1medium red onion, sliced (reserve a few slices for serving, optional)
3medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1jalapeño chile, seeds and ribs removed, diced
2teaspoonschili powder(see notes)
1small bunch cilantro, stems roughly chopped; leaves chopped and reserved
28ouncescanned crushed tomatoes, with juices (see notes)
2cupsyellow or white tortilla chips, slightly crushed to fit in the measuring cup, plus more, whole chips to serve (see notes)
big pinch white or raw sugar(optional, but balances the acid content)
kosher salt and ground black pepper
whole tortilla chips
reserved chopped cilantro leaves
cotija or queso fresco cheese, crumbled
reserved red onions, diced
Heat olive oil in a 4 qt Dutch oven or soup pot (that has a lid) over medium until shimmering. Add the onions and saute until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, jalapeños, and cilantro stems and cook until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so). Sprinkled the cumin, chili powder, and a big pinch of kosher over the vegetables and mix to blend. The vegetables should be quite fragrant.
Pour in the tomatoes and broth, followed by the crushed tortilla chips and the sugar, if using. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to medium to maintain a low simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
Use an immersion blender right in the pot to puree the soup until smooth. (You can also use a regular blender, working in batches if need be. Take care to use a towel to cover - and hold down - the blender lid, in case pressure from the heat dislodges the lid.)
Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed, then stir in about half of reserved chopped cilantro leaves. Ladle into individual bowls, and slide in tortilla chips along one side of the bowl. Top with your favorite toppings, and serve.
Chili powder: use your favorite here (if you have one ;) ). I usually go for flavor over heat; so, mild New Mexico chile versus, say, chipotle (which would be lovely for smoky/spicy heat).Tomatoes: I call for canned tomatoes here, because they're fairly reliable, but you can substitute about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes. Winter tomatoes are a tough lot, though (flavor-wise). I would skip standard tomatoes altogether, and choose either cherry tomatoes, or Campari tomatoes. Campari tomatoes are quite tasty for winter tomatoes - you'll usually find them packaged on the vine in plastic clamshells. Why is on-the-vine important? Tomatoes that are still on the vine - or at least that still have their green stems attached - stay fresher longer than when that stem scar is exposed. Winter tomatoes make quite the journey to get from the fields to your store, so anything that preserves freshness is a good thing. If using Campari tomatoes, remove the cores. Cherry tomatoes can be used as-is. If you're in Cincinnati, I've become quite fond of a company called 80 Acres Farms, who grows a specific cultivar of cherry tomatoes indoors in a vertical farm. Their "Fireworks" tomatoes are quite delicious, and you can find them at Kroger and Whole Foods. Sometimes they're in a separate display, away from the other cherry tomatoes, so, take a look around or ask the produce manager.Tortilla chips: Why tortilla chips vs. corn tortillas? This is entirely personal preference. I'm about to use the word "fresh" relatively speaking, but I think bagged tortilla chips are fresher than the packaged corn tortillas you find at the grocery. Now, if I were making homemade tortillas from scratch with masa at home, I would definitely go with those, but I am just not a fan of the mass-manufactured tortillas. There's nothing saying you can't use them, though. Just be sure to taste the soup and add more salt if needed (as chips are saltier).
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup was originally published on https://soupaddict.com/vegetarian-tortilla-soup/