avocado chunks are perfect on top!

  • Ok. I gotta try this. Its perfect for this chill right now… And also to fulfill my need for Mexican flavours!!! Nice work. Smiley face

  • This looks absolutely fantastic!

  • ladyredspecs says:

    Seven different dinners, seven different cuisines, but then Melbourne is such a cultural melting pot I think it’s pretty much the norm here. This soup looks delicious Seana, you’ve done it again. I might have to wait until next autumn to make it, no green tomatoes or tomatillos right now

    • One for every night of the week. Interesting Melbourne is a cultural melting pot…just like Seattle. You could have an Ethiopian lunch then head out for a Cambodian dinner. I love that about this town. :)

  • I’m very much the same Seana… my family can’t predict at all what dish will show up on the table each night. It’s good to keep them guessing! :) This soup looks delightful! I’ve never had tortilla soup before, so I’d better hurry up and make this one as I’m sure I’ve been missing out big time!

    • Ha! Keep them guessing. One of my favorite questions of the day coming from my teenage son is “What’s for dinner mom?” It always makes me smile. And now that his palate has matured it’s much easier to put dinner together. I used to be a short order cook. Yes, I was one of those moms…spoiled him. :) Thank goodness he turned out to be a good eater! Eats everything now…whew!

  • I adore tortilla soup, the first time I tasted it was in Dallas on a business trip, I stayed at the Mansion at Turtle Creek and they had the best tortilla soup, ever since then I order it every time I see it on the menu and am often disappointed, I love your recipe, have never made it myself but will try,

    • Oh wow. I was intrigued with the Mansion at Turtle Creek so I googled and oh my! What an elegant place. Their online dinner menu is spectacular. I’m so curious about their tortilla soup recipe. I have made tortilla soup at least 40 times and I am always changing it up trying to find a good combination. My favorite ingredient is turnips. I’ll keep on. :)

  • Your soup looks wonderful. A perfect summer soup, Seana :)

  • Delicious summer soup…very nice idea

  • Saskia (1=2) says:

    I’m with you – cyclical cooking is constant in our house too (mind you that has a lot to do with Melbourne’s unpredictable weather – earlier today we had ‘snow rain’, and right now it is sunny)! I have never made a Mex soup, and I’m sure my boys would love it, especially with those toppings. Looks delicious!

    • Snow rain and sun! Love unpredictable weather. Shakes things up a little. A Mexican soup is a great way to use up the left over roasted chicken (1=2 concept) :) Still thinking about your Barry Gibb doll! It’s brilliant Saskia.

  • Amanda says:

    Ha I do the same thing. I love the changeup! You know me and Mexican soups. I can’t get enough. I love how you made it seasonal with the zucchinis. And the lime/cilantro/chip/cotija combo is seriously the best. I love how you’ve been cooking lately. I’m coming over. Me encanta el libro “Como Agua Para Chocolate”!

    • I do know how you love Mexican soups. We share the same sentiment for anything Mexican. :) Awww….what a fantastic novel. When it first came out I went out and bought a copy for several friends. I kept a copy in my book collection for a good 20+ years. Then in a moment of weakness gave it away! Enjoy the weekend, hope you have some extraordinary meals planned. Seana

  • I understand about the cyclical cooking, for sure! I’m on a grilled tortilla pizza binge lately. And I could also eat Mexican for breakfast, lunch, and dinner… What a delicious summer soup!

    • I could easily get stuck on grilled tortilla pizza! Sounds great. Do you just dress a tortilla as you would a pizza and place it on the grill?

      • I spray one side of the tortilla with oil, then grill the one side of it until crispy. I then flip it over and spray the other side, then flip it back over and add the ingredients to the grilled side. Then grill until done. If the bottom is done before all the cheese is melted, I put it on the top rack of the grill and close the lid until it’s melted. Let’s see, I’ve made the standard pepperoni and black olive with marinara sauce, chicken, tomato, basil and mozzarella with a pesto sauce, chicken and artichoke with an alfredo sauce, and taco pizza with refried beans as the “sauce.” The combinations are endless!

      • Oh wow, that’s great! Thank you for sharing. I especially like the sound of your taco pizza. It’s sort of like a grilled tostada! :)

  • Add me to the long list of comments here of people who love Mexican food — this does look luscious! healthy and full of great flavors. You always come up with the best recipes Seana.

  • nancyc says:

    Yum! What a nice summer soup! :)

  • Now you’ve got me craving spicy soup! Actually, I haven’t made soup in an absolute age. And when I read your title I automatically thought you had added Spanish tortilla, as in omelette, to the soup as well. Now, that idea I would never have thought off. I might get to use my sizzler pan after all!

    • That sizzler pan need to be used! And what an idea! Spanish tortilla in the soup. :) I need to make a spanish tortilla…maybe this weekend. I keep checking in with your blog…no posts?

      • Not any more! I’ve stopped blogging. All those days, that I’d mentioned to you about, where I was relishing eating new recipes as they should be served (and not reheated several times after photos) spoilt me. So I’ve quit! Phew.

      • Oh my goodness Johnny. Well, I get it…I really do. I’ll certainly miss your posts. But, you do have a whole library of recipes I have yet to see. I’ll keep visiting (as long as you keep the site up) and gain inspiration from your past! Surely you’ll receive a comment or two from me. Thank you for reading my stuff. :)

      • Oh, and here’s to food served hot! Cheers!

  • Liz says:

    nice cutting board! Your soup looks so so good.

    • The soup was a nice change up from the countless salads we’ve been eating lately. Always like spiking up the heat, even if it’s hot outside. Thank you re the cutting board. It’s my most used piece of equipment in the kitchen!

  • hellotofit says:

    Mm, mm mm! Love a hearty tortilla soup.

  • saucygander says:

    What a gorgeous soup! Mexican flavours are the best. And surprises – in meals or otherwise – keeps life interesting, right?

  • chef mimi says:

    What a beautiful soup! It’s one of my standby soups for sure, especially with lovely veggies and typically beans. I’ve never thought to use chili powder in the soup, but why not? It sounds lovely!

    • Thank you! I really like to use chili powder in spicy soup. It really gives the broth a nice flavor. This is the first time I used vegetables of various sorts in a tortilla soup. It was lovely!

  • ChgoJohn says:

    This is such a beautifully photographed post and I bet that soup is delicious. It sure looks good. :)

    • Thank you John. Photographs are not my strong point here on this blog! I appreciate your compliment. I have a tendency to (literally) point and click with my little point and click camera. :)

  • wow, hearthy spicy veggies soup, if you add chayote i think i’m gonna eat the whole batch, lol
    great captured too!!!

  • Lilly Sue says:

    Your family does not sound so bad off! :) That keeps things interesting, I bet :) Tortilla soup is so yummy!

  • Seana, another great soup! I am just getting round to make the corn soup (today) and then find there is another flavourful one. I love all the Mexican ingredients & find myself traveling the world by cooking, too: there is such an abundance of great ingredients in summer and interesting recipes from everywhere – see you in the Mediterranean soon again. N xx

    • You speak the truth. It’s so interesting how these days we are able to cook many different ethnic foods. When I was growing up my mom’s adventurous cooking spirit only went so far as taco’s and spaghetti. :) I am so glad to hear you are making corn soup today! I’d love to hear how you did it, and how it turned out…

  • kandee2013 says:

    Since you mentioned your Bread salad recipe … I hafta go search for it now … *stomach rumbling* :)

  • Tortilla in soup…wow I just love to try different cuisines each time am exited about it and this looks fantastic…..

  • Sophie33 says:

    I made it & loved it so much! Like a one pot meal! xxx

  • Love, love , love… May I say it again? This soup is magic, thanks a lot for sharing with us all these original recipes!

  • I can’t believe that I’ve missed so many of your posts, Seana. Life has gotten the best of me lately… it seems that I’m missing out on a lot of beautiful recipes from you! But I’m so happy to be here now, and to see what you’ve shared…
    This is amazing… I could go for the comfort of some soup such as this right about now. It’s lovely. <3

  • My taste buds are yelling at me right now… this looks amazing. I can’t wait to make it + try it! Hope your summer is going well :)

  • […] food.  We have a tendency to get on this kick once or twice a year and it usually involves spicy soups, enchiladas, molé and various other spicy latin influenced […]

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