janet @ the taste space

South of the Border Tortilla Soup (& No Meat Athlete Review+Giveaway)

In Book Review, Mains (Vegetarian) on February 11, 2014 at 7:09 AM

South of the Border Tortilla Soup

With Olympic fever set anew, I felt a tad guilty sitting on my latest find. Perhaps you have already heard about it? Matt’s book, No Meat Athlete: part nutrition advice for athletes, part vegan transition guide, and part cookbook. Matt freely admits he is your typical average guy. No Olympian-in-training, but through his quest to qualify and run the Boston Marathon, he picked up the vegan bug and pushed himself to the next level.

I am certainly no runner. Cycling is my sport of choice. However, his story echoes my own. While learning to best prepare my (formerly?) non-athletic self to cycle a double imperial century ride (361 km/224 mi), I discovered the benefits of vegan foods. I fell hard for the advantages of regular exercise (no pun intended on my knees). At the time, I cobbled together bits and pieces of my culinary and cycling journey through books mainly by Brendan Brazier with a shout-out for women’s cycling guides.

At the time, veganism was not mainstream (and is still not popular – only 2% call themselves vegan in the US) which makes this book perfect. This guide is perfect for the beginner: the beginner to vegan eats, the beginner to fuelling yourself as an athlete and the beginner to running (or any endurance sport).  Pick any of the three and you will glean something from Matt’s quest to inform himself to conquer his athletic goals. This is not to say that if you have any experience in any of these areas you will not gain more information, you might, or it may remind you to try new things, inspire you to run a marathon, or simply eat good food.

His advice for athletes are pertinent for most cardio-intensive sports (like cycling), although he has specific advice for a beginner who wants to learn how to run. The best part is that Matt shares his favourite recipes to fuel you, too.

All of Matt’s recipes are catered to optimal nutrition. Fast, healthy and tasty. Approachable dinner meals like Variations on Beans and Rice (I really liked his Mexican version) and desserts like black bean brownies. He also offers blueprints for creating your own culinary masterpieces: The Perfect Smoothie Formula, Your Own Energy Bar Recipe, or The Incredible Veggie Burger Formula. For the athletes, there are sport-specific recipes like chia fresca, homemade energy gels and homemade sports drink.

Nutrition aside, it must taste good, too, and these do not disappoint.

South of the Border Tortilla Soup

was not joking about eating tacos for breakfast, lunch and dinner. After the tacos were no longer fresh, no longer as soft as a baby’s bum, I resorted to Matt’s recipe: South of the Border Tortilla Soup. Not your typical tortilla soup topped with tortillas, rather the tortillas are blended INSIDE your soup. Before I found corn tortillas in Houston, I considered substituting masa harina/masa arepa, but now I had no excuse. Make thee some Mexican-inspired soup.

Black beans, corn, green chiles, tomatoes, cumin and corn tortillas. All in one soup. Topped with avocado and cilantro. It reminded me of a grown-up version of one of my favourite soups from university: stupid easy black bean and salsa soup. I tried to stay as true to Matt’s recipe for reviewing purposes but his suggestion to pan-fry the tortillas did not work so easily for me. Baking them might actually be easier which is what I shared in the following recipe. In any case, a big pot of delicious soup. For athletes and non-athletes alike.

South of the Border Tortilla Soup
Thankfully, the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom (YES!). To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me what kind of exercise you enjoy or your favourite recipe you have tried (or want to try) from Matt’s website No Meat Athlete. I will randomly select a winner on February 22, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes from No Meat Athlete shared online:

Buffalo Hummus

Chickpea Protein Burgers

Momo Granola Bars

Chocolate Protein Quinoa Bars

The Perfect Smoothie Formula

PS. This is my submission to this week’s Souper Sundays, and to this month’s  My Legume Love Affair, Anyone Can Cook Vegetarian Food and No Waste Food Challenge.

South of the Border Tortilla Soup
Adapted, minimally, from No Meat Athlete

4 corn tortillas, chopped
1 tbsp coconut oil, or oil of choice
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, thawed if frozen
4 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
1 tbsp ground cumin
28 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles (or 2 x 14.5 oz cans), undrained
2 tbsp tomato paste
8 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 x 15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced, for garnish
large handful cilantro, chopped, for garnish

1. (Full disclosure: I tried Matt’s method to pan-fry the corn tortillas but mine stuck to the pan, so I recommend baking them instead). Preheat oven to 350F. Place chopped corn tortillas on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until crisp, being careful not to let burn. Remove from oven and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot over medium heat, heat oil. Once hot, add onion, sprinkle with some salt and saute until softened, around 5 minutes. Add corn and garlic and heat through, around 1 minute. Stir in cumin and toast for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Combine with the vegetables and add tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable broth. Increase heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Add a portion of the corn tortillas to the soup and carefully blend the soup (making sure you allow steam to escape if using a blender) until you obtain the consistency you desire. Using a high-speed blender, it only took me one second, but an immersion blender would work well here. Return the soup to the pot and add the black beans. Warm to your desired temperature.

4. Stir in lime juice and taste. Season with salt and pepper. Top with avocado, cilantro and any leftover baked corn tortillas.

Serves 6-8.
(Matt says serves 8-10, we failed and ate it much faster!)

  1. Hi Janet, First of all I want to say that I love all your recipes, you have such imagination and I love the variety :). For exercise I do The Core Program, which is originally meant for back problems but I find it to be helpful to have amazing posture and great strength. I also do sprints, interval training, just 20 minutes at a time, short and efficient. I loved most of the recipes on Matt’s website but my favorites are: Ginger pear smoothie, Blueberry Rooibos and The Corn cakes with black beans! Thanks! Marisa

  2. Oh yay a giveaway for Canada!

    For exercise I am all about the yoga. Nothing else ever really sticks although I certainly do go through phases. I have tried Matt’s Recipe for smoothies and protein bars AND veggie burgers and I love the templates he created for them!

  3. Yeahhh !!! What a great giveaway !! Thanks again Janet.

    My favorite activity right now is ridding on my stationary bicycle and snowshoeing. As for the recipe I would be really interested in making the one that you suggest, the tortilla soup. Miamm !!!

  4. This soups looks so amazing! Yum!

  5. I love the eliptical machine at the gym and just taking a long walk with my dog, he helps me walk a bit faster to keep my heart rate up. By the way, I love black bean brownies!

  6. Starting kettle ball DVD exercise this week with hubby.Thanks

  7. I love the long lasting lemon lime drink….i have to have citrus in every glass of water i have…this really hits the spot! and my favorite exercise?? i’m a total sucker for p90x and p2…i just love them!!!

  8. Given my weakness for chickpeas, the chickpea granola bars sound fantastic!

  9. I have been using my recumbent bike to exercise lately. My treadmill recently died : (
    Just checked out Matt’s website and became a subscriber. I am thinking of trying his Millet in the Pot with Adzuki Beans and Collards for supper tonight.

  10. Corn tortillas blended in soup?! I could definitely get behind that. I was a cross country runner in school, then had to stop for a few years, started again, got injured and now I’m happily and healthily running again 🙂 Coupled with strength training I’ve found it really boosts my self-esteem and happiness.
    I think this book sounds great for one of my brothers. He’s a keen athlete and I’m trying to teach him about the potential benefits to his performance of a plant-based diet.

  11. My sport is running. I’m training for around the bay in Hamilton. This book would certainly help in my nutrition goals.

  12. I’ve been trying the kettlebells. Still so scared I’m going to drop them!

  13. I love Body Pump class and just weight lifting in general.

  14. I’m addicted to yoga.

  15. I proudly sport my No Meat Athlete running shirt during races! Though I still haven’t checked out this book. Now…it’s a must!

  16. Asparagus Ragout with Polenta is the recipe I would like to try. My exercise of choice is yoga.

  17. I’m really enjoying The Bar Method this winter.

  18. I like to run in the forest with my dogs.

  19. Yoga and paddleboarding! And I want to try the butternut squash and apple juice soup. Mmmm…..

  20. […] we haven’t started training in earnest yet (blasted knees!), reading Gena’s snippet in No Meat Athlete about raw foods, reminded me why it is good to incorporate a variety of foods into your diet. […]

  21. this looks amazing – I am wondering if this might be a good way to use up tortillas if I experiment with making them again and they are not quite right 🙂

  22. I can recommend the Mustardy Portobello Mushroom Pasta – tasty, delicious, healthy and super filling!

  23. What a great giveaway! Thanks for doing it. Because I can’t tolerate corn, I’ve bypassed most recipes with that as a major ingredient. I just had a thought, though: perhaps I can make millet tortillas to bake & blend, and then maybe sub sweet potato for the corn kernels. Maybe I can make a tortilla soup after all…thanks for the inspiration!
    Exercise: horseback riding, hands down. Not allowed right now, as I recover from a (non horse related) ankle injury…so I’m doing lots of isometric work on my ankle, and hoping I can avoid surgery.

    • Hi Linda, Those sound like great substitutions. I didn’t cook much with corn until recently. I usually just left it out.
      Sorry to hear about your ankle.. but here’s to horseback riding! Do you ride English or Western? I used to go riding when I was younger but haven’t in years. 😦

  24. I would like to try the Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas. Sounds yummy!

  25. I’d love to try the Chocolate Cream Pie recipe, it sounds delicious

  26. I have been craving tortilla soup lately and this one looks fabulous. I love them when the tortillas are blended in as it gives the soup such good, thick texture. Yum! 😉 Thanks for sharing with Souper Sundays.

  27. […] dip, black bean tostadas, Mexican zucchini lasagna, black bean and sweet potato tamales and even black bean tortilla soup. And here we go with another Mexican-inspired black bean […]

  28. I am so happy that Matt got a book deal. I followed his blog through his transition from vegetarianism to veganism. I am a big fan of his Adzuki Bean Bacon and also his Electrolyte drink recipe. I am not a fan of exercise, but for a while I liked running.


  29. […] Have you entered my giveaway for No Meat Athlete […]

  30. Chickpea burgers sound great. Also the soup featured here! My husband and I really enjoy biking together and in the mountains, where we live close to.

  31. Thank you so much for submitting this to my challenge, and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you – work has been utterly frantic. I love the look of this recipe, and will definitely be trying it soon!

  32. […] second book from Matt Frazier, the No Meat Athlete, which he co-authored with Stepfanie Romine. I reviewed his first book a few years ago, No Meat Athlete. While his first book had some recipes, it was also a guide for the beginner (endurance) […]

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