This vegan lentil tortilla soup messes with the mind by tasting more like chili than a vegetarian soup made with lentils. Load it up with all of your favorite chili toppings, knowing everything below is meat-free!
Vegan | Southwestern Cuisine | Cooking Time About 60 Minutes
Love cooking with lentils? See our recommendations for some of the Best Healthy Lentil Recipes for every budget and every diet.
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Benefits Of Cooking Soup With Lentils
There are so many benefits to cooking lentils and other pulses. Like many beans, pulses are a great source of protein. They are high in fiber but also are low fat. They also include vitamins and minerals like calcium, zinc, potassium, iron, and folate (folate is a type of vitamin B).
They are a great alternative protein. Pulses have two or three times as much protein as grains, even quinoa. They are also an alternative to meat proteins.
Because they are so much less expensive than meat they form the backbone of many diets for people around the world. This is one reason why there are so many pulses in Indian cooking. There are loads of recipes with lentils and chickpeas.
What Makes A Vegetarian Lentil Soup So Good
Another great benefit of making soup with lentils is that they form a great backdrop to all of your other tasty ingredients. Lentils act almost like a blank canvas and can be flavored in so many different ways.
In this case, making a tortilla lentil soup means that all of those tiny little lentils take on the texture of ground beef or ground pork. This means the soup messes with the mind. Particularly for people who are not vegan or vegetarian, but want to reduce their meat consumption, this tortilla soup is a great trick.
Check out our other lentil soup recipes:
What Makes This A Southwest Lentil Soup
Eric’s been enjoying all of the lentil soups I’ve been making for him. But, this one in particular he loved! Whether you call this a Southwest-Style or a Mexican lentil soup recipe, it had the texture and flavor of chili. That’s why Eric was so enthralled by it. He couldn’t believe how much it seemed like chili, but without the beef.
This soup also includes a lot of the same ingredients as a southwest-style chili. This include onions, peppers, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. The black beans and corn also add to the southwest flair.
What Type Of Lentils To Use
For this vegetarian tortilla soup, I prefer using red lentils. The lentils tend to take on the consistency of ground meat, which is why this is a perfect vegetarian lentil soup.
I love cooking with green or brown lentils too. If you have those, they will work. But, brown lentils, and in particular green lentils tend to hold their shape better, which makes them feel a little less like a meat alternative in a dish like this.
There’s no need to soak lentils before cooking, but I do like suggest rinsing them in cool water and draining. I don’t like using a traditional colander when draining lentils. The holes are normally too big and the lentils slip through, this is particularly true with red lentils.
Instead, I like using a colander from this OXO 9-piece colander and bowl nesting set. I can rinse the lentils in the colander and then place the colander in the bowl to keep the water from dripping everywhere.
Check out the OXO 9-piece set on Amazon here.
Ingredients For Lentil And Black Bean Soup
There is a lengthy list of ingredients for this lentil tortilla soup, but many of these ingredients are ones that you find around your house or hidden in the back of the pantry.
Seasoning And Spices
The base of the lentil soup is olive oil, diced onion, and pressed or minced garlic. I like to use a garlic press too so that there aren’t big chunks of garlic in the soup. Try the Zulay stainless steel garlic press, which is easy to use. There’s no need to even peel the garlic ahead of time.
To these seasonings, add a green pepper and a chili pepper like a jalapeno if you like spicy foods. You can also use a yellow or red pepper. Both should be diced. When using both a sweet and a spicy pepper, I like to dice the sweet pepper square and the spicy pepper in round slices so that people who don’t like spicy peppers can eat around them.
The spices for this tortilla soup come from ground cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper as well as salt and black pepper.
Don’t hesitate to use salt in your cooking. It won’t make the soup salty but will help to blend all of these ingredients together. You can also add a bit of crushed red pepper to taste if you like it spicy.
In addition to red lentils, use a bit of vegetable broth. If you are not a vegetarian, you can use chicken broth as well. The acidity for the lentil soup comes from diced tomatoes as well as a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Then, to make this lentil soup southwest-style, use a can of black beans. They don’t need to be rained or rinsed. Instead, the starchy liquid they come in will help to thicken the soup. Then, add a can of corn, which should be drained to remove the excess liquid in the can.
And, this becomes a proper tortilla soup by using tortilla strips or crumbled tortilla chips. You can add some into the soup so that they soften, or just sprinkle them on top.
How To Make Vegan Tortilla Soup With Lentils
Add olive oil, garlic, onion, and peppers to a large dutch oven or stockpot. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper to the pot and coat in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the lentils start to sweat.
Add the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Use the wooden spoon to scrape any seasoning or spices that might be stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Turn to heat down to let the lentils simmer, covered, for about 5-7 minutes. There shouldn’t be a ton of liquid in the pot. It should be just enough to give the lentils a head start and to get them to infuse with seasoning and spices. Stir at least once to make sure the lentils are not burning on the bottom of the pot.
Cooking The Lentils
After 5-7 minutes, add the diced tomatoes and stir. Cook for another 15-20 minutes or until the lentils start to soften. Stir occasionally to ensure the lentils don’t burn or start to stick too much on the bottom of the pot.
If this happens, just add some more broth, about a ½ cup at a time. As much as this is a soup, you don’t want too much liquid. More liquid will be added with the corn and the beans.
I also like to use a spatula to push any of the lentils stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven into the soup so that they don’t cook unevenly.
When the lentils are soft but before they get mushy, add the corn and black beans. Cook another 5-10 minutes until the corn and beans are warmed through and the lentils are completely cooked.
Just before serving, add the freshly squeezed lime juice to add some zest. Sprinkle the top with tortilla chips.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 pepper (yellow, green, red), diced
- 1-2 jalapenos or spicy peppers (optional)
- ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 6 ounce can of corn, drained
- 1 15 ounce can of black beans
- Juice from one lime
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips
- Add olive oil, garlic, onion, and peppers to a large dutch oven or stockpot. Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables start to soften.
- Add the lentils, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper to the pot and coat in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the lentils start to sweat.
- Add the vegetable broth to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat down to simmer, covered, for about 5-7 minutes.
- Stir at least once to make sure the lentils are not burning on the bottom of the pot. After 5-7 minutes, add the diced tomatoes and stir.
- Cook for another 20-25 minutes or until the lentils start to soften. Stir occasionally to ensure the lentils don’t burn or start to stick too much on the bottom of the pot. If this happens, just add some more broth, about a ½ cup at a time.
- When the lentils are soft but before they get mushy, add the corn and black beans. Cook another 5-10 minutes until the corn and beans are warmed through and the lentils are completely cooked.
- Just before serving, add the freshly squeezed lime juice to add some zest. Sprinkle the top with tortilla chips and serve.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 396Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 697mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 19gSugar: 9gProtein: 18g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.
Toppings For The Best Vegetarian Tortilla Soup Recipe
Really, you can use any of your favorite chili toppings on this soup. In addition to the tortilla strips or tortilla chips, the rest of the ingredients are only limited by any dietary restrictions.
This soup goes well with sliced jalapenos, shredded cheese, sour cream, or low-fat Greek yogurt. Top it with salsa or pico de gallo. To make it a little more authentic Mexican, add a slap of queso fresco.