Tortilla Soup: Transforming A Recipe for a Vegetarian Lifestyle

Transforming Our Eating: Going Meat-less
My husband of all people, the MAN (I emphasize man because most men seem more carniverous than women) that loves pepperoni, beef jerkey, summer sausage, and all other meats is working toard eating more VEGAN. That's right, vegan. He's not becoming a vegan, at least not yet, but he wants to eat vegan more if not most of the time. Vegans don't eat cheese. Cheese! One of his favorite foods EVER! I mean I thought I loved cheese until I married my husband. Then I realized I just liked cheese a lot.

So what in the world brought about this change? A change I'm not even seriously entertaining myself. It's called "The China Study." After listening to this book via audio, he became convinced by their exhaustive research that we are eating too much animal protein and that consuming plant proteins is a healthier way to eat and live. My husband is the type of person that after becoming convinced of the evidence, he acts accordingly. l agree that we Americans are eating far too much meat and scaling back our intake would be beneficial to our health.

I'm not a big meat eater, so scaling back doesn't bother me, except I have had to search for more vegetarian meals and recipes as a result. My own personal goal is to eat less meat (and buy organic meat for our home-cooked meals) adopting more of a vegetarian diet than vegan. My husband's current goal is to eat meat minimally, to eat vegetarian largely, and to shoot for vegan at least a couple days a week. Vegan is more difficult because it cuts out dairy. No cheese in recipes can be a real bummer. Plus, this affects milk, butter, eggs, etc. which can prove to be tricky. I'm not sure we will ever be full blown vegan, but steps toward better eating is always worthwhile. Furthermore, the way my husband has cut back has shown great strength, and I am amazed at the power of the mind to forfeit favorite foods if convicted enough. Now, if we could just translate that into sugar. What's more is that without counting calories or watching the amount of his food intake, he has lost around 10-15 pounds, simply by significantly cutting down his dairy and meat intake. What's not to love about that?

Vegetarian and Vegan Recipe Searches
Over the course of the last few months, the greatest challenge is simply coming up with new recipes to enjoy. Prior to my husband's conversion, recipes almost HAD to have some form of meat or cheese to be a favorite. Now we have to switch things up. We've also been working on reducing our intake of processed foods and of buying mostly organic (when possible), so in the process we have been exploring new recipes and changing up old ones with healthier ingredients. One angle is to try to take some favorites and make them vegan or vegetarian. I always find a secret pleasure in a new or changed recipe that turns out delicious while simultaneously declaring: "And it's VEGAN too!"

So from my transforming kitchen to yours, here's a recipe from a friend that we changed up tonight from meat to meat-less. And I must confess, I liked it this way better. Go veggies! Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how you might change up some of your favorite recipes in your kitchen. Be creative!

By the way, my changes from the original recipe to a vegan soup are below in italics and parenthesis.

Tortilla Soup
The Original "Meaty" Recipe: Recipe adapted from Tasty Kitchen


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes (I used a 28oz can of organic tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I've yet to have this on hand)
  • 2 bay leaves (I've yet to have this on hand either)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I have actually located a No-Chicken Broth at my local Kroger. I kid you not. It works great for "chicken broth" options without any actual meat product in it. You could always try Vegetable broth too.)
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded (I substituted half can of black beans and half can or corn for the chicken for a vegetarian option. You could add more of either or both.)
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterrey jack cheese (I turned this into an optional "topping" rather than stirring into the soup. I actually like it better as a topping.)


  • 2 tortillas, cut into strips (or just tortilla chips work!)
  • 1 avocado, diced


  • In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, 1/3 cup cilantro and garlic, saute 3 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes and spices, then bring to a boil.
  • Add the broth and carrots. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook another 10-12 minutes. About 10 minutes in, add the chicken (or beans and corn for a vegatarian option) to give it a little time to warm through.
  • Meanwhile, toast tortilla strips in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until crispy. (Or skip this and just use tortilla chips. Both ways are good.)
  • Stir in the cheese once all is warmed through (or omit completely and reserve only for a topping option for those interested). Remove bay leaves before serving.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado and tortilla strips or chip. (Don't miss out on the avocado as a fresh topping!)

I encourage you to think outside the box on how you could take a favorite recipe and make it vegetarian or vegan, too.

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Comments 7 comments

Lea Kapper 5 years ago

Good job Ashlea. I do believe it is a healthier way of eating and that it was never intended for us to eat the way we do, especially meat!!

Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

Welcome to HubPages, Ashlea. This hub is awesome. I love how you tweaked that chicken tortilla soup recipe by opting for healthier alternatives. I cook vegan and vegetarian dishes pretty often, but I don't think I'll ever be able to give up meat for good. lol

Ashlea B profile image

Ashlea B 5 years ago Author

Thanks! Some favorite recipes are worth experimenting with especially if you see a possibility for change. I'm not sure I will give up meat for good either. :o) But, I think working toward less is best.

Beverly Stevens 5 years ago

Thanks for the recipe, Ashlea. If your Kroger carries faux chicken soup or bouillon, it probably carries faux chicken patties that you could shred for the chicken parts and faux shredded cheese. Check around the produce area. Try becoming vegan at home. Then, when you go out, eat whatever. You learn the habit of preparing food a new way. And, you will have less to explaining to friends when going out and easier restaurant choices if you keep those habits similar--for a while--to adjust.

Ashlea B profile image

Ashlea B 5 years ago Author

They have a decent selection (the section is sort of set aside from everything else), which is nice because we don't have a lot of specialty stores in the smaller town I live in. I'll have to try the faux shredded cheese sometime. I'll confess, I'm a little worried about whether I'll like it or not. We've recently tried some veggie burgers in the frozen section. Perhaps I'll give faux chicken a whirl someday, but for this recipe we didn't miss it a bit. Yay!

Roland Malbaurn 3 years ago

[quote]8192 characters left.[/quote]

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