Friday, December 3, 2010

Tortilla Soup

Few things are more comforting than a bowl of soup on a chilly day. I'm a California native, so when the temps drop down to the late 50s (wuss, I know) you better believe I'm breaking out the stockpot and whipping up something hot. Soups offer soothing warmth, can be really affordable (cheap even!) and there's minimal clean up afterward. Hell, you might even clean out your fridge. It's a win-win situation. If I had to eat through a feed tube for the rest of my days I would drink nothing but this soup. It's like drinking down a cheesy, chicken tamale.

"Chicken" Tortilla Soup

  • 5 cups faux chicken stock
  • 1 cup cashew cream (recipe follows)
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
  • 2-3 Gardein brand "chicken" breasts or 1 pk of Trader Joes' Chicken-less Chicken Strips, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance or your favorite vegan margarine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh ground cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne or chipotle powder (use more or less to your liking)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Splash of fresh lemon juice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Other garnishes can be sliced avocado or guacamole, fresh fried tortilla strips, fresh corn kernels or pico de gallo


Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Sprinkle bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the margarine and stir until melted, making sure not to let it burn. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the can of tomatoes with its juice, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, onion powder and granulated garlic. Cook for another 2 minutes then add the "chicken" stock and fresh cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. Add in the Gardein "chicken" and tortilla pieces and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cashew cream. Continue to simmer another 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf. Working in batches, pour the soup into a blender (cover lid with towel and hold down tight! Hot liquid can get pretty explosive.) and blend on high for a few minutes until soup is smooth. Pour back into stockpot, add lemon juice, taste for salt, and keep warm until ready to serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with the above mentioned garnishes.

Serves 4-6

Cashew Cream (from Tal Ronnen's The Conscious Cook)

2 cups raw cashews
Cold water


Rinse cashews thoroughly, cover with cold water and place in a container with lid in the refrigerator overnight or up to 2 days. Make sure to drain and add fresh water if keeping for longer than 1 day.

Drain cashews and rinse under cold water. Place in a blender with enough fresh cold water to cover them by 1 inch. Blend on high for several minutes until completely smooth. Use within 5 days. Makes a great substitute for recipes that call for heavy cream.


If you're using small taqueria-style tortillas, use 8 in the recipe. If you find your soup too thick, just thin out with a little more faux chicken stock. Adjust the spices to your liking and taste for salt.

Frozen Gardein scallopini or breasts can be thrown in frozen. Just cook whole until warmed, remove and chop, then place back into the soup. Done and done!

No Gardein in your town? No worries, this soup is still rad as ever minus the mock meats. It would probably rule with seitan too.


  1. this looks delicious... I'm thinking it's a must try! And thank you for the idea of the heavy cream replacer, normally when I see a recipe that calls for heavy cream I just skip it because I've never know what to use as a replacement. Thanks again.

  2. Oh my goodness, you are in for a treat. Cashew cream is the greatest thing ever. I use it in mashed potatoes, in every cream based soup I can think of (cream of mushroom, "clam" chowder, tomato bisque) and it even makes a great whipped cream if you use less water. It is nothing short of amazing! Vegan food rules.