Spicy Tortilla Soup

I’m not traditionally one to enjoy making a soup in the kitchen, but I do enjoy eating one – especially on a cold, winter day (like today).  I also don’t typically equate soups with being very “manly” – but hopefully this version passes the “man test” and is worthy to be posted on my blog.  I used lots of bold flavors and spicy peppers and I hope you enjoy it if you decide to try it at home.

First, I went to store and bought a bunch of fresh vegetables that I thought would go well in a tortilla soup.  While I don’t know a lot about tortilla soup in general, I did have a good idea of the basics.  Also, you may (or may not) know that my primarily method for cooking includes lots of experimenting and tasting as I go.  I don’t typically follow a recipe or use exact ingredients or measurements. I think that’s boring and lame.  If you decide to duplicate my tortilla soup, keep that in mind.  I didn’t have a well thought out plan when I started.  It just evolved as I went and the end result was fantastic.  Try to do that same. Have fun. Go Slow. And enjoy some wine while your cooking.

For my fresh vegetables, here’s what I picked up:

I also picked up some corn, which I drained and placed in a dish.  I definitely wasn’t sure how much corn I would use and I’m still not entirely sure how much I ended up using.  If I had to guess, I probably used about half of the can.  For me, I don’t think you need a ton of corn in your soup, but I figured I’d start with a smaller amount and add more later if I felt I like needed it.  I also used the left over corn to make a corn and black salsa.

I also drained the black beans and placed them in a bowl as well.  However, I kept about half of the juices from the beans in a separate container because I wanted the juices for the soup.  I don’t think you necessarily have to use black beans either, I just thought the colors would contrast well with the other ingredients.

I wanted to use tomatoes as the base for my soup, so I picked up a can of Pomodori tomatoes that were already peeled and came with a lot of liquid in the can.  The can that I bought weighed 1lb and provided a really good liquid base.

Next, I began cutting up the vegetables to prep them for sautéing on the stovetop.  I made a point to cut my vegetables on the large side because I thought it would translate better  and be easier to eat.  However, you can obviously cut your veggies however you want.  Pictured below: onions, Serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, yellow bell peppers, red bell peppers, and habanero peppers.

Once my veggies were chopped up, I sautéed everything together in a pan in olive oil over medium high heat.  I made sure to not cook everything too thoroughly because I planned to let everything stew for an hour or so while cooking the chicken in the oven.  You can use your best judgment here, but maybe remove them from the heat while there is still a little “crunch” left to your peppers when you bite in them.  I sampled everything as I went. If they get too soft while sautéing then it may not be ideal… because they will only continue to soften once combined with the base.

Once I was  done sautéing my vegetables, I combined them with my base – still on low heat.  I also stirred everything up (including the olive oil and juices from sautéing vegetables) and added some southwestern seasonings.  I chose Texas chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  I wanted to keep it simple and make sure I could taste as many flavors from the vegetables as possible without masking those flavors with cheap seasonings.  So be careful here – you cannot easily undo it.  Remember, you can always add more later. I also added a couple of teaspoons of olive to help cut back on the acidic taste of the tomatoes.

Next, I fried up 4 chicken legs on the stove stop (also in olive oil).  I didn’t use any seasonings. I mainly just wanted to brown the outsides before putting in to the oven but you can cook the chicken however you wish.  After browning, I put the chicken into a small pan with about 1 cup of water and placed into the oven.

I cooked my chicken on 375 for about 1 hour.  While it was cooking, I took a break an enjoyed some wine and cheese.  The wine was a Cabernet and the cheese was a Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I bought the cheese to use on the top of soup when it was finished. It’s a really expensive cheese (about $17/lb) but it’s totally worth every penny.  The wine was much cheaper, but it paired really well with the cheese.

The wine:

Once the chicken was cooked, I removed it from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before removing it from the bone.  I also added the juices from the chicken into the base.


Once cooled, I removed it from the bone and it added to everything else on the stove:

At this point, everything should be nearly ready.  I chose to let everything simmer for another hour before serving, but it’s really up to you.  Right before serving, I crumbled up some chips (varying sizes) and added to each bowel.  I also garnished each bowl with cilantro, cheese and a Serrano pepper.  Mine looked liked this:


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20 Comments on “Spicy Tortilla Soup”

  1. January 27, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    YUM! Your soup looks awesome. Definitely more manly than mine – in a good way though. I will try it! Love the additions of black beans and corns. Sometimes I even throw in leftover refried beans. Love your blog too, keep it up!

    • January 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

      Thanks! Yours look great too. If you try it again, let me know how it goes with the corn and black beans 🙂

  2. zabzaya
    January 28, 2013 at 11:47 am #

    I like that you mention that you don’t use measurement. I rarely do now adays and am always trying to figure out what I did in order to recreate it for a post (I do the migraine trigger recipe blog). The soup looks delicious. I have never tried it with wine. Sounds great. I do recommend a splash of lime for those who are migraine free.

    • January 28, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      I’ll have to try it with lime – that sounds fantastic. I actually meant to garnish with fresh avocado…but I forgot and didn’t realize my mistake until after we had eaten. bummer 😦

  3. January 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    You are making my stomach growl! This is an amazing post, as I realize I need a better camera. Your pictures are so vibrant they literally pop out of the screen. Yum just doesn’t do justice. As with the previous comment, I have been cooking over 35 years and with the exception of baking I really didn’t measure, until I started my blog.

    • January 28, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

      Thanks! I just use my iPhone 5 to take the pictures as I’m cooking. Nothing too fancy but the camera is pretty good. I do edit them after I pull them off my phone though – so that is probably what you are noticing. Making them pop is exactly the feel I’m going for… I try to make them feel as “alive” as possible to make the connection between the food and the experience. Thanks again!

      • January 28, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

        I use my cell phone too, except I have a blackberry and I edit also. I’ve been fighting going with a touch screen as I don’t like them very much, but your post may have convinced me to trade in my crackberry.

  4. January 28, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    It really doesn’t matter too much what you use as long as the camera has a high enough megapixel count (like the iPhone 5). Even the iPhone was not great and I’ve recently upgraded. Having an eye for lighting is also pretty essential too but that’s a given. For editing, I’ve found that Pixlr-o-matic is a good, easy program. So I’m not technically editing in the since that I’m trying to crop anything out. I take the pictures as I want them to appear on the blog. I use Pixlr-o-matic more as a way to apply filters (similar to uploading to Instagram). I’m mainly most interested in enhancing the colors and making things appear as vibrant as when you’re looking at the food in person.

  5. January 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    I love tortilla soup and yours sounds delicious…especially for this time of the year.

  6. zabzaya
    January 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    If you don’t suffer from headaches and are worried about trigger foods, I used to make it even better. Like the tomatoes and fresh jalapeños (or similar pepper) just like in your recipe. I like the addition of beans which I haven’t tried much and is unfortunately a trigger. Traditionally, I like mine with a lot of chicken broth, cilantro, lime and yellow squash. Also pickled jalapeños can add a nice flavor. The addition of avocado sounds perfect. It is such a wonderful soup and yours sounds fabulous.

  7. zabzaya
    January 28, 2013 at 7:49 pm #

    There are so many wonderful ways you can make tortilla soup.

  8. rosekat08
    February 1, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    I have to admit I was kinda drooling while reading this. Looks manly-yummy.

  9. February 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

    This looks great! Tortilla soup is one of my favorites. I often use salsa and chicken broth as the base.

    • February 4, 2013 at 9:06 pm #

      I thought about using chicken broth and I’m certain it probably helps cut out some of the acidity from the tomatoes. Maybe next time ill experiment with that.

  10. February 4, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    Still gets better looking everytime I look at your pictures!

  11. February 5, 2013 at 2:16 pm #


  12. February 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    I’m so grateful you chose to follow my blog or I probably would never have found your fantastic blog. I love the pictures and your food looks amazing. I look forward to browsing your blog in detail and checking out all the fabulous recipes. I see you also have Delicious Magazine as your theme. I really like it but it took me awhile to get used to all the bells and whistles. Hope you enjoy my blog. Please let me know if you actually try anything. I would appreciate your feedback.

  13. brahmsandcupcakes
    February 19, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Whoa, this looks delicious! I LOVE tortilla soup and love anything spicy. Can’t wait to try this!

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