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Vegan Tortilla Soup

Growing up in Texas, chicken tortilla soup was the best way to get over a cold. It had all the nourishing benefits people love in chicken noodle soup: a delicious clear broth and tons of veggies. The spicy kick and lime were welcome bonuses to help with a stuffy nose and sore throat, and crunchy tortilla strips were infinitely better than soggy noodles. So when I stopped eating meat, I knew I would have to think up a delicious vegan tortilla soup recipe to get me through cold season.

shopping for this vegan tortilla soup recipe

All the ingredients in this recipe are canned, frozen, shelf stable, or something I always have on hand. That’s because this is one of my go-to emergency recipes: something I can make any time in a pinch. But I have also made it with fresh ingredients! If you want to do that, here are my recommendations:

  • Instead of canned green chiles, you can use one poblano pepper and one jalepeño pepper, seeded and chopped. Add them into the pan a little after the onions to get browned, or for even better flavor, roast or grill them before chopping.
  • You can cook your own beans, but don’t do it in the soup broth – you will end up with a thickness you don’t want. If you start with dried beans, you should first soak and then pressure cook them (or boil them separately on the stove). Adding some of the same spices to the beans while they cook will help take the flavor up a notch.
  • fresh corn is always delicious! Just add it very close to the end of the simmer – 10 minutes at most.

a note on tortillas

The perfect tortilla strip can make or break this vegan tortilla soup recipe. There are many different ways to end up with tortilla strips, so I’ve ranked them from best to worst. Go with the best method you can manage.

  1. Buy fresh tortillas and crisp them up in the oven. This is the method outlined in the recipe. I buy fresh tortillas at the grocery store, but you can also get great ones from local Mexican markets and even Taco Cabana! Ask around – I’m sure people in your area will know where to get a great tortilla.
  2. Ready-to-bake tortillas. If you can’t find fresh, this is the next best option. Many groceries stores have shelf-stable tortillas that you can bring home and put on the griddle yourself. These turn out pretty well – just DON’T buy the ready-to-eat packaged tortillas. Those never actually taste like tortillas.
  3. Tortilla chips or strips. As a last resort, you can use a bag of tortilla strips or chips. These won’t be quite the same, but you could always warm them up in the oven with a little oil and salt.

Of course, you could also make your own tortillas from scratch. I’ve tried this many times and have never been very successful, so I stick with the delicious fresh tortillas from H-E-B.

simmering and storing soup

Soup always tastes best when the flavors have had a long time to meld. So while this soup actually comes together pretty quickly, I strongly recommend simmering it for at least an hour before serving. If I have time earlier in the day, I will often make a soup in the early afternoon, turn off the the stove after letting it simmer for a while, and then reheat right before dinner.

To get the BEST flavor out of this soup (and most other soups), you can store it in the fridge for a day or two! The flavors will be absolutely perfect when you heat it back up. This makes it a perfect recipe for entertaining because you can make it days in advance and it will actually be better when the time comes to finally eat it.

serve vegan tortilla soup with…

  • My favorite guacamole. This also makes a great alternative topping instead of plain avocado.
  • Margaritas, micheladas, or limey G&Ts.
  • Extra fresh tortillas!

Vegan Tortilla Soup

Tex-Mex's favorite soup, vegan style. This is the perfect recipe to clear up the sniffles, or to warm up on a chilly day.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8


  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 4.5 oz cans mild green chiles, with juices
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
  • 2 15 oz cans pinto beans, drained
  • 1 12 oz bag frozen corn
  • 3 limes
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or 1/2 tsp if you like it spicy)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the toppings:

  • 10 fresh tortillas
  • pickled onions
  • avocado, sliced


  • Add chopped onion and olive oil to a large pot and sauté over medium high heat until the onions begin to brown (about 10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients: peel and mince garlic, open all the cans, and drain the bean cans.
  • Once the onions are browning, add garlic, green chiles, salt, and all the spices. Sauté this mixture for a minute or so until really aromatic.
  • Add vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, canned beans, frozen corn, nutritional yeast, and the juice of all 3 limes.
  • Turn the heat to medium and cover pot partially with a lid. Simmer for an hour to allow the flavors to combine.
  • While the soup simmers, prepare the tortilla strips. Preheat the oven to 350. Cut tortillas in half and then slice the halves into 1 inch thick strips. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil (I use avocado oil), spread out the tortilla strips, and spray the tortilla strips lightly with oil. Season with 1 tsp of kosher salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy, flipping halfway through cooking time.
  • Serve the soup hot and topped with sliced avocado, tortilla strips, and pickled onions. For those who like it spicy: fresh or pickled jalapeños or a few dashes of hot sauce can kick this up a notch!
Keyword cozy, dinner, mexican, soup, tex mex, tortilla, vegan, vegetarian, warm