Chicken Tortilla Soup

I outdid myself this time. I have been chasing after a copycat recipe for a chicken tortilla soup that is served at a local cafe, but haven’t been able to find one that sounded quite right. There are lots of copycat recipes floating around cyberspace which claim to be “the one” which tastes “exactly like” the real thing. Yeah right, and I have the list of The Colonels 17 secret herbs and spices AND I know how to use them. Uhhh, nope.

In short, I gave up on the idea of chasing after that elusive recipe. I have taste buds, they work and they tell me that this is a great recipe for chicken tortilla soup even though it tastes completely different than that afore alluded to cafe soup. Honey Buns and I really like this soup.  Really, a lot, like this soup.

I was baby sitting for the grand younguns last night and they kept me hopping with finding hidden rocks and reading stories and chasing after the next thing that the baby was getting into. It reminded me of when my kids were little. So, when their parental units came and dragged them away kicking and screaming (poor little babies, they were so happy and at peace until mom and dad showed up and started acting like grown-ups with responsibilities towards their young), I got down to making this soup. We ate late, like at 10:00, but it was worth the wait. I had forgotten how good this stuff really is. I hope you like it, too.

Some notes:

  • This soup is very easy to make, it just involves a little chopping and opening some cans. Each ingredient brings something to the party.
  • You can make your own tortilla strips for garnishing, see #6 on the instructions.
  • The chipotle chile powder adds a smoky flavor with a little heat that helps to set this soup apart from the rest of the pack, so be sure to use it instead of regular chili powder.
  • If you don’t want to use a pre-roasted chicken, then you will need about 3-4 cups chicken. You could dice some chicken breasts and saute them with the tortilla pieces, onion, and garlic. (See step #2 in instructions.)

print-2Chicken Tortilla Soup

Prep Time: 20 mins | Cook Time: 65 mins | Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Serves: 10 (2-cup servings)

The rich flavors associated with Mexican cooking come together in this filling soup. Corn tortillas serve several purposes here: they both flavor and thicken the soup, plus they are also used as part of the garnishes. Serve family style so that each person can dress their soup as desired.


  • 8-10 corn tortillas, divided
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large onion, medium diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (14-15 ounce) can red enchilada sauce (I used La Victoria)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn or 1 (15 ounce) can corn, undrained
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chile powder
  • 6 cups chicken broth (I used 6 cups water with 2 tablespoons chicken base. You can also use 6 cups water with 6 chicken bouillon cubes.)
  • 1 roasted chicken from the deli (or Costco or Sams or make your own) or 3-4 cups cooked chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, per taste preference


  1. Tear 4-5 tortillas into chunky, bite-sized pieces.
  2. Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the 3 tablespoons oil, then the tortillas, garlic and onion. Saute until the onions are translucent. Lower heat if necessary to keep contents from cooking too quickly or burning.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, enchilada sauce, black beans, corn, cumin, chipotle chili powder and chicken broth. Stir together well. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, cover pot, lower the heat to medium or medium low. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
  4. While the soup is simmering, chop or shred the chicken meat. Add chicken and cilantro to soup and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
  5. To make tortilla strips for garnish. Slice the remaining 4-5 corn tortillas into 1/4-inch strips. Put them in a baking pan, give them a quick spritz with a cooking spray such as Pam. Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated 375-degree oven or until crisp.Toss the strips around a couple of times while baking. These are for garnish for the soup. Skip this part if you don’t want to use them.
  6. Serve with your favorite garnishes. Suggestions: sour cream; tortilla strips (above) or crushed tortilla chips; cheese such as jack, cheddar or cotija (Mexican cheese–I found mine at Walmart in a separate refrigerated section devoted to Mexican products); chopped cilantro, green onions, or tomatoes; guacamole.


  • The torn tortillas in steps #1 and #2 will dissolve while the soup cooks. This helps to both flavor and thicken the soup.
  • Roasted chicken from the deli brings the richest flavor to the soup, but is not completely necessary. 3-4 cups of cooked chicken meat of your choice can be used. Additionally, raw chicken cubes (bite-sized) could be cooked along with the tortillas, onion and garlic in step #2.
  • Chipotle chile powder has a piquant, smoky flavor. Use it sparingly; it is not the same as chili powder. If using regular chili powder instead of the chipotle chile powder, start with 1 tablespoon and add up to 1 more tablespoon, per personal taste preference.

Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.


A few instructions:
Tear the tortillas into largeish bite-sized pieces.
Over medium heat, saute the tortilla pieces, diced onion, and garlic until the onions are translucent. It is important that the heat is not too high because your ingredients will burn. You will not be happy. I promise.

Instructions for baking tortilla strips:

Cut the tortillas into thinish strips.
Put them in a baking pan. Give them a quick spray with a cooking spray such as Pam. Bake at 375-degrees for about 20 minutes or until crisp.  Toss them around a couple of times while they are baking. You could fry these in oil if you want to, but baking them is much easier and less messy.
The End

 You may also like:

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Hamburger Taco Soup
Hamburger Taco Soup
Pozole Rojo {Slow Cooker}
Pozole Rojo {Slow Cooker}



  1. says

    Jeff & I made the tortilla soup tonight. YUM! I’m a bit of a panty waist with the chipotle but everyone else thought it was perfect. I feel like Julie to your Julia! Thanks for taking the time to type & photograph your recipes–we love them! Oh yeah, and we made the granola this afternoon! See you in a couple of days!

  2. says

    Julie to my Julia–you are so funny.

    As for publishing…Ummm, I’ll think about it. Maybe my kids could do it posthumously. You know, just take all this stuff, print it out, and stick it in a three ring binder.

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