Moctezuma of soups

Moctezuma was the king of the Aztecs. Sopa Azteca is the king of the soups.

“It is rich and salty and perfectly balanced with its brothy and crunchy elements,” said Melissa Lawrence, tortilla soup enthusiast. “You just can’t stop eating it, no matter how spicy it may be.”

A beautiful, cheesy tortilla soup! (Photo by: Melissa Lawrence)
A beautiful, cheesy tortilla soup! (Photo by: Melissa Lawrence)

When I was seven years old, my nanny tried to teach my sister and me how to make tortilla soup, also known as Sopa Azteca, using her mother’s traditional recipe. When I say “tried to teach us” I mean, she made the soup and just let us throw in ingredients. But we made a bit of a mistake.

When we dished up the soup, we quickly discovered we’d more than tripled the chilies, making the soup so spicy it was inedible. Almost inedible.

The chilies used to flavor tortilla soup. (Photo by: javarman3/iStock/Getty Images)


Never the group to back down from a challenge, we tried everything we could to fix our creation.

First we poured ourselves glasses of milk, the classic heat-killer, but it was incapable of cutting through the layer of heat sitting on our tongues. Then we added more cheese, leaving our soup a thick, queso-y fireball of heat. So we added some cream, which worked to cut out the heat but took all the flavor with it.

So we started again, from scratch, and finally arrived at the perfect balance.

Tortilla soup is great fall treat that never fails to pull me back to my childhood and to the feeling of invincibility and whimsy that we felt that day.

“Tortilla soup is my favorite soup because it is comforting and reminds me of my childhood. . . It never disappoints and always heightens my mood,” added Melissa Lawrence.

Here is the recipe to uplift any chilly day:

What you need:

  • Tortilla chips (Use this kind)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 8 cups of vegetable broth or water
  • Oregano
  • 1-2 Pasilla chilies (depending on your desired level of spice)
  • 1 avocado
  • Shredded cheese (your choice!)
  • Cilantro to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Good vibes

How to make it:

  • Soak the Pasillo chilies in room temperature water until soft.
  • Put the tomatoes, the garlic, and half the onion, and a sprig of cilantro in a pot. Cover in water, and set to boil.
  • When soft, blend the vegetables with the chilies and a bit of water.
  • Return the blended liquid with a little bit of oil to the pot.
  • Add either the vegetable broth, or just keep the liquid from when you first boiled the vegetables to the same blended mixture. Let boil.
  • Once boiled, run through sieve.
  • Return to stove and heat to desired temperature.

How to serve it:

  • Crumble your chips in the bowl first.
  • Then add your desired amount of cheese and chopped onion.
  • Pour your soup on top of this mixture.
  • Top it off with a slice of avocado, and enjoy the greatest soup experience of your life.

Bonus: The spice of this soup will help clear your sinuses while you warm up from the chilly weather. And this recipe is as old as time itself, having first been made by the Aztecs, and it’s maintained its popularity, so you know it’s a winner.


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