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Monte Vista is the area where my grandmother’s home in San Antonio is located. It is the house where I learned about spices and deep flavor profiles in cooking. It is the house my father grew up in and now it belongs to me. When my husband and I first met, I would make a big pot of Monte Vista Tortilla Soup for the two of us, while Ric sat on a stool in the kitchen and played his guitar for me – it was magic.

Monte Vista Tortilla Soup

Hearty and rich, this soup can be made a number of ways. If the cream and cheese are left out, it is a wonderful low-fat vegan soup, add roasted or poached chicken for an amazing *chicken tortilla soup – it’s delicious whichever version you chose!


Monte Vista Tortilla Soup
Serves: 6-8
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup bell pepper, diced (this time I used ¼ cup roasted poblano pepper and ¼ cup fresh green bell pepper)
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh garlic, minced fine
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon fresh oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet, not hot)
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne (adjust to your taste)
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes (fire roasted are best)
  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I make a vegetable stock with water and a one or two Rapunzel herb bullion cubes)
  • 6 corn tortillas torn in 1 inch pieces
  • ¾ cup heavy cream (optional)
  • ½ to 1 cup Colby Jack, Monterey Jack or Velveeta cheese (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped coarse
  1. Sauté onion, pepper, celery and carrot in the olive oil until tender.
  2. Add the garlic and all of the spices except for the cayenne pepper and cook for a minute or two to release the flavors.
  3. Add tomatoes and broth and bring to boil.
  4. Toss in the corn tortillas, turn the heat down and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Just before serving, add cream and cheese and warm the soup thoroughly until cheese is melted and incorporated.
  6. Stir in the cilantro and half of the cayenne pepper, taste for desired spiciness and add more if you prefer more heat.
  7. Garnish with tortilla strips or chips, sour cream, fresh cilantro and even some diced avocado.
  8. * For Chicken Tortilla Soup - 10 minutes before serving, add 2 cups roasted or poached chicken that has been shredded or cubed and use chicken stock instead of vegetable stock.





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