Harvest Tortilla Soup with Greens

Yesterday morning I had a dream about my dog, Bailey. A Samoyed with glowing white fur and deep black eyes, Bailey was my companion and protector for sixteen years. In the dream, I had taken Bailey to the vet because he seemed sluggish. The vet confirmed my fear that Bailey was nearing the end of his life—the best thing I could do for him would be to take him to run and play as much as possible. He prescribed joy for Bailey and me.

It’s no accident that I had this dream the morning after what would have been my big sister Ronnie’s 68th birthday. Ronnie died relatively young in 1988. A gentle soul whose life and death were both filled with violence, she was a mystery to me, but I still miss her. As adults our lives were separate, partly due to the gap of seven years in our ages but we also chose different life paths. I went off to college and wandered the world. Ronnie worked most of her adult life as a butcher’s assistant in a grocery store not too far from where we grew up. But we shared the bonds of youth. She and Bailey are long gone, but they will always be a part of me.

Bailey As Puppy, Lake Michigan, Chicago

There’s a lot of unkindness in the news right now. With the election only a few short weeks away, I hope that come November 9 we can move forward toward a more positive and loving national discourse. I hope we can prescribe joy for one another. Stronger together, let’s heal and enjoy life. Let's savor the beauty all around us.

This Harvest Tortilla Soup with Greens is one way to comfort and nurture ourselves. There’s something very unique about a hot cup of soup’s ability to warm the body and the soul. Made with an abundance of vegetables―garlic, jalapeño peppers, onion, tomatoes, and leafy lacinato kale―then topped with cooling fresh cilantro and salty tortilla strips, this soup is a perfect reflection of the hope of the harvest season. Enjoy it with a chilled bottle of wine and a platter of cheeses for a perfect autumn dinner.

I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.


Harvest Tortilla Soup with Greens

Yield: 8 Servings


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, rinsed, and chopped finely with seeds reserved
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, rinsed and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups canned fire roasted tomatoes, chopped with their liquid reserved or 2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 cups broth, chicken or vegetable

For serving:

  • 4 cups lacinato or other kale, rinsed and chopped
  • ½  cup fresh lime juice, from 2 limes
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed
  • 2 cups prepared tortilla strips, crumbled


  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the garlic, jalapeño pepper with seeds, onion, celery, and carrots. Stir the vegetables to coat with oil, then cook over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their liquid and the broth. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. When ready to serve, divide the soup evenly between 8 soup bowls. Divide the kale between each of the bowls, then drizzle the lime juice over the kale. Season with sea salt and garnish with cilantro leaves and crumbled tortilla strips.
  3. Serve and enjoy.


  1. This recipe was adapted from Vegetable Soups by Deborah Madison.
  2. For a heartier soup, add bits of cooked chicken or shrimp.
  3. If you prefer a less spicy soup, leave out the jalapeño seeds or the jalapeño entirely.
  4. If kale is not available, use any greens to your liking. Spinach works well in this soup.
  5. For a full meal, serve accompanied by some steamed brown rice, a platter of cheeses, extra tortilla strips, and prepared salsa for dipping.

Dena Testa Bray has been writing Gathering Flavors, a culinary blog, since 2011. She is a trained chef & ran a home based cooking school. Dena now designs websites, focusing on work with creative people. You can see her website work at www.denatestabray.net. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and family.