Rich and creamy with chunky roasted poblanos, this Healthy Tortilla Soup is a hearty soup to warm up with. Share this Mexican vegetarian soup with a side of guacamole or sliced avocado, crunchy tortilla strips or soft tortillas. This recipe is freezer friendly, vegetarian, vegan and gluten free.
This recipe was first published in October 2014. I’ve given it a fresh update October 2021. The recipe remains unchanged.
A Cozy and Satisfying Creamy Tortilla Soup
Mexican food is my all time favorite food and this soup, I’m completely in love with. It’s creamy, chunky, offers complex and warming flavors and, it’s spicy (!!) … IF you add the optional jalapeños. I do, and my nose and eyes water with every dreamy bite!
Reduce or leave the jalapeños out completely and while the spicy is quelled, the richness of corn, poblanos and tomatoes really stand out. Ether way, this vegetarian and vegan tortilla soup is on rotation during the chilliest parts of the year.
It’s easy to make, so satisfying, creamy-chunky and has all the Mexican food flavors we crave!
Traditional and authentic tortilla soup does not include corn. However, it was at a restaurant in Seattle, Mexico (sadly, now closed), where I discovered this inspired recipe with the help of another delicious recipe I started making years ago from California Pizza Kitchen. This healthy tortilla soup is a hybrid of the two with corn tortillas, corn kernels and roasted poblanos in a rich and creamy tomato base.
The addition of corn and poblanos add so much to this mouthwatering creamy tortilla soup. While the corn tortillas assist in thickening the soup, the corn kernels add a hint of sweet and texture, while the roasted poblanos offer a smoky nuance and hearty texture.
This easy creamy tortilla soup recipe highlights the flavor and silky texture of roasted poblanos. Poblanos, a staple in Mexican cooking, are a mild pepper. Poblanos taste best roasted and peeled as this brings out their smoky flavor and it removes the waxy skin.
Although poblanos are known for their mild flavor, they can offer a bit of heat. So, for this recipe, be sure to remove the seeds and ribs after roasting to tame their sometimes unpredictable heat.
If you’re particularly sensitive to handling peppers, be sure to put on a pair of gloves while handling the chiles. Even though poblanos are considered mild, they can still irritate your skin.
Quick Guide: How to Make Healthy Tortilla Soup
This Mexican tortilla soup recipe comes together pretty quick after roasting and peeling the poblanos. Note that there is some overlap with roasting the poblanos and preparing other ingredients. If short on time, roasting and peeling the peppers a day or two before you need them is an option. Here’s how to make this inspired Mexican vegetarian soup (see recipe card for details):
- First, roast the poblanos in the oven. Once blistered all over, sweat, peel and deseed the poblanos. Chop into bite size pieces.
- Second, pan fry the corn tortillas, add the onion, garlic, spices, vegetable broth, corn and fire roasted tomatoes.
- Next, simmer the soup, then use a blender to puree’ the soup.
- Last, stir in the corn kernels and roasted poblano peppers.
Share healthy vegetarian tortilla soup with your favorite condiments like tortilla chips or homemade tortilla strips, cilantro, lime juice, sour cream, cheese and/or avocado. For added protein, stir in cooked black beans.
A Few Recipe Notes
- Poblanos can be roasted on an open flame on stove top or in the oven. I prefer the oven method for this recipe because it frees up hands for prepping other ingredients.
- This Mexican vegetarian soup calls for minced jalapeños. Since jalapeños can vary in their heat, feel free to omit them or reduce the amount to taste.
- To bump up the protein in this healthy vegetarian tortilla soup, cooked black beans make a lovely addition. Use one can, rinsed and drained added towards the end of cooking.
- Make it Vegetarian or Vegan Tortilla Soup: As written this Mexican tortilla soup is vegan, however feel free to top it with your favorite condiments like sour cream and/or cheese.
- Fresh or Frozen Corn? When in season, opt for fresh off the cob. However, frozen corn works well too! Simply thaw and add to the soup pot.
More Soup Recipes to Love
- Taco Soup – Slow Cooker
- White Bean, Cabbage and Potato Soup
- Vegetarian Corn Chowder
- Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup
- African Peanut Stew
Tortilla Soup with Roasted Poblanos
- 6 (385 grams) Poblano Peppers
- 3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil I like coconut or olive oil
- 4, 6 inch Corn Tortillas cut into 1 inch strips
- 2 Cloves Garlic minced, about 2 teaspoons
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) White Onion diced small, about 1/4 of an onion
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Sea Salt + more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Powder or more chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Pickled Jalapeño Pepper minced (for intense heat – optional)
- 2 cups (300 grams) Sweet Corn divided. fresh, about two ears or frozen thawed
- 28 ounce (793 grams) Can of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
- 4 cups (885 grams) Vegetable Broth
- Fresh Lime
For Garnish and/or Serve With:
- Fried corn tortilla strips (*see note for homemade) or tortilla chips, jalapeño peppers, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, avocados
Roast the Poblanos:
- Set one oven rack to the top of the oven and preheat oven to broil.Arrange the poblanos evenly on a baking sheet. Place the poblanos on the top rack. Using tongs, turn the poblanos about every 2 – 3 minutes for a total of about 9 – 12 minutes, or until they're nice and charred (blistered) on each side. Remove from oven and transfer the peppers to a covered bowl to steam for about 10 minutes (this makes them easier to peel). The peppers will be soft at this point. Peel the skins off the peppers, working the seeds and ribs out with a little bit of running water (this helps them cool as well).Cut into strips, then into bite size pieces. Set aside.
Make the Soup:
- In a 4 quart soup pot or Dutch oven add the oil on medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add the cut tortilla pieces to the hot oil. Stir frequently on medium high until strips are crisp, about 8-10 minutes (a bit of sticking here is ok).
- To the tortilla strips add the minced garlic, onion and optional jalapeño pepper. Saute’ for about 2 minutes on medium, stirring frequently.
- To the tortilla mixture sprinkle in the cumin, chili powders and salt. Add half the corn, tomatoes, tomato paste, and veggie broth.. Bring to a simmer, stir and simmer for five minutes.
- Remove from the heat and using an immersion blender (or blender), blend until soup is smooth and creamy.
- Return to heat on low, stir in the remaining corn and poblano peppers. Warm through, about 5-8 minutes on low. (**see note about adding black beans if desired). Squeeze half a lime juice into the soup, stir and taste for salt adjustment.
- Share tortilla soup with your favorite toppings such as lime wedges, tortilla strips* see note for homemade or tortilla chips, avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar and/or cilantro.
- Store up to three days in the refrigerator or allow to cool completely before freezing. To thaw, place in refrigerator overnight and reheat for about 10 minutes stove top on low heat.
I made this soup; it’s absolutely lovely! The store was out of poblano peppers so I used Anaheim chiles instead because they were in stock.
Hi Cheryl! Thank you for your note and giving the recipe a go. Thank you for sharing your tip about Anaheim! It sounds fabulous!
This is such a great variation on most tortilla soup recipes I’ve made. The puréed tomato base is so rich and flavorful and the roasted poblanos add such a nice smoky flavor and just a little heat. I loved being able to use up all of the end of the season peppers in this recipe. Thanks, Traci!
Hiiii Jean! SO nice to read your comment here and happy to hear you enjoyed it! Those smoky poblanos are so satisfying.
MaryAnn | The Beach House Kitchen
One of our favorite soups Traci! Just perfect for comfort food season. I love the smoky flavor of the roasted poblanos.
Such a treat Mare! Agreed! Poblanos have such incredible flavor.
Silvia @ Ribas with Love
This recipe is so beautiful. Pinned!
Thank you, Silva! One of my favorite soups! :D
Kathleen | HapaNom
My mouth is watering! love dishes with robust flavors and heat and this soup certainly looks and sounds like it fits the bill! Such beautiful colors as well!
Thank you, Kathleen! Oh yeah, this soup gets those endorphins working for sure! It’s so good… can’t wait for pablano season again! :D
Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder
Gorgeous pics and the recipe looks delish! Mnn poblanos! Glad I stumbled upon this from fb! :)
Oh so happy you like the recipe Natalie! Thanks for stopping by! :D
Yum! Our friend just gave us a bunch of peppers from his garden. We’re in California, so his garden is still producing some great stuff. Can’t wait to try this soup!
How fabulous that your friend shares his garden veggies! And he’s growing pablanos? That’s even better! I hope you enjoy the recipe, Robin!
I adore roasted poblanos- I usually only see recipes for stuffed varieties though so thank you so much for sharing this!
Ooooh, I adore pablanos too! They are so versitile and delicious! Thanks for stopping by Kelsey!
Anne|Craving Something Healthy
This is one of my favorite soups – I love your version with poblanos and corn. Can’t wait to try this!
Oh it’s so delicious! It warms one up fast, too! Thanks for stopping by Anne!
Mandi | My Cup Is Full
Wow – I think my husband would be in heaven if I made him this soup, especially with the jalapeños! He grew up on spicy foods, and is slowly getting me hooked on them too :)
Watch out for those jalapenos, Mandi! They certainly take this soup to the true mouthwatering level, in such a good way!
Catalina @ Shades of Pink
Really great flavors, and beautiful presentation, love it!
Traci!! This is just gorgeous! I love how it seems so rich and indulgent yet it’s so totally healthy. Love the use of roasted poblanos, too, to add to the sheer intense flavor of it all! Amazing work!!