Tortilla Soup with Lentils


This comforting, thick soup is perfect for a cold winter day, and its fun and colorful garnishes will liven up any meal. Slideshow:  More Mexican Recipes 

Tortilla Soup With Lentils
Photo: © Molly Yeh
Total Time:
45 mins
4 to 6


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 2 bell peppers, finely chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • Pinch of crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Fresh ground black pepper

  • 1 pound pork sausage, casings removed

  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 4 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup lentils, rinsed

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

  • Six 4-inch corn tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch strips

  • 2 lime wedges, plus 4-6 more for serving


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, over moderately high heat until the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the jalapeño and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa, oregano, paprika, cayenne, red pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, a few turns of black pepper, and the sausage; cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, until the sausage is browned and cooked through, about 7 minutes.

  2. Stir in the tomatoes and the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils, reduce to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender, 30 to 35 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet over moderate heat until shimmering. Fry the tortilla strips in batches for 3 minutes, until crispy. Transfer to a paper towel and immediately sprinkle with salt and squeeze with lime.

  4. Ladle into bowls and serve with tortilla strips, lime wedges, diced avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro and shredded Monterey jack or crumbled queso fresco.

Make Ahead

The soup and tortilla strips can be made the day before. Garnish directly before serving.

Serve With

Diced avocado, sour cream, fresh cilantro, shredded Monterey jack or crumbled queso fresco.

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