An easy crowd-pleaser, this Instant Pot (or oven) Black Bean Beef Tortilla Soup is loaded with healthy veggies and lots of delicious south-of-the-border flavor!
I always have a hard time passing up a beautiful package of lean stew beef or roast at the grocery store, knowing it can be used for a variety of hearty, delicious soups, stews and chilis. Because of this, our freezer is usually well-stocked with this type of beef; but I've gone through most of my stash over the last few weeks, perfecting this Instant Pot (or oven) Black Bean Beef Tortilla Soup. It's ready for your enjoyment right now and I think you'll love serving it to everyone who enjoys gathering around your table.
My goals for this Beef Tortilla Soup were threefold: delicious and flavorful (or nothing else matters), healthy (necessary after all the holiday indulging) and easy (we all love that). So I tried different techniques and combinations of spices, herbs and ingredients.
I was pretty sure the beef would require browning on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot for maximum flavor, so that was part of my first attempt. But when I discovered I could throw it all into the Instant Pot (or oven) and skip the browning (messy and time-consuming) step without sacrificing flavor or appearance, I did a little high-five to myself, right there in the kitchen!
I even gave the recipe a try in the slow cooker, but wasn't as pleased with the results. The color wasn't as rich and intense and the flavor was inferior. So the slow cooker version got scratched off the list with the Instant Pot and oven techniques getting a tie for first place. Either one works well, so if you haven't made the leap yet for the Instant Pot, you're still good to go for this Beef Tortilla Soup. Just plan to make it on one of those days when you're hanging out at home, as it will take a few hours in the oven.
A kitchen lifesaver
Speaking of the Instant Pot, I've had mine for a little over a year now and have become very attached to it. I feared it might be one of those flash-in-the-pan appliances that would lose its sparkle after a few uses. Not so. It's an incredibly useful and super versatile kitchen workhorse that saves so much time and produces amazing results. The great thing is that Instant Pots are not outrageously expensive and definitely pay for themselves in time-saving and quality of food. There are several different models available. I have the one pictured below.
Honestly, the only thing that will take a bit of time in making this delicious Beef Tortilla Soup is chopping up the ingredients. There's beef, onion, garlic, roasted red pepper, cilantro and corn tortillas that all need chopping or dicing. Yes, corn tortillas are finely chopped and added to this soup along with the other ingredients. As the soup simmers away, the tortillas "melt" into the soup adding a layer of authentic south-of-the-border flavor. They also give the soup broth a nice thickness.
Once the ingredients are prepped they all get thrown into the Instant Pot or into a Dutch oven or soup pot. That's the end of your work! After that, the Instant Pot (or oven) will do the magic, as the ingredients meld and marry into a super delicious soup. Heads up - family, friends, neighbors, maybe even strangers may be lined up as the wonderful aroma fills the kitchen, house and neighborhood. No worries though, the recipe makes plenty!
Café Tips for making this Black Bean Beef Tortilla Soup
- This recipe makes a large pot of soup (5-6 quarts). If you're not feeding a crowd, no worries. The leftovers are wonderful for lunches and quick meals on the run.
- I like to serve this Black Bean Beef Tortilla Soup with warm cornbread (new recipe coming!) and a simple green salad with a honey-lime dressing.
- There is a HUGE difference in the intensity of heat in chili powders, so start out slow. I have one brand that will add a ton of heat with just one teaspoon and another that I can add a tablespoon or more without too much heat. Start with a scant teaspoon and add more, to taste.
- I was never a fan of canned corn until I discovered this Summer Crisp corn. It's sweet and crisp and I tend to use it more than frozen corn in the winter months when fresh corn is not available.
- Don't skip the cilantro in the soup! When cooked, it does not have the same taste as fresh cilantro, but it does add a wonderful layer of flavor.
- Be sure to dice the corn tortillas nice and fine as you want them to disappear as the soup cooks. I usually half a stack of them, then cut each half into small strips, then turn the strips and slice them fine. After I'm all done slicing, I run my knife through them a few more times.
- I like to serve this chili with a squeeze of fresh lime, diced avocado, pickled red onions and a scatter of Cotija cheese and pepitas. Cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, sour cream and/or guacamole would also be delicious.
- The recipe calls for 1½-2 pounds of beef. Feel free to adjust this amount to your family's or guests' taste. I usually use 1½ pounds and that's plenty of meat for us, but I know there are lots of meat lovers out there that might like more.
- 5-6 cups beef broth
- 1 ½-2 pounds lean stew beef or lean chuck roast diced into ½-inch pieces trimmed of extra fat and cut in ½-inch pieces
- 1 large sweet yellow onion peeled and diced small
- 1 12- ounce jar roasted red peppers diced small
- 4 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
- 1 14 ½- ounce can fire-roasted canned tomatoes puréed
- 3 14 ½-ounce cans black beans drained and rinsed
- 5 6-inch corn tortillas finely diced
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ⅓ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 ½ tablespoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons mild paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1-2 teaspoons chili powder start with 1 (see Café Tips above in the post)
- 2 beef bouillon cubes
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 11- ounce can Summer Crisp corn or other sweet, crisp corn, drained
Add 5 cups of beef broth to the Instant Pot. Layer all other ingredients except the corn on top.
Close and seal the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 25 minutes, then allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Vent to release any remaining pressure, then carefully open the lid and stir well.
Add drained corn and stir again. Add more beef broth, if the soup is too thick. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
Serve hot with toppings as desired (see Café Tips in the post above).
To make in the oven, preheat oven to 325˚. Combine all ingredients except for the corn in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Cover and bake for 2½-3 hours or until beef is very tender. Remove from oven and add the corn. Stir well. Add more beef broth, if the soup is too thick. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
See Café Tips above in post for more detailed instructions, serving suggestions and tips.
To make crispy tortilla strips, preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a sheet pan with foil. Stack 6 corn tortillas. Cut them in half and then cut each half into short, thin strips. Toss the strips on the prepared pan with 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 8 minutes and redistributing in an even layer. Bake until strips are golden brown and nice and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool on pan then store in an airtight container.
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