When I was a kid, my mom’s chicken tortilla soup was the best thing ever. Flu? Bike accidents? Bad days? There was nothing that this soup couldn’t handle. In that spirit, the recipe we have today builds on mom’s classic flavors with a few twists of my own, like (don’t laugh) replacing the chicken with tofu. Tofu makes a super-delicious meat replacement IF you prepare it correctly, which we’re definitely doing here.
And when I say this soup is creamy, I mean 3x the creamy. First, we’re adding non-dairy milk into the broth to give it a little extra smoothness, then we’re adding cornmeal right into the soup to give it some extra weight and a delicious tortilla flavor, and finally we’ll top it with some cashew sour cream that you probably have leftover from the 7-Layer Dip of last week.
Be careful though, this recipe requires a LOT of preparation, I mean, emotional preparation. You might be able to throw the soup together in an hour, but it could take days to fully prepare yourself for the comforting deliciousness you’re about to experience. Things this good are not for the faint of heart.
Makes 8 servings
- 2 teaspoons each: cumin, corriander, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt
- 16 oz extra firm tofu
- 1 large white onion
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 bell peppers (1 red, 1 green)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (optionally: fire-roasted with green chilies)
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 15 oz cans black or pinto beans
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 1/3 cup cornmeal or masa harina
- 2 handfuls of cilantro
- 4 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1 avocado
- Optional: cashew sour cream (below)
Yes, this recipe has a lot of steps, but it’s actually really simple – there’s a method to the madness here. The total work time is only like 20 minutes with long breaks in between to let these flavors simmer together.
Prepare a batch of our patented tofu tortilla soup spice blend… Combine about 2 teaspoons of each: cumin, coriander, garlic powder, (smoked) paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir together and set aside – we’ll be using this many times in the following steps.
Cut the tofu into long planks and use some paper towels to squeeze out the excess water. Then, rub both sides with a bit of the spice blend, transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 350º for at least 30 minutes (turning after 15 minutes) until golden on both sides. Meanwhile…
In a large stockpot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add a diced white onion. Give that 2-3 minutes to soften before adding 2 cloves of minced garlic and 2 sliced bell peppers. Add about 1 tablespoon of the spice mix directly onto these ingredients to give them some flavor, then let them continue to soften over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and the can of diced tomatoes. I used a can of the fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies (like the Rotel brand) which doesn’t fit the one ingredient guideline, but it’s worth it here, as it adds the perfect flavor.
Then, add all the liquid: 4 cups vegetable broth, 2 cups of water, and 2 cups of non-dairy milk (I like soy here) as well as the 2 cans of beans and 2 cups of corn. Also, throw in another tablespoon of the seasoning.
Leave the heat at medium-low and give this 30 minutes to simmer (uncovered).
Don’t forget about that tofu! After about 30 minutes, the tofu should turn golden brown on both sides, signaling that it is done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then, cut into diagonal strips (or cubes if you want to be boring) and toss them into the soup whenever they’re done.
After 30 minutes, give this soup a taste to adjust spices individually. Spices are everything in this soup, so take the time to get them right. Here’s a guide: if the soup feels too boring, add more paprika and garlic. Too empty, add more cumin and coriander. Too bland, add more salt. Too mild, add more cayenne. And if those descriptions didn’t make sense, just add a bunch of spices and hope for the best!
Also at this time, sprinkle in 1/3 cup cornmeal (preferably masa harina) directly into the soup. This will add a ton of “weight” to the soup, making it feel much creamier with a hint of tortilla.
Give this another 30 minutes (uncovered) to simmer.
At this point, the soup is basically done. Give it another taste and add more spices if needed and turn off the heat while preparing the garnishes:
Slice 4 corn tortillas into 1/2 inch wide strips and throw them right into the soup to soften for a moment. Also, it is essential to add a bunch of cilantro right into the soup, so take a handful, chop it a few times, and throw it in as well.
To serve, transfer the soup to bowls and top with a sprig of cilantro and some avocado slices. You can also take this soup to the next level with some cashew sour cream by blending equal parts raw cashews and water with a pinch of salt and a few drops of apple cider vinegar. Simply blend until smooth and drizzle onto the surface.