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A vegetarian twist on soup

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This vegetarian spin on tortilla soup gets its savory flavor from deeply caramelized cabbage, which brings sweetness, bitterness and earthiness. It uses tortillas in two ways: Pulverized tortilla chips add body and a delightful undercurrent of nutty flavor. (Grinding the tortilla finely ensures that it integrates into the soup without needing a final blend.) They are also sprinkled on top, adding a satisfying crunch while echoing the soup’s corn flavor. Treat this recipe as a template and add whatever other vegetables you may have. As with other tortilla soups, the final garnishes are key to balancing the complex flavors. Don’t skimp on the lime, as its bracing acidity lifts all of the elements.

Vegetable Tortilla Soup
• 3 tablespoons neutral oil, like grapeseed
• 1 small purple cabbage, halved, cored and finely shredded
• Salt and black pepper
• 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
• 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1/2 packed cup tortilla chips, finely ground in a spice grinder or blender
• 2 cups tomato purée
• 3 canned chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
• 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained

Ingredients for serving:
• Lightly crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, vegan sour cream or yogurt, chopped cilantro and yellow onion, lime wedges

Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over high. Add the cabbage, season with a large pinch of salt and cook, occasionally stirring, until softened, lightly charred in spots and smelling smoky, about 10 minutes. Add the sweet potato, onion, garlic and another pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion and garlic have softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tortilla chips. Add the tomato purée and chipotles and bring to a simmer.

Add 5 cups of water and another large pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the soup is thickened and the sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the pinto beans; season to taste with salt and pepper.
Divide soup among bowls and serve with desired toppings.
Total time: 40 minutes, serves 4-6.

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