spicy veggie tortilla-less tortilla soup

March 2, 2012 · 23 comments

in dinner, food, recipes

when i was younger, my family would often to out to eat after church on sunday mornings. one of our favorite restaurants was perkins. my sister and i always got the buttermilk bear pancakes and we loved using boysenberry syrup. my mom usually ordered eggs benedict and would get a blueberry muffin (her favorite) with her meal. i can’t remember what my dad would order, but it was probably a pretty normal breakfast combo with eggs, bacon or sausage, and toast.

i don’t eat at perkins very often anymore, but brad and i still like to eat there once in a while. last time we stopped at perkins for lunch, brad ordered a chicken tortilla soup that we both really liked because it was so spicy.

i jotted down what i thought were the key ingredients to the soup and i decided to make it myself, but, i didn’t want to use tortillas. instead, i envisioned a spicy veggie-filled soup that reminded me of tortilla soup without the tortillas.

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i’m pretty sure i succeeded.

spicy vegetable tortilla-less tortilla soup


by sarah zinkel

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60-90 minutes

Keywords: blender soup/stew vegan vegetarian beans




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ingredients (serves 8)

for the soup

  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cups great northern beans
  • 7 jalapenos (with or without seeds – i used them)
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 2 cups sweet corn
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin

to garnish

  • sour cream or plain yogurt
  • diced bell peppers
  • tortilla chips


prep all veggies by washing and chopping them (cauliflower can be just broken into large pieces)

in large stock pot, cook onions and garlic in oil until slightly soft (~1 minute)

add vegetable broth, cauliflower, and great northern beans and simmer until cauliflower is soft (~30 minutes)

use an immersion blender to blend soup until completely smooth (can also transfer to regular blender for this step & return blended soup to pot)

add bell peppers, jalapenos, black beans, corn, and spices to the pot and simmer until bell peppers are soft (~30 minutes)

once peppers are soft, blend again, but leave the soup a bit chunky

add more spices to suite your taste preferences

garnish with sour cream or plain yogurt, bell peppers, and tortilla chips

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to save time

add all vegetables and spices to the broth right away and skip the second blending step

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this soup is vegan if you omit the sour cream garnish.

or, you could go the other direction and poach and shred some chicken to add to it (that’s what i did for brad).

i wanted to blend up the cauliflower and beans into a smooth base for the soup to mimic the creaminess that the tortillas usually add. then i wanted the rest of the vegetables to be identifiable, but not super chunky, which is why i blended it a little bit more a second time.

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i’ve brought this soup to work for the past couple days to eat at lunch and i can’t get enough of it! the flavors definitely intensify as it sits in the refrigerator.

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i am adding this soup to the regular rotation.


this weekend is my phd program’s recruitment weekend, so there are a bunch of prospective students visiting right now. i am hosting a couple of students for the day, so i’ll be walking them to their interviews with the professors all day today. i’m also hosting students for lunch and dinner today and lunch tomorrow. plus, tomorrow morning is a poster session for graduate students to present their research, so i’ll also be participating in that.

it’s going to be a busy couple of days!


what was your favorite breakfast as a child?

i really liked getting pancakes at perkins – they were shaped like a bear’s face with one big pancake for the face and two little ones for the ears, a dollop of butter for the nose, and mini chocolate chip eyes.

but most weekday mornings, i think we ate cereal. on weekends, when we didn’t go out to eat, we made bacon, eggs, and toast.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

heather March 2, 2012 at 6:09 am

okay. let’s talk Perkins, shall we?

Perkins – it was a go-to place for the family to stop on road trips growing up.
and then, I was in high school, and attending pop punk and ska shows in Madison on the weekends, stopping at the East Town Perkins with friends late at night after the show. Then, I was in college, taking my study materials and a handful of dorm-mates with me to chow down on chicken tender melts [with honey mustard, not ranch!], and french fries, and milk shakes – OH MY! There was an interesting waitress we always ended up with, Kaylee, at the University Ave location. She also was still working there two years after I left Madison, when I came back to visit Perkins is all kinds of naustalgia for me.

And then I moved to Lousiana.
And then I moved to Texas.
And then I moved to New York.

297 miles.
381 miles.
and 161 miles away. Respectively.
[at least I finally seem to be getting CLOSER to a Perkins, right?]

I realize that Perkins is nothing TOO special, but some days, I find myself CRAVING it and wishing I could just hop on over to a booth and order something delicious – usually at about 12:37 AM.
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:21 am

yes, let’s talk perkins!

it’s definitely one of the places that i craved when i lived in st. louis, too. i definitely think it’s got to do with the whole nostalgia factor. it’s comforting and it takes me back to those sunday mornings when life was so simple & easy. :)


Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 2, 2012 at 6:27 am

whoa! 7 jalapenos??? i LOVE it!
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:22 am

i was CRAVING the spice!


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

Haha – we ate at Perkins all the time too. I would pick the fried parts off the chicken and not tough the meat – so gross!

This recipe sounds fantastic – and looks gorgeous! You took some great shots.

My favorite breakfast growing up was french toast on challah bread. It’s STILL my favorite, though less syrup now.
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

it has been way too long since i’ve had french toast. now i’m craving it!


Mellissa March 2, 2012 at 8:34 am

Ah Perkins. The place we went in high school when we had a late start or after a late night. Now it is a place that i occasionally go with my Grandparents to breakfast.
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

we went there on late start mornings too! :)

*duh, it just occurred to me that we went to the SAME perkins on those mornings.


Elizabeth March 2, 2012 at 11:12 am

This looks really good! I am a huge fan of spicy, and love recipes that can be modified for vegetarians (like me) and non-vegetarians (like everyone else I know). ;-)
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

i always seem to be making meatless meals for myself (i’m not vegetarian, but i don’t eat a lot of meat…) and then adding in shredded chicken or other meat to half of it for my husband.


Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food March 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

I am in love with your bowls and spoons!

Oh…and the soup looks pretty amazing, too! ;-)
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:17 am

thanks kelly!

the bowls are fiestaware and the spoons are from crate & barrel! i love them too – i’m a fan of brightly colored dishes. :)


Mama Sieracki March 2, 2012 at 11:56 am

You know, the last time I was at Perkins was when we went there after church, wow that was a long time ago.

I am going to try your soup recipe, looks wonderful.


sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

wow mom – i can’t believe that was the last time you went there! that was a VERY long time ago.


Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf March 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Ha! I remember Perkins! This soup sounds delicious and a lot healthier. All those jalapenos makes me happy. I’d probably add a ton of spice to it so I was sweating LOL. Thx for sharing!
Aparna B. @ Not A Leaf recently posted…What I Ate [And Indulged Since] Wednesday – #6My Profile


sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:20 am

yeah, i don’t even want to know the nutrition stats to the actual perkins soup. this one is definitely healthier!


Emily March 2, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Hi Sarah! I’m wondering where you got those cute spoons! I’ve seen them on a few different blogs and would love to track some down myself!


sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:15 am

hi emily! i got the spoons at crate & barrel. they have lots of colors and they’re about $2 each!


Emily March 5, 2012 at 7:52 pm

thank you!!


Meredith @ DareYouTo March 3, 2012 at 5:10 am

Mm I love when flavors intensify in the fridge! My favorite breakfast as a child was original Cheerios. I’d carry around the yellow box when it was half my size.
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sarah March 5, 2012 at 10:14 am

hahaha, awww. i can picture a little girl toddling around trying to hold onto this huge box of cereal. :) so cute!


Stephanie @ LoveLaughterLight March 5, 2012 at 8:22 am

Your recipe looks great, however, cauliflower isn’t in your ingredient list. How much do you use? Also, do 7 jalapenos make it super hot? I love spicy foods, but I’d like to be able to taste the soup with a non-burnt tongue. :)


sarah March 5, 2012 at 8:44 am

hi stephanie – oh my gosh! i am so embarrassed that i left cauliflower off the ingredient list. i fixed it now. i used one head of cauliflower.


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