Spicy Tortilla Soup & Smoky Salsa Recipe

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Taco shells are a complex ingredient. You can never, ever, ever have the right amount of them. Either you have too little and people start giving each other tentative looks as they reach for the last one, or you have some that kick around long after taco night ended.

This spicy tortilla soup is an elegant way to solve that problem.

It’s filled with layers of flavor and topped with crunchy leftover taco shells. And it makes the whole house smell incredibly good. Seriously. I was going to shred some cooked chicken for the soup, but I couldn’t wait that long.

How sad is that? I actually couldn’t wait for five more minutes to dive into this soup.

And one of the things that made it so scrumptious, is the chipotle pepper. Instead of chopping it up, I used it like a bay leaf. So as it traveled around the Dutch oven, it gave the soup a wonderfully smoky flavor.

I also whipped together a quick batch of blended salsa for extra flavor, which made the soup incredibly bright. It’s an extra step, but it’s worth it.

Tortilla Soup
Yield: 4 servings

Spicy Tortilla Soup & Smoky Salsa

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes



  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 4 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 dried chipotle pepper
  • 1 can diced green chilies, 4.5 oz
  • 1 cup Smoky Salsa, recipe below
  • 2 taco shells, crumbled


  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/4 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 6 slices pickled jalapeno, or ½ a small jalapeno, seeded
  • 2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika

  • 6 slices pickled jalapeno, or ½ a small jalapeno, seeded
  • 2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika



  1. Serve with crushed taco shells.


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  • Launie Kettler

    Launie Kettler is a food writer/photographer who lives in a “suburb" of Burlington, VT. She cooks big food in a small kitchen, and her husband and cats are tolerant of the fact that she plays the same Wilco and Son Volt albums over and over while pontificating about the beauty of cumin. Her food blog, Teeny Tiny Kitchen, was featured on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, and her writing has been linked to by CNN and the L.A. Times. Launie has also had her recipes featured on Punk Domestics, Cheese Culture Magazine, Athens Foods and Salon. Check out Teeny Tiny Kitchen for more recipes and photos or follow Launie on Twitter @Teenytinykitchn

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