It wasn’t until the last couple of years, when “proper” Mexican food came to Australia, that I had even heard of tortilla soup. Now it seems that I have been making up for lost time by eating it semi-regularly and making it for dinner guests. It’s one of those low effort and quick dishes that yield impressive results, and who doesn’t want that when they are entertaining?!
This tortilla soup is incredibly easy and weeknight friendly, and so much healthier than the traditional (cheese and meat fest) version! A spicy tomato based broth, made substantial with black beans, is topped with a tumble of crunchy tortilla strips, slices of cooling avocado, herbaceous coriander, zesty lime and a creamy cashew based queso cheese sauce.
This soup is really one of those more-than-the sum-of-its-parts recipes and it is deliciously balanced – I dare you to give it a go! It’s perfect weather for it down here in rainy old Melbourne, but really it’s suitable to serve almost the whole year round… You wouldn’t find me complaining anyway! xx
Chipotle Black Bean Tortilla Soup with Cashew Queso
If you are sensitive to chilli heat, consider just using half a chipotle pepper to start with, or use 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper instead – you can always add more chilli later. I use chipotle peppers stored in tins of adobo sauce, you can find them in gourmet food stores or Spanish / Latin American grocery stores. The soup base will freeze well, but use fresh toppings upon defrosting. Depending on the saltiness of your stock you may need to add a good amount of salt here for the flavours to balance, trust your judgement and adjust to your tastes. If you forget to soak the cashews for the queso you can “quick soak” them in a bowl of boiling water for 10 mins – the queso texture will be similar but the nuts won’t have the same nutritional value that you get with the long soak in cold water. That said, if you have a low quality blender I would recommend you use the long soak method to ensure a smoother sauce.
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Vegetarian Tortilla Soup.
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min
1.5 tsp fine sea salt (+ more to taste)
230g | 1.5 cups cooked black beans (or 1 x 400 g tin, drained and rinsed)
Plenty of ground black pepper
To serve: fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, thinly sliced avocado, lime wedges and cashew queso.
Paprika to garnish, if desired
For the soup: Set your oven to 180C. Cut your tortillas in half and then into thin matchsticks. Toss them on a baking tray with 2 tbls of olive oil and a good pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, cook the onion and garlic with the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat till softened (4-5 min). Add the chilli and spices, and fry for a minute till fragrant before adding the tomatoes and cooking till slightly thickened (5 min). Add half the stock and use a stick blender or traditional blender to puree the soup till smooth. Return to stove, add remaining stock, salt and black beans and bring to a simmer to cook for a further 10 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed. Just before serving add the spinach and cook till wilted (1 min).
Serve hot with a handful of tortilla strips, fresh coriander, avocado, a lime wedge and a spoonful of cashew queso.
The soup base will keep airtight and refrigerated for up to 5 days, or frozen for a lot longer. Toppings are best made fresh.
For the queso: Blend all the ingredients in a high speed blender till completely smooth – 1-3 min depending on your blender. Taste and add more salt and nutritional yeast, if desired. Store in the fridge till needed. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika, if desired. Will keep airtight refrigerated for up to 5 days.