Mommy Cafe

Vegetarian home cooking, kid tested and approved

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

Just the words “tortilla soup” send me to a blissful place. I love the tangyness, the hint of spice, the tender crunch of lightly sauteed peppers in a bath of tomatoey deliciousness. Mmm. Heaven.

Okay, head out of the clouds and feet firmly on the ground.

I have put off posting this recipe for almost a year now. Not because I’m selfish and don’t want to share. The problem is that I can never wait long enough to get a photo before diving in to a big bowlful. Tonight was no exception. My sincerest apologies. But I do believe you will forgive me once you try this dish for yourself.

This is a fantastic soup. It is full of vegetables and vitamin C, and you get to customize it to your particular taste at the table. Want more kick than the kids can handle? Throw in a few dashes of hot sauce. Love sour cream and cheese but your dinner guests don’t do dairy? Add it to your own bowl. Don’t want the same soup two days in a row? Doubtful with this tasty dish, but change it up and add avocados, fresh cilantro, black olives, bean sprouts, cooked noodles or rice, or whatever you find hiding in your fridge.

My favorite way to enjoy this soup is with homemade tortilla chips. Store-bought tortilla chips are good for a lot of things, but this soup isn’t one of them, in my humble opinion. I’ve posted the recipe for homemade chips here before, but for this soup I like to use lots and lots of dried cilantro instead of the coriander. And some salt. Ya gotta have salt.

By the way, this feeds approximately one army. So either halve it, freeze some for later, or invite the neighborhood. And be prepared to force yourself away from your bowl before thirds.

Prep and Cook time: 40 minutes           Estimated cost: $2 per serving

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, anaheim, or poblano pepper, diced finely
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 10-oz can diced tomatoes (or use fire-roasted and the jalapeno)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 2 T cumin
  • 2 T cilantro
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 15-oz cans (or 4 cups) black or red beans (rinse canned beans well and drain)
  • 2 cups frozen corn

Tortilla Chips

  • 10-12 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T cilantro
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 T oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender. Add crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, spices, and salt. Stir well and bring to a soft boil. Add beans and corn. Turn heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Toss tortilla strips with 2 T oil, cilantro, and cumin. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until crisp.

Serve soup in bowls and top with grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced avocado, and tortilla chips. Or with whatever your happy heart desires!

Serves 8


August 27, 2012 Posted by | Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rice with Black Beans and Chili-Cheese

Mmm, this hearty meal is perfect for cool weather.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find a lot of rice entrees on my weekly menu plans when the weather gets chilly.  It’s such a warming food, and especially when you pair it with a little heat from green chilies!

I found this recipe from the Vegetarian Express cookbook a couple of years ago.  After the first bite, Will decided this was the meal he wanted me to make for a Winter Solstice potluck.  We ended up not going to the potluck since the weather was so unpleasant, but that just meant we didn’t have to share our new favorite dish!

This is such a simple dish, and when served with a salad makes a perfect weeknight dinner.

Prep and cook time: 40 minutes      Approximate cost: $7 for a pan

Riced with Black Beans and Chili-Cheese

  • 6-serving portion of quick-cooking brown rice
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4-oz can chopped mild green chilies
  • 4 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 15-oz part-skim ricotta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a 1 1/2-qt baking dish.

Prepare the rice according to package directions.  Briefly saute the garlic and onion in a tablespoon of olive oil until golden.

In a large bowl, mix the cooked rice with the beans, garlic, and onion.  In another dish, combine the cheddar and ricotta cheeses with the green chilies.  Layer half of the rice and bean mixture into the baking dish, followed by half of the cheddar-ricotta mixture, and repeat.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, let stand for a minute or two, then cut into squares and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

October 26, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , , | 1 Comment

Mexican Lasagna

I’m back!  These past few months have been a whirlwind of activity, which means dinners have too often been the same old same old.  I was feeling a bit stuck in a food rut that was not worthy of publishing.  But tonight I broke out my favorite combination of ingredients (you guessed it– black beans, corn, and cumin!) and started mixing, and got myself back oMexican Lasagnan track!

My memory may be faltering these days, but I can always remember a good meal.  Back in my Gateway Hotel days, conference services would frequently make one of those unforgettable meals– a Mexican lasagna that made my tummy happy.  It was a pretty meaty dish, as most lasagnas are, but gosh darnit I’ve been wanting it!  And so desire leads to creation, or something like that.

This dish got two thumbs up from Will, although it took some time for him to articulate with words as he was too busy shoveling food into his mouth to speak.  When he did speak, his only critique was that it wasn’t really Mexican food.  So here is my recipe for not-so-Mexican lasagna.

Prep and cook time: 60 minutes        Approximate cost: $8 for a pan

Mexican Lasagna

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 each red and green pepper, diced large
  • Taco seasoning (store-bought, or see my homemade recipe with Taco Stromboli)
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup corn
  • 10 oz ricotta cheese
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 oz can diced chilies
  • 10-12 corn tortillas
  • Salsa

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Saute the onions and peppers in olive oil until tender-crisp.  Add taco seasoning, beans, corn, and 1/8 cup of water.  Simmer until the water absorbs.

Meanwhile, combine ricotta cheese, 1 cup of cheddar cheese, and chilies in a small bowl and mix well.

Line a casserole dish with a layer of corn tortillas.  Top with half of the vegetable mixture, then half of the cheese mixture.  Spread a thin layer of salsa on the cheese and top with another layer of tortillas. Repeat with the remaining vegetables and cheese, another layer of salsa, and tortillas.  Spread one last layer of salsa on top of the tortillas and cover with remaining 2 cups of cheddar cheese.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes longer, or until cheese starts to turn bubbly and brown.

Serves 6 to 8

October 12, 2010 Posted by | Recipes, Vegetarian | , , , , | Leave a comment