Taking Advantage of my Pantry: Tortilla Soup

All the Soup Toppings: Pie in the Woods

My housemate’s mom likes to clip coupons. A lot. So much so that she has too much food for her own house, and sends the overflow to us. This has been challenging for me, because there is a ton of food to eat, but not much variety, and not things that I am necessarily used to cooking with.

Pantry: Pie in the Woods

Part of this food abundance is a TON of tomatoes.  And as I’m not living with my best friend at the moment (and don’t have to take her tomato-intolerance into account), I’ve been cooking a lot of vaguely Mexican food.  All the ingredients for enchiladas or tacos are already in the house, with the exception of vegetarian beans, which I’ve had to buy.  (There was a very disappointing can of “Vegetable Classics” Progresso black-bean soup [with bacon].  Why did you get my hopes up like that Progresso!?).

Finished Soup: Pie in the Woods

As I have already gone the enchilada route this week, I thought I should branch out a little.    I also wanted something warm and filling because it’s been so cold lately.  So I made this tortilla soup.  It’s quick to make (especially if you use all canned ingredients), is wonderfully warming, and can easily be personalized to your tastes.

Tortilla Soup:Pie in the Woods

Normally I’m all about fresh ingredients, but as I said I was making use of what I had in the pantry.  Feel free to substitute in fresh ingredients, or completely different ones – it’s a very forgiving recipe.

As I prepare this, it’s really more of a stew than a soup (especially after you add all the toppings).  I prefer a soup that requires a good deal of chewing – otherwise it just doesn’t seem satisfying enough to me.  If you like a more soupy soup, you can up the amount of broth to thin it out.


1 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small jalapeño, finely chopped
2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp chili powder
3 cups vegetable broth
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can corn
1 zucchini sliced into half-moons
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional but highly recommended)
Tortilla chips (or fried tortillas)
Sliced avocado
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion and jalapeño until the onions are translucent.  Add the spices and tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

Add the broth, beans, tomatoes (with juice) and corn, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for a few minutes, then add the zucchini and continue cooking for five minutes until they are soft.

To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with whatever toppings strike your fancy.

Serves 4-6


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