This thick and creamy tortilla soup with white beans is easy to make, delicious and nutritious, with so much potential for tasty fun toppings. It has an luxuriously thick texture from the tortillas and cream in the broth, and velvety soft white beans. This vegetarian soup is big flavor but can be as mild or spicy as you prefer.
Introducing an easy vegetarian tortilla soup of dreams
Creamy, bean-y, lots of flavor, lots of toppings… this is how we like to do soup around here!
Tortilla soup is a handy way to use up stale tortillas, so I highly encourage you to build your leftover tortilla collection in order to make this soup. Broken tortilla? Odd tortilla from a pack that didn’t get used up? Tortillas in a bag at the back of the fridge that are kind of weird and stale now? Throw them in the freezer, and let them accrue until you have enough for this soup.
(Or just… use fresh ones. That’s cool too.)
This soup can be made with any white beans, but I have been making it with navy (haricot) beans. You can use canned beans or you can cook them from dry. The inconvenient truth is that using beans you cook from dried is a LOT tastier. I wish I didn’t have to say that, but it is what it is.
Ingredient Notes: What you need, what you can swap
- White beans. Any white beans will work but I gravitate towards navy beans (haricot beans). My favorite way to make this is by cooking dried navy beans in the instant pot, and making sure they are super soft and almost breaking down before transferring them into the soup. Canned beans are absolutely fine to use, and I used them for the batch photographed here, but I do find them more al dente and less flavorful.
- Tortillas. This works with old and stale tortillas but you can make it with fresh. White corn, yellow corn, or a bit of both! As you can see, I used white corn tortillas in the soup itself and then yellow corn tortillas to make into strips for the topping.
- Mild diced green chilis bring lots of Tex Mex flavor to the soup, but these cans may be a little tricky to find in Europe. If you can’t get any, look for jarred green chilis or even use a couple of diced fresh green chilis (added alongside the garlic).
- Alongside our more expected spices (chili powder, cumin, coriander) this recipe includes fennel seeds, and I really encourage you to use them. I absolutely LOVE to add fennel seeds to recipes alongside smoky flavors, they really do pack a punch.
- For the chili powder, you can use 3 teaspoons of your favorite chili powder, or smoked paprika if you want to keep it super mild, or a mix of both. I like to use 2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder + 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
- Different beans… While soft, creamy white beans will always have my heart, I am aware that they aren’t typical for Mexican or Tex Mex recipes. You can swap in pinto or black beans if you like. If you’re using black beans, I would suggest rinsing them well so that they don’t muddy the color of the soup too much.
- Make it cheesy… A few handfuls of vintage cheddar cheese in the broth (added at the same time as the cream) adds amazing rich flavor. Just grate the cheese off the block yourself – the pre grated type won’t emulsify into the soup as well.
This soup was made for toppings…
This soup is lovely and all, but the toppings will make or break it! While I kept things a little minimal for the photos, I would say that in real life you can’t have too many toppings. So raid your fridge and see if you can conjure up as much of this goodness as possible:
- Chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
- Grated cheese (accidentally left off the photos but not optional in my books)
- Sour cream
- Avocado slices or cubes (not in the photos because I’ve had bad luck with my avos lately but definitely recommended if you have one at the right ripeness!)
- Pico de gallo or just some sliced cherry tomatoes
- Sliced black olives
- Green onions
- Sliced fresh chili
More with White Beans
If eating more beany goodness is on your to-do list, let me help! I have bean recipes to cover every genre, and any of these recipes could be made with any type of white beans:
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with White Beans
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 corn tortillas*, roughly chopped into small squares
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
- 2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika, or more chili powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 can diced green chiles, drained, not rinsed
- 14 oz (400 g) canned diced tomatoes
- 3.5 cups (800 ml) vegetable stock or broth
- 2.5 cups (450 g) cooked white beans, if you're using canned, this is 2 cans worth
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) heavy (double) cream
- 2 tbsp cilantro (fresh coriander), finely chopped (stems and all)
- 2-4 additional corn tortillas, cut into strips
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- grated cheese
- quartered cherry tomatoes
- cubed or sliced avocado
- chopped cilantro (fresh coriander)
- sour cream
- In a large saucepan or deep casserole dish, heat a little olive oil and saute the onion on a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and mix for another minute or two until fragrant.1 onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Add the fennel seeds. Mix through for about 30 seconds, until the scent fills the air.1 tsp fennel seeds
- Add a little more oil in the pan if it's starting to dry out, then add the roughly chopped tortillas (NOT the strips – save these for later) and the remaining dried spices. Mix through until everything is well coated and the spices are fragrant, about 1 minute, then move on quickly to the next step.4 corn tortillas*, 2 tsp ancho chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander
- Add the white beans and the drained green chili. Mix through.2.5 cups cooked white beans, 1 can diced green chiles
- Add the canned tomatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes, or until the tortillas have broken up and disintegrated into the soup. Stir regularly. You can use a potato masher to encourage the tortillas and some of the beans to break up too – this will contribute to a creamier texture.14 oz canned diced tomatoes, 3.5 cups vegetable stock or broth
- While the soup is simmering, lightly fry your tortilla strips until they are just crisping up. Place on a paper towel and set aside until it's time to serve.2-4 additional corn tortillas
- Once the soup has achieved the right texture, taste it and add more salt and pepper if you wish.
- Remove from the heat, and add the cream and cilantro to the soup. Stir through.1/3 cup heavy (double) cream, 2 tbsp cilantro (fresh coriander)
- Serve with the crispy tortillas and lime wedges to top, plus any additional toppings you want to use.1 lime