Nothing beats the warming flavors of sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup). Crispy strips of corn tortillas are covered with a tomato and chile-infused broth and finished off with garnishes like lime, avocado, crema, and cheese.
We'll wait while you clean up your drool!
If you like bold flavors and tasty leftovers, you're in luck today! Sopa de tortilla is a popular dish all over the world, and we're excited to share our take with a plant-based and gluten-free version of this classic soup.
What is sopa de tortilla?
Sopa de tortilla (tortilla soup) is a traditional Mexican soup made with fried corn tortilla strips that are drowned in a tomato and pasilla chile broth.
Herbs like Mexican oregano, bay leaves, and epazote may be added in to create a unique taste and aroma.
You can usually find fried pasilla chiles, avocado, cheese, and Mexican crema accompanying this soup.
The end result is full of crunchy and creamy textures. The broth is lightly spiced and garlicky with hints of smoke and sweet raisins.
Mexican tortilla soup is easy to prepare, flavorful, and perfect for leftovers. Enjoy a bowl for lunch or dinner any time of the week!
Is sopa de tortilla vegan?
Sopa de tortilla is generally made with chicken broth and cow's milk-based queso and crema. Occasionally, shredded chicken or pieces of chicharrón (pork rinds) are also included.
To make this recipe vegan, we swapped in a vegetable broth in place of chicken broth. We also used vegan mozzarella instead of panela cheese. And we topped it off with our homemade cashew crema.
We decided to leave out any meat alternatives so it would be extra quick and easy to make, but you could always add in shredded jackfruit or oyster mushrooms for a heartier meal!
Tlaxcala is thought to be the birthplace of sopa de tortilla since the word Tlaxcala translates to "maiz land" in the Nahuatl language.
This region is also the place corn tortillas originated, so it seems only fitting that a soup was made with them!
As the story goes, sopa de tortilla came to fruition based on the need for easily digestible food with ingredients available in the area.
The evolution of tortilla soup seems to have happened when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mesoamerica. This adds up since early written recipes call for cheese and crema, both of which were brought over from Spain.
This soup highlights unique ingredients coming together to create a dish that encompasses both cultures and cuisines.
Serve sopa de tortilla hot off the stove for lunch or dinner. Fill your bowl with crispy strips of tortillas, ladle in your broth, and add toppings like lime juice, avocado, vegan mozzarella cubes, cilantro, and cashew crema.
Serve your vegan tortilla soup with a glass of agua fresca to cool off between slurps. Some of our favorites include:
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: you can't skip the slightly sweet, toasty, and nutty flavors of corn tortillas — especially since they're what this dish is named after. Crunchy strips of tortillas add bulk to the broth, bringing both texture and flavors to each bite.
Health: corn tortillas are relatively low in calories, and they're also naturally gluten-free. Plus, they're a good source of fiber and magnesium, both of which help in the overall functioning of your heart and blood vessels.
Taste: with a fruity, earthy, and slightly smoky flavor, pasilla chiles are the typical chile called for in sopa de tortilla. Frying them in a little oil helps draw out the flavors to make an extra tasty broth. Don't forget to save some for a garnish at the end!
Health: containing a powerful compound called capsaicin, pasilla chiles have the ability to reduce inflammation, promote heart health, and even help us burn more calories.
Taste: forming the base of the broth is tangy, juicy, and slightly sweet Roma tomatoes. Once blended and cooked down, their fresh flavor creates an irresistibly delicious broth.
Health: tomatoes are filled with nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, and many other compounds that help make up vitamin A. So, you could say tomatoes help your heart, skin, and eyes all at once. That's pretty impressive!
Taste: finishing off the broth is a Mexican herb called epazote. This green provides quite a unique flavor profile of oregano, anise, citrus, and mint all mixed together. It's an acquired taste, so we always like to start with a small amount and go from there.
Health: epazote isn't just for flavoring — it's actually packed with medicinal properties. In fact, epazote has historically been used to relieve flatulence, treat parasites, and help with stomach cramps.
If you have questions about this vegan tortilla soup recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: cut the seeded pasilla chiles into thin rings, then fry them and the arbol chiles for about 30-40 seconds, or until fragrant. Note: reserve about ⅓ of the cooked pasilla chile rings for the end!
Step 2: blend the cooked chiles, tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, Mexican oregano, and 2 cups of vegetable broth until the consistency is smooth.
Step 3: transfer the leftover oil to a stockpot over medium heat, then pour the salsa in through a mesh strainer. Let it season for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Step 4: pour in the rest of the vegetable broth, bay leaf, and sprigs of epazote. Stir to combine and turn the heat down to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Step 5: cut the tortillas into thin strips and fry them in batches until golden brown and crispy. Transfer the strips to a paper towel-lined plate while you cook the rest.
Step 6: to serve, add a handful of tortilla strips to a bowl followed by a few ladles of broth. Top the bowl with cubed avocado, cubed vegan cheese, pasilla chile rings, lime wedges, cashew crema, and cilantro. Happy eating!
There's nothing better than leftovers since the flavors have more time to meld together. Follow these steps to ensure your tortilla soup recipe stays fresh!
By using airtight glass containers, your soup will last for up to 5 days in the fridge (we find the flavors stay locked in best this way). Just make sure to store the broth and tortilla strips separately from each other.
Tortilla soup should keep in the freezer for a solid 3 months. We use freezer-safe bags, glass containers, or mason jars. Whichever container you use, leave some room at the top for expansion.
Similar to storing in the fridge, keep the tortillas separate from the broth so they don't turn soggy.
When you're ready for soup again, thaw it overnight in the fridge. When it's thawed, heat it in a saucepan over low-medium for 3-5 minutes.
💭 Tips & variations
We'd like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this sopa de tortilla recipe:
- Add jackfruit. To achieve the chicken texture found in some Mexican tortilla soup recipes, try adding pulled jackfruit to your broth.
- Skip the epazote. If you can't find epazote (or dont like the taste), use cilantro or skip it altogether.
- Increase the heat. If you want a spicier broth, add more arbol chiles, serranos, or habaneros to the broth.
- Roast the veggies. For a smokier broth flavor, roast your veggies before adding them to the blender.
- Change the herbs and spices. We love the taste of Mexican oregano, but feel free to add in other seasonings you enjoy like cumin, coriander, or paprika.
- Thicken the broth. Although not the most traditional approach, blending the broth with a few tortillas makes a thicker and more filling version of tortilla soup.
🍴 Tasting notes
A vegan tortilla soup is the perfect way to warm up on cool days. It's:
If you try this sopa de tortilla recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Sopa de Tortilla
- Mesh Strainer
- 4 tablespoons olive oil ($0.44)
- 3 pasilla chiles, de-stemmed & seeded ($0.12)
- 2-3 arbol chiles, de-stemmed & seeded ($0.04)
- 6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped ($0.96)
- ½ white onion, roughly chopped ($0.12)
- 3 large garlic cloves ($0.12)
- ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano ($0.02)
- 6 cups vegetable broth ($0.36)
- 1 bay leaf ($0.01)
- 2-3 sprigs epazote ($0.02)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- ~16 corn tortillas, cut in strips ($0.32)
- Neutral vegetable for frying
- Vegan mozzarella cubes
- Avocado cubes
- Vegan Mexican crema
- Chopped cilantro
- Lime wedges
- First, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium. Cut the seeded pasilla chiles into thin rings using kitchen shears, then add them to the skillet along with the arbol chiles. Fry for 30-40 seconds, or until fragrant.
- Note: reserve about ⅓ of the cooked pasilla chile rings for garnishes.
- In the meantime, add the tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, Mexican oregano, and 2 cups of vegetable broth to a blender. Add in the pasilla and arbol chiles and mix on high until smooth.
- Transfer the leftover chile cooking oil to a stockpot over medium heat. Pour the salsa through a mesh strainer into the pot and let it season for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the rest of the vegetable broth, bay leaf, and sprigs of epazote. Stir to combine and turn the heat down to simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
- Heat about ~1 inch of neutral oil in a deep saucepan or skillet over medium. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and fry in batches until golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per batch.
- Transfer the strips to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Continue this process until all the strips are gone.
- To serve, add a handful of tortilla strips to a bowl followed by a few ladles of broth. Top the bowl with cubed avocado, cubed mozzarella, pasilla chile rings, lime wedges, cashew crema, and cilantro. Happy eating!
- If you’d prefer not to fry the tortilla strips, try baking them or using an air fryer!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes (calories also don't include the frying oil).
- Nutritional information is a rough estimate.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more Mexican soup recipes, check out our:
- Black bean soup for a flavorful recipe that's high in protein, full of fiber, and makes for great leftovers.
- Fava bean soup to try a filling Mexican dish with a base of creamy fava beans, fresh vegetables, and tasty herbs and spices.
- Pozole rojo for a spicy red broth, tender hominy, and oyster mushrooms all packed into one bowl. Don't forget the toppings!
- Sopa de lentejas to try a soup filled with hearty lentils and vegetables like celery, carrots, onions, and garlic.
If you can't find pasilla chiles, ancho chiles make a great substitution in this Mexican tortilla soup. Although their spice levels differ, both flavor profiles are closely related.
Yes, dried epazote works instead of fresh epazote in this recipe. Use about 1 teaspoon in place of a few sprigs of the fresh herb.
Yes! If you'd prefer not to fry your chiles, toast them in a dry pan, then rehydrate them in a pot or bowl of hot water for around 15 minutes.
For the tortilla strips, you can bake them with no oil or air fry them with less oil. It's up to you!