Tortilla Soup

by Rachel on September 17, 2010

Super duper soup.

This is one of my father’s best soup recipes and that’s saying something.  He makes GREAT soup all the time.  But, I must admit – this one stands out.  It’s super duper soup.  Friends of mine have been known to drive all the way to Santa Barbara to have my father show them how to make this soup.


  • 2 leeks, whites only, washed carefully and coarsely chopped
  • 2 shallots, medium dice
  • 2 onions, medium dice
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper, medium dice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced


  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of pepper
  • 3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 32-ounce can diced tomatoes or whole plum tomatoes
  • 5 yellow crook neck squash cut in 2-inch pieces (can also substitute summer squash)
  • 12 white or yellow corn tortillas cut into strips, then oven roasted at 350 degrees for approximately ten minutes until they are just crispy
  • 5 dried chilies (optional – see below)


Chopped green onions, salsa, ripe avocado, toasted tortilla strips, or crushed tortilla chips, cut-up cooked chicken, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream or soft Mexican cheese.


Using a large stockpot, sauté the first five ingredients in grapeseed oil or olive oil until lightly golden, approximately 12-15 minutes. Then add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.


Add cumin, pepper, stock, tomatoes, squash and tortillas to the stockpot. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 60 minutes. Use either an immersion blender or a food processor to process the soup until smooth.

Meanwhile, an option for the brave at heart, simmer six dry chilies (Guajillo or California or New Mexico chilies) in a pan of water for 20-30 minutes. Wearing gloves, remove the chilies from the water and manually pull out the stems. Place the stemmed chilies directly in a food processor adding two cups of the liquid in which the chilies were simmered and process until smooth.

Holding a fine meshed sieve over the soup stockpot, place the chili mash into the sieve. Using a large wooden spoon, press down on the mash so that the liquid from the chilies flows into the soup. Do not put the chili mash into the soup.

Taste the soup and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. It will be quite good with or without the chili water. The gloves are an absolute must when working with the chilies.

Serve the soup with some combination of the optional garnishes listed above.

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