This recipe for tortilla soup is novel on many fronts. For starters, it is vegetarian, and even vegan if you leave off the yogurt garnish. Second, it is water-based, so you don’t have to have any canned or homemade stock on hand to throw it together. Third, it comes together in about 30 minutes. Finally, it requires no frying in hot oil — the tortilla strips become enticingly crisp in the oven, tossed with a small amount of olive oil and spiked with lemon and smoky paprika.
The soup has remarkable depth of flavor for something that comes together so quickly. It secret lies in the use of smoked paprika — when used judiciously, this pantry staple adds smokiness and savor. I bought mine at Penzey’s — while some smoked paprikas I’ve bought have fallen flat, their version is nice and potent. A teaspoon is all you need for a nice dose of je ne sais quoi.
Crunchy Tortilla Strips:
4 corn tortillas
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Slice tortillas in half, then cut into 1/2″ ribbons.
3. Spread out the tortilla strips on the parchment-lined baking sheet, then evenly sprinkle them with the remaining ingredients.
4. Toss tortilla strips to coat evenly.
5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.