Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

A silky purée of vegetables, tortillas and spices, this chicken tortilla soup is hearty enough to serve as a meal.

chicken tortilla soup

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

Whenever we visit my parents in Longboat Key, Florida, we spend a lot of time hanging out at St. Armands Circle. It’s the kind of place where you stroll in and out of boutiques, people-watch at sidewalk cafés, walk around with drippy ice cream cones, and ask every stranger with a dog if your children can pet it. One of our favorite restaurants there is Tommy Bahama. The food’s always good, and we love sitting around a big round table  under gently spinning wicker fans, listening to a one-man band play endless Jimmy Buffet tunes. We all have our favorite dishes at Tommy’s but one thing everyone agrees on is the chicken tortilla soup, made from puréed vegetables and corn tortillas. This is my version — lightened up a bit from the original but just as satisfying. (Photo above by Alexandra Grablewski, Chronicle Books 2018)

What you’ll need to make chicken tortilla soup

How to make chicken tortilla soup

Begin by heating the oil and butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. (Turn the heat to medium-low if the mixture is browning too quickly.)

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

Add the chicken broth, cut tortillas, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne.

Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Off the heat, then use a handheld immersion blender to purée the soup until completely smooth.

If you don’t have a hand-held blender, let the soup cool slightly and use a standard blender to purée in batches. Be sure to remove the center knob on the blender top and cover with a dish towel to avoid splatters.

Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Stir in the chicken, if using, then ladle the soup into bowls and serve with optional additions. Enjoy!

chicken tortilla soup

Photo by Alexandra Grablewski (Chronicle Books, 2018)

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

A silky purée of vegetables, tortillas and spices, this chicken tortilla soup is hearty enough to serve as a meal.

Servings: 6


For Soup

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 2-1/2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced into quarters
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) low-sodium chicken broth (best quality such as Swanson)
  • 6 small (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Optional Additions

  • 2 cooked skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (see note)
  • Sour cream
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced


  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, and green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and just starting to brown, about 15 minutes. (Turn the heat to medium-low if the mixture is browning too quickly.)
  2. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, cut tortillas, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat, then use a handheld immersion blender to purée the soup until completely smooth. (Alternatively, let the soup cool slightly and use a blender to purée in batches. Be sure to remove the center knob on the blender top and cover with a dish towel to avoid splatters.) Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Stir in the chicken, if using, then ladle the soup into bowls and serve with optional additions.
  4. Note: I usually use leftover or rotisserie chicken for this soup, but if you want to cook the chicken from scratch, you’ll need two bone‑in chicken breasts. Preheat the oven to 425°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Place the chicken breasts on an aluminum foil–lined baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Let cool, then pull the meat off the bone and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. This soup will also keep nicely in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. (If refrigerated or frozen, the soup will thicken up quite a bit, so add a bit of water or chicken broth while reheating to thin it out as necessary.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 bowl (does not include toppings)
  • Calories: 293
  • Fat: 20 g
  • Saturated fat: 7 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 3 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Sodium: 526 mg
  • Cholesterol: 20 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Reviews & Comments

  • This was delicious, Jenn. It was a bit gluey, if that makes sense. What did I do wrong, or what could prevent that? Thank you.

    • — Jennifer on September 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, by any chance, did you make it ahead and refrigerate it? It can thicken up as it sits.

      • — Jenn on September 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • This soup was absolutely DELICIOUS! I made your jalapeño cornbread from your cookbook to go with it, and they went so well together! My only issue was that despite following the recipe to the letter, my soup didn’t thicken. Not even as it sat in the fridge. Not sure where I went wrong, but it was delicious all the same.

    • — Amanda on September 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • I found this recipe while waiting for a check to arrive while at a NYC Tommy Bahama restaurant three years ago. I had just had a bowl of their tortilla soup as my lunch, which I though was the best I ever had. That very evening, I bought all the ingredients and made it for dinner, while theirs was still fresh on my mind. Spot on but healthier.

    Making it again tonight. It is sooooo delicious. Thanks, Jenn.

    • — Patticakes in Darien, CT on September 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Oh never disappoints. Just finished it and added fire roast tomatoes. Yum.

      • — Patticakesdarien on September 21, 2020
      • Reply
  • I actually have the original recipe.
    Yours is very good.

    • — P on September 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • Super excited to make this today! Do you think it would be ok to roast the peppers, onions and garlic? Just trying to cut back on the oil and butter. Thoughts?

    • — Joey on August 2, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Joey, but I wouldn’t cut out the oil and butter completely or the soup will lack body and flavor.

      • — Jenn on August 2, 2020
      • Reply
  • Loved it! I lived in San Antonio for 12 years and fell in love with tortilla soup. St. Armand’s Circle is too far to travel now on a weekday so this recipe hit the spot. And my husband just inhaled a second bowl!

    • — Barbara Armstrong on July 30, 2020
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  • I am so, so, sad. This was literally tasteless….followed recipe to a T. I threw it away.

    • — Jonna on June 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • When that happens I question my chicken broth. Make sure you taste it before adding it to a recipe. Most store bought broths taste awful.

      • — Heidi on July 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • This soup is so easy & quick to make & it is delicious! Thanks again for a great recipe Jenn!

    • — Dana on May 30, 2020
    • Reply
  • Loved this!! I added a chopped jalapeno pepper in the with the veggies for some more heat. I also think this soup REALLY needs some acidity to balance out the flavours, so I added some lime juice at the end. Amazing recipe, though! And super easy. Thank you!

    • — Lisa on May 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jennifer, your recipes are delicious. I have recommended your site to numerous people. As usual this soup was fabulous. Thank you for sharing your God given talent.

    • — Susan Harper on May 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Thanks so much for your kind words Susan! ❤️

      • — Jenn on May 6, 2020
      • Reply
  • Plan on making tomorrow. Since I’m subbing crushed corn chips, what quantity would you recommend?

    • — Eve on April 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi, I’d estimate you’d need about 3 handfuls. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • I made this soup yesterday and had to make one substitution – I didn’t have the fresh corn tortillas on hand so I used corn tortilla chips. The soup was a hit! My husband said he could eat it all day, and the same for my adult son. I did add some leftover rotisserie chicken as you suggested. I love chicken tortilla soups and this one was dee-lish! Thanks for another great recipe Jenn!

    • — Nancy Labus on April 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Another day at home, another Once Upon A Chef recipe experiment!!! Planned to make this today but just realized my tortillas are flour based not corn. Do you think that will be a problem? Thanks for keeping us well fed 😷

    • — Annie Loren on April 24, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Annie, I wouldn’t use flour tortillas but you could use crushed up tortilla chips. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 24, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jen,
        I ended up using corn taco shells and it was phenomenal!!!!! I wish I made a double batch, so so good. Thanks again for another stellar recipe

        • — Annie on April 25, 2020
        • Reply
  • my partner and i loved this soup.I only used half the chilli which was still spicy enough for us.thank you

    • — Dean Johnson on April 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • This recipe looks amazing and I’d love to try it, but I don’t have any corn tortillas on hand. I do have Masa harina… could I use that as a substitution? Thanks so much! Love your website!

    • — Jill on April 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the website! 🙂 I’m not sure how masa harina would impact the texture of the soup, so I’d be reluctant to suggest it – I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on April 5, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!! First of all I apologize for doubting this recipe! 😔 The ingredients are so simple I thought it wouldn’t be as tasty, but boy, was I wrong. This is packed with flavor, that it would put my favorite Mexican restaurant to shame. It is so delicious! And best of all, very inexpensive to make. After a few bowls, I’ve decided to add corn, black beans, and shredded chicken, and voila….a complete meal. Thanks again for a wonderful recipe!

    • — Tina on March 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • LOVED this! So spicy and thick!

    • — Jeni on March 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn we were there on Monday. My wife likes the Macadamia nut crusted goat cheese appetizer. I like their salads and the tortilla soup. We sit on the front balcony and people watch.

    Your email came the next day and I’ve been wanting to try your “inspired” recipe anyway so I did. When I served it something was missing. Then, like a big duh… I realized I’d forgotten to use the corn tortillas!! So, I cut some into small pieces, sautéed them with the same spices then added some broth and let it simmer. Voila! Masa!! I added it to the soup and that indeed was what was missing. The depth of flavor from the corn flour.

    Btw, we live by Portofino, on the north side of the marina, and just finished remodeling our condo. My kitchen, that’s right, my kitchen, has a wonderful island in it now, and proudly displayed on an acrylic book stand is my copy of your book. 😃

    • — Frank on February 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • 🙂 I’m flattered that my book has residence in your cookbook stand!

      • — Jenn on February 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • So flavorful! Another award winning recipe. It can be quick with the help of a roitessere chicken or if you prefer make your own stock. Seasonings are spot on and additional sides make it fun. I also had rice for another side which we enjoyed. I don’t have an immersion mixer so I just pulled out the veggies and put in my Vitamix.

    • — Karen on February 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • This was good. I added rotisserie chicken and used 3/4 of the spices. I didn’t use the pepper since we don’t like them. I only used 6 cups of broth since we prefer a thicker soup. I didn’t blend it. It was tasty with sour cream and cilantro on top. I would have added an avocado too, but it wasn’t ripe yet.

    • — Sunshine baker on February 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • My family LOVED it!

    • — Angie P on February 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • I grew up in Sarasota!! I can’t wait to try this … now, if you could get Walt’s to divulge the smoked fish dip recipe…. 😉

    • — Beth on February 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’m on it!

      • — Jenn on February 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Great recipe! I’ve made it 2-3 times, and my husband and I love it.

    • — Justine on February 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • I made this for a quick dinner when I had last minute guests that came over to watch a football game. It’s a keeper!!! Just enough heat to keep it interesting — but not too much for the folks that can’t take it 🙂 Served with all the suggested condiments and a hot sauce for the spicier folks. If I had more time –would’ve made the monterey jack & jalapeño cornbread; but had to opt for freezer rolls. I don’t know how much it contributed to the final result — but I do use homemade chicken stock. I’ve had the cookbook for a while – and am just starting to try some recipes — the desserts and the adouille sausage and shrimp gumbo are singing me their siren song 🙂

    • — Janice on January 12, 2020
    • Reply
  • I own the cook book and have been making many recipes from it. This weekend I made the chicken tortilla soup. The flavor on it was amazing. The directions were easy to follow and the results exceeded my expectations. Its a winner

    • — Cheri T on December 14, 2019
    • Reply
  • Excellent!

    • — Lisa Carpenter on November 3, 2019
    • Reply
  • Oh my gosh is this amazing! My husband and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t filled with cream and cheese, it was so smooth and creamy-like haha, it really has such a beautiful texture! Thank you for another fantastic recipe 🙂

    • — Natalie on October 27, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe for a family get together at the coast and it was a huge hit. So delicious. I added some rotisserie chicken and black beans. The seasonings used are perfect. I have printed the recipe and will be using it many times again.

    • — nancy on October 19, 2019
    • Reply
  • Thank you for such a great soup. My daughter loves tortilla soup but hates tomatoes in it. This was just perfect with added chicken. I made this yesterday to take to her for her birthday and while that was cooking I made your beef stew for us. Everything was just wonderful. Thank you so much for your recipes that are always perfect. Out of all the food blogs on the internet, yours is by far the best. I have never made anything of yours that wasn’t fantastic.

    • — mary on October 16, 2019
    • Reply
  • Can this be made in an Instapot?

    • — Ellen Bergman on October 13, 2019
    • Reply
    • I don’t have enough experience with it to tell you confidently whether or not/how to convert a recipe to an instant pot, so you may want to take a peek at these tips. It looks like they could be useful in converting traditional recipes to ones that would work in a pressure cooker. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on October 13, 2019
      • Reply
  • With all the great reviews, I was looking forward to this soup last night. I was surprised by how bland it tasted. It had salt, fat and heat, but incredibly lacking in acid. Limes, although pictured, are not included in the written recipe and the juice is needed. I also added Texas Pete/Frank’s Red Hot to add more flavor.

    • — RLynn on October 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • Hello,
    Bought your cookbook recently as a show of support for your awesome recipes and what you share here on your website!
    Why do you say (in your note) that the chicken breasts should be bone-in? Obviously, rotisserie chicken would be the best and then bone-in the 2nd best, but I think boneless chicken breasts will work too! (It is all I have right now.) Also, wouldn’t the chicken be better in the recipe if it was shredded instead of cubed?
    Do you think that a baked potato would be a good side dish for this?
    By the way, thanks for all the “pairing” suggestions you give with your recipes – I love that!

    • — Christina Midvale on October 10, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Christina, it’s fine to use boneless breasts if that’s all you have on hand. (Keep in mind that they will take less time in the oven – I’d bake them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.) And it’s perfectly fine to shred the chicken instead of dice it if you prefer. Regarding a side, I might prefer something like a salad over baked potatoes — maybe this Black Bean and Corn Salad or this Chickpea, Corn, and Red Pepper Salad. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on October 10, 2019
      • Reply
      • Thank you!

        • — Christina Midvale on October 10, 2019
        • Reply
  • Would this be good without pureeing it?

    • — Deb on September 26, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Deb, because this has the tortilla pieces, it really needs to be pureed or the texture won’t be right.

      • — Jenn on September 26, 2019
      • Reply
  • Best tortilla soup I’ve ever made at home or eaten in any restaurant!! Thank you Jenn for such a delicious, easy soup.

    • — Donna Cammack on September 4, 2019
    • Reply
  • Awesome Recipe Jen. Only problem is I can’t order it in a restaurant anymore. Never compares to yours.

    • — Amy on August 26, 2019
    • Reply
  • This soup was really great! My husband and I both enjoyed it, and the leftovers were just as good, if not better! My only change for next time would be to cut down on the oil and butter the veggies sauté in. I found that it was too much and detracted from the rest of the soup. I’ll at least halve that amount next time. Otherwise- it was fantastic!!

    • — Jennifer M. on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • My family and friends cannot get enough of this soup. It is packed with flavor for such few ingredients. When making it at a friends house, she only had chipotle powder. We used this instead of chili powder and we loved the extra spice. I’ve made it many times both ways and it does not disappoint. I’ve also used bouillon cubes and water when I don’t have chicken broth on hand and I leave out the salt. Definitely a favorite!

    • — Courtney on April 11, 2019
    • Reply
  • The best recipe and tastes just like Toomy Bahama’s version! I add a can of fire roasted tomatoes as well.
    Fantastic!! 🥣

    • — Patticakes on March 10, 2019
    • Reply
  • I made this soup for dinner tonight and it was delicious! The flavors are just outstanding I will definitely make it again. I got your cookbook and followed that recipe so wish I would’ve added the flour to thicken but no worries it was still super good!

    • — Cheryle S. on March 6, 2019
    • Reply
  • Honestly…I cannot believe how completely delicious this soup is. Made it the other night, along with the fish tacos (ridiculously good…), and the corn and black bean salad with the chipotle vinaigrette (also wonderful…). But this soup!?! Good gracious.

    • — NavyGirl on March 6, 2019
    • Reply
  • I am preparing for some medical treatment and want to make meals ahead to have in the freezer. It seems this would be a good option, adding the toppings later. Thoughts?

    I haven’t made this recipe yet but a friend recommended with a rave review!

    • — Lauren on February 3, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauren, Yes, I do think this would freeze nicely. See the bottom of the recipe for freezing instructions. Also, I have a category of recipes that freeze well – you may get some inspiration there. Best of luck with your treatment!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2019
      • Reply
  • I purchased your cookbook as I am a big fan of your recipes. I am wondering why you don’t include the flour in your recipe in the cookbook? Will this change the recipe at all?

    • — Stella Hoffman on January 15, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Stella, This is a newer version of the same recipe – the only difference is that the flour makes the soup a bit thicker. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on January 15, 2019
      • Reply
  • Great recipe! Very tasty!

    • — Justine on January 13, 2019
    • Reply
    • I made it with some alterations, and loved, loved, loved it! This is the best soup ever and also now a party favorite in my house! My guests praised it, ate all of it and asked when I am making it again :))

      A few things I did based on my experience (I am known in my circles as the “soup nut” :)) ) :

      1. I make my own broth from scratch. It makes a huge difference, if you want the right, homey flavor in the end product. It is very simple to make: 4 chicken thighs (with bones and skin), 1 whole yellow onion peeled and with slits for the juice to come out, kosher salt to taste and a pinch of black pepper. When cooked, I take out the chicken thighs, take off the skin, debone them – which is really easy when chicken is cooked through. And then I cut up the meet and add it back to the soup AFTER the blended ingredients. I love the taste of chicken chunks mixed in, which adds rich flavor, especially when fresh avocado and cilantro is added before serving.
      2. I replace flour with just corn kernels of two corn sticks that I cook in advance and instead of tortillas, a cup of my favorite blue tortilla chips. You will need to adjust the salt then, since tortilla chips are salted.

      • — Yelena on July 11, 2020
      • Reply
  • Can a Pasilla chili or a poblano chili be added in place of the green pepper?

    • — Nancy Balsbaugh on December 7, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Nancy – I think a poblano would work well here.

      • — Jenn on December 10, 2018
      • Reply
    • Made it today and I used 2 poblanos since I’m not crazy about green bell peppers.
      So delicious! Also made tortilla strips with the leftover tortillas. Quite easy.

      • — Jeanne P on January 1, 2019
      • Reply
  • Delicious and super easy!

    • — Karen on November 24, 2018
    • Reply
  • I’ve been looking for a tortilla soup recipe and decided to give yours a go! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I’ve made it twice for myself (by halving the recipe); however, the second time I accidentally put in double the amount of spices. It still turned out great with a slight kick. When you say to adjust the seasonings at the end of the recipe, are you referring to the salt and/or the spices as well?

    • — Grace on November 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Grace, I’m mostly referring to the salt but you can add more of any of the spices, too.

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn: Could this soup be thickened with cornstarch instead? If so, when would I add it? Thanks for answering the questions we have! Jamie

    • — Jamie on November 8, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Jamie — I’d mix it with some cold water and add it at the very end. You could also use fine cornmeal (or instant polenta), increase the amount of corn tortillas, or reduce the amount of broth to make the soup thicker.

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn: I love your recipes and your new cookbook.
    Regarding your chicken tortilla soup, could you make a suggested substitution for the wheat flour? We are gluten free. Is the flour used to thicken the soup?

    Thank you.


    • — Leslie on October 29, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Leslie, You can just leave it out; the soup won’t be quite as thick but it will still be delicious.

      • — Jenn on October 29, 2018
      • Reply
  • Does it matter if the veggies are diced or roughly chopped

    • — Allison Manowitz
    • Reply
    • No, Allison, it doesn’t really matter; they will just cook more quickly if they are more finely chopped. Enjoy!

  • Jenn,

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been making your Potato/Leek and Black Bean soups over the past week which are thicker, but I just made this recipe exactly as written and found it seemed a bit watery.

    Any suggestions for adding a little more body to it, similar to the photo?

    • Hi Steve, I would simmer it uncovered for a while. If that fails (or you’re in a hurry), you can make a smooth paste with 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon softened butter. Whisk it into the hot soup, let it simmer for a few minutes, and it will thicken right up. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks. Between the roux and an addition 6-7 minutes uncovered at a low boil it now just coats the back of a spoon and holds a line when I run my finger through it.

  • Wonderful!
    I used a yellow pepper and it gave it a warm color to go with the warm texture and great finish!

    • — Christopher Lenk
    • Reply
  • Are the corn tortillas added during cooking both for flavor and to thicken the soup?

    • That’s right – they add nice flavor and texture to the soup. Hope you enjoy!

  • Could I use the “soft corn” tortillas which are part corn part flour tortillas?

    • Hi Thessaly, I think that’d be okay. Please lmk how it turns out.

  • For those who added corn & black beans…did you add it at the end or blend it up with everything else? Making this tonight, looks awesome!

  • Thought we had the best tortilla soup recipe. This one is Delish!! Our new favorite. Made just as described and made a great meal!

  • This soup is so good! I would be pleased with this if it was served to me in a restaurant. As a matter of fact, it is better than most tortilla soups I have had in a restaurant. It is as good as my favorite, which thanks to you, I can now make at home! Thank you for sharing!

  • This recipe has been my go-to for at least a couple of years. The recipe is good as is but I find that sautéing the tortillas in the very beginning adding more to the flavor. I also fry some tortillas to add some crunch in the end. I serve with avocado and chopped cilantro

  • This recipe was a huge hit in my household. I am a soup lover but my husband is only an occasional soup eater and my 5yr old has never been a fan. This recipe changed that. They both request it and often.
    I follow this recipe exactly and then modify the toppings based on what I have on hand(avocado, chicken, sour cream,squeeze of lime, etc.). I find it very forgiving too so I have added less/more peppers/garlic/onion because of how much I had and it comes out perfect regardless. It freezes very well and I freeze before adding any extras. I have just started a low carb/no sugar diet so I need to find a way to make this with no corn tortillas or less. or just eat it as a cheat meal 🙂

  • This is one of our favorite weeknight meals. It’s affordable, simple to prepare and delicious! I substitute red or orange peppers for the green, because I just simply prefer the taste. I do also add chicken and avocado. I use two organic chicken breasts and roast with olive oil, salt and granulated garlic. I love what it adds to the soup. I completely forgot about the chicken one night so we ran to the store for an emergency chicken, cut it up and it did the job pefectly! And, don’t forgot crushed tortilla chips and the dollop of cream (I use whole plain yogurt). It’s an all time hit and my children are excited every time they see it waiting for them at dinner time. 🙂

  • Love your recipes! chicken tortilla soup is one of my husband’s favorites and this recipe really knocked it out of the park! He loves spicy food and I’m wondering how to increase the heat without changing the flavor too much? Would substituting a poblano pepper for the green pepper work well? Or do you think just increase the cayenne pepper at the end?

    • Hi Autumn, so glad you like the recipes! A diced jalapeño pepper would work well – you could add it with the green peppers (add the seeds at your discretion – that’s where most of the heat is). As you mentioned, you could also increase the cayenne pepper. Hope that helps!

  • Another delicious recipe 🙂 I have cooked more than 20 of your recipes and can say you are by far my fave food blogger. You have a gift for impressive, delicious recipes that are simple enough for even beginner chefs to follow. I think I learn something with every new recipe I try. Also, just pre-ordered your book, can’t wait!!

    • Thanks so much, J! I’m so happy you’re enjoying the recipes and appreciate your support. 😊

  • While the taste was similar to Tommy Bahamas it was not the same. Also this soup is very thin whereas Tommy’s is thick. Still a good soup.

  • I made this over the weekend and it’s delicious.

  • I have some tortillas that I bought from the refrigerated section. They aren’t cooked yet. Should I cook them first or will they be okay by just adding?
    Here’s an website to the tortillas:

    • Hi P, if you’re referring to the tortillas that go into the soup (and not the tortilla chips that are a suggested garnish), then, no, they do not need to be cooked.

  • This soup was my saviour while i was sick. So good!

  • I made and served this soup without adding cooked chicken, and everyone commented on how delicious it is. This simple recipe packs a powerful flavor punch!

    I served my husband’s friend the last remaining portion of this soup when he dropped by yesterday, and he described it in the same words my son’s girlfriend had used the night before (as she heated up a second bowl): “This tastes just like a liquid chicken enchilada. It’s so good!” ‘Nuff said.


    We had a group of college students over the other night, and I decided — even though I hadn’t tried every recipe I chose — to trust for most of the menu. Here it is, with asterisks in front of Jenn’s recipes, in case anyone would like a fun party menu:
    -raw veggies
    -corn chips (the Xochitl ones in Jenn’s photos)
    -Jack’s salsa (*Roasted Tomato Salsa would probably be great here!)
    *Black Bean Dip
    *Green Pea Guacamole

    *Chicken Tortilla Soup (inspired by Tommy Bahama’s)
    *Best Ground Beef Chili
    *Broccoli & Cheese Soup with Homemade Croutons (NOT in line with the rest of the flavor profile! I just had to use up broccoli and made this in case of vegetarians, lol. *Black Bean Soup would have been a much better menu choice.)
    TOPPINGS for the first 2 soups: crushed tortilla chips and diced avocados (plus shredded cheddar and beans for the chili)

    -fruit salad
    *Nutty Jam Thumbprints (*Coconut-Lime Mexican Wedding Cookies would also be great here!)
    *Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue Topping (To fit this menu’s flavor profile even better, I think this cake would still work well with a little cayenne pepper.)

    DRINKS (non-alcoholic, since we were serving underage kids, but I bet Jenn’s *Mojitos and *Margaritas would be great with this menu)
    – mango lemonade; limeade; and lime-coconut seltzer water

  • Awesome Soup. Prepared this soup according to the recipe and it was really one of the best soups I ever ate. I highly recommend the recipe. Thanks Jenn!

  • I replaced the chili powder with ancho chili powder and held back a little of the cumin (as I don’t like spicy foods). Was surprised at the corn tortilla step – would have never considered doing that, but nice flavor and texture. Wish the overall color was more appealing, but I really did enjoy the dish.

    • One more comment . . . I just sprinkled the chicken breasts with Goyas all purpose seasoning and then sautéed until cooked through. I then let it cool and shredded to add to the soup. I would think a rotisserie chicken would be a quick alternative. This recipe will go on my soup rotation.

  • Hi Jen,

    Do you think a vegetarisn version could work? Can I substitute chicken broth with vegetable broth and just skip the chicken or put it as a garnish for the meat eaters?


    • Sure, Jenny, I think that would work!

  • Found this recipe to be quick, easy and delicious. I made it as written and tasted it–yummy. As it was simmering I discovered some leftover roasted winter vegetables in the back of my refrigerator (sweet potato, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips). I decided to add about a cup of these and used my immersion blender to puree them in. In addition I added another cup of the diced, cooked veggies. The vegetables added another dimension to the soup that I liked a lot. It no longer was a traditional tortilla soup but I loved the balance of the Mexican flavors with the subtle sweetness of the vegetables. Recipe is a keeper.

  • I think that the calorie count is way too high here (i.e. Miscalculated not a bad recipe!) my guess is by a factor of 2.

    • Hi Sue, Because I’m not a nutritionist, I use an online tool to calculate the nutritional information for the blog. When I plugged in the ingredients for this recipe, those were the results. I just checked it again and am getting the same numbers. I agree that the calories look quite high; my guess is that much of that comes from the olive oil and the butter, so you can cut back on those a bit if you choose.

  • Great Recipe taste just like the bowl we had @ Tommy Bahamas . We added Corn ,Black Beans & chopped up jalapeño peppers . NICE

  • Hello Jenn,
    Thank You for the great website and for sharing your wonderful recipes. Your Roasted Beef Stew and Carrots is now my ‘All time Go-To recipe. The last time I made it, I had to eliminate the red wine, so I simply replaced it with the same amount of Beef Broth.

    I am looking forward to making more of these soup recipes. It seems that I can make adjustments to lower the sodium content in a lot of them though, by using home made chicken broth instead of the pre-packaged one. I am assuming the broth is the main source of sodium??

    Keep up the good work. Everything is always full of flavor!!

    Happy Spring,

    • Happy Spring to you Sue! While it depends upon the other ingredients in the recipe, the broth often contributes a significant amount of the sodium. Hope that helps!

  • Loved this! Great great great recipe. I substituted 1/4 of a bell pepper with a jalapeño for added heat. Added corn and black beans as suggested.
    Question: do you think this would freeze well?

    • Yes Tori, I do think it will freeze nicely. Enjoy!

  • Hi Jenn, I decided to give 1 1/4 cups of masa a try instead of tortillas because the recipe looked SO delicious….and I was too lazy to go to the store! Although I’ve never tasted the original soup, my entire family, including my picky 4 year old, absolutely loved it! The soup definitely had some thickness to it, but not gloppy at all. Next time, I might try reducing the masa amount to just one cup. Thanks for all your recipes!

    • So glad it turned out with the masa Tanya- thanks for letting me know!

  • Hi Jenn, If I don’t have corn tortillas on hand, would I be able to use masa? If so, how much would you suggest?

    • Hi Tanya,
      I’d be reluctant to suggest that here, because I’m not certain how it would affect the texture and wouldn’t know how much to suggest– sorry!

  • I had never had tortilla soup, but LOVED the concept of it and have been looking for a recipe for a while. As usual….I found a LOT of recipes where the author tried to add their own special flair to what should be a relatively simple soup. I was so excited to find your recipe and it absolutely did not disappoint!! I’ll definitely be making this again!!

  • Have you made this soup without the tortillas and if so did it drastically change the flavor of the soup?

    • I’m afraid that making the soup without the tortillas would definitely change the flavor and texture of the soup– sorry!

  • I love this soup! I have made it several times. Do you have any nutritional information on it?

    • Hi Janet, Glad you like it! I just added the nutritional info. Keep in mind that the numbers don’t include any of the optional ingredients/toppings.

  • Very good recipe. So much easier than what I have been making over the years with dried and charring vegetables. This imparted just as much flavor and my husband said it is one of the best he has tasted. I did add a couple of cups of super sweet corn I put up over the summer and a can of Trader Joe’s Cuban black beans drained. Just a personal preference for more substance to the broth.

    • — Rochelle Shugrue
    • Reply
  • I made this for dinner tonight because after all the Thanksgiving feasting, I definitely needed something on the lighter side!

    I followed the recipe exactly and my husband and two teens loved this. I thought it was yummy and appreciated its simplicity to prepare and get on the table. Due to the cook time, it does take about 45 minutes to an hour to prepare, but that’s mostly cook time so while it’s not an instant dinner, it is easy and doesn’t take a lot of my attention. This recipe is definitely a keeper!!

  • I can not wait to try this recipe. I don’t have, but want, an immersion blender. What brand do you use? Is it electric or battery operated?

  • Hi Jenn – I love your recipes! What would you recommend pairing with this soup for serving?

    • Hi Rachael, I actually serve this soup as a main dish (sometimes I add rice to it as well) and serve with corn bread muffins.

  • Wowie-wow-wow! This was delicious! Thanks for the great recipe.

    • Made this again and really, can’t put into words how much I love this! It does not taste easy! I’m seriously dreaming about it… come to think of it, I might have a problem… It’s full-bodied, easy to customize and packed with flavor. I have added beans & corn. I have pulled out some of the dice before blending it and adding it back in, so it has some extra ‘junk.’ I’ve served it with all the garnishes and with only a few. I’m bringing it to a neighborhood Halloween party. I expect to bring home an empty crock pot! We will be eating this until May! Thanks again!

  • Fantastic! Didn’t change a thing! This will become a regular on my menu. Chopped up some chicken for my toddler and he loved it. Love that you can be pretty careless with how big you chop up your veggies because you’ll puree them in the end anyway. Thanks Jenn!

  • This is the BEST Chicken Tortilla Soup I have EVER eaten! Absolutley fabulous. The only thing I changed was substituting a Sweet Red Pepper for the Green Bell Pepper.

  • Make this soup the day before you eat it…it develops and marries all the flavors…I added a few shakes of crystal hot sauce (crystal gives depth,but isnt all that hot).
    Also added a dollop of sour cream to the garnish, with four blend shredded mexican flavor cheese…and chopped rotisserie chicken as it was our main course…..fabulous!

  • Loved how easy it was to make on a workday! The corn tortillas added a nice flavor and a satisfyingly thick texture. I added just a dash of red pepper flakes. This is now a family favorite!

  • Delicious, fun, festive, and a family favorite!

    The immersion blender makes these soups so easy to make. Transferring to a blender is a hassle and you can find an immersion blender that will get the job done for $30.

  • Hi Jenn. This soup sounds absolutely delicious and I would love to make it tomorrow night for dinner (with the garnishments and all)! I do not have an immersion blender and will need to put the soup in my kitchenaid blender. Does the entire pot of soup need to be blended? I’m guessing 2 cups at a time?

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Hi Aminah, This is one of my favorites — you will love it! Yes, the whole soup does need to be blended. You can do it a few cups at a time; just be sure the hole is open in the lid to allow the steam to escape and cover with a dish towel.

  • I was pleasantly surprised to find this was so easy to make and so very delicious! I will surely make this again.

  • My daughter has a peanut allergy and with the recent recall of cumin due to contamination with peanut proteins, I was wondering whether that spice could be omitted or substituted?

    • Hi Julie, I’m afraid the soup might be a little bland without the cumin, as it’s the main seasoning in the soup, but you could try substitute more chili powder and some ground coriander.

  • This soup is easy to make and extremely flavorful! The butter in it gives a very rich taste. The soup was good without anything in it but my husband loved it filled with chicken, cilantro and avocado.

  • I made this soup for a friend who came out of the hospital and had strict dietary restrictions. He, and his family, loved it! I loved it too, I didn’t know I liked tortilla soup! Super easy and quick as well.

  • I made a double recipe of this soup to serve to the crowd after a snowshoe race today. It was delicious and the optional toppings were fun, especially for a larger group with varying tastes. I made it exactly as written, and serve with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips (plain and spicy). I will definitely make it again, but will probably try reducing (or even leaving out) the butter; I think it would still be great with the lower fat content.

  • Another hit! I made this last night, to rave reviews from my husband and three kids (ages 13, 10 and 8 — although it was a little spicy for the youngest). In our house, we rate new recipes as “keepers” or not, and this goes in the keeper pile. I served with homemade corn muffins, hot out of the oven.

  • I made this soup with a few changes. Decreased the fat to 1TBSP oil, 1TBSP butter, omitted all the added salt and let guests add their own (plenty of salt in the broth), and used leftover turkey instead of chicken. As suggested, added avocado and cilantro and chips. It was really great. Made my own tortilla strips by cutting corn tortillas and baking at 350 for about 15-20 minutes.

    • What a great way to use leftover turkey. Thanks, Karen!

  • I was recently in Maui and we ate at Tommy Bahama’s in Wailea. Had this soup and searched for the recipe the day after we got home it was that good. THANKS 🙂 Gonna try to make it very soon

  • This is my husband’s favorite soup! I add just a little extra chili powder because he likes it spicy!

  • Last year I had tortilla soup at Tommy Bahama’s in Scottsdale,AZ.
    It was so delicious, I had to find the recipe. The recipe Jenn has posted here is it! This soup is so easy to prepare, tasty, healthy and loved by my family.
    I cut up corn tortillas and bake the strips to use as a garnish. Chopped avocado in the soup is my favorite! It’s so easy to keep ingredients on hand.

  • This is amazing! Family loved it and so did my coworkers when I took it the next day. i didn’t purée just simmered for hours. Still amazing! Thanks.

  • This is a real winner!! I make it often. I garnish with shredded cheddar and chopped cilantro.

  • Thank you Jenn! Can’t wait to make it:)))

  • This soup is flawless and spectacular! If you like Chicken Tortilla Soup – this is the recipe you’ve been looking for! I squeeze a little lime on top and add a nice dollop of sour cream (in addition to the avocado and tortilla chips). Make this soup! You will not be disappointed!

  • Thank you Jenn! I also can’t eat bell peppers any more:( any flavor suggestions? Will it be boring without it?

    • Tami, It will still be good. I would just substitute another vegetable, like a carrot.

  • Hi, this soup sounds fantastic! I can’t eat nightshades: red pepper, cayenne, chili. Any substitutes you can think of?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi Tami, You can just leave out the cayenne and chili powder. It won’t make a big difference. You might add a 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and some other form of heat. Not sure if you can have jalapeño peppers, but you could add one with the green peppers in the beginning if you’d like the soup to be spicy (add the seeds at your discretion – that’s where most of the heat is).

  • May I suggest poaching the chicken breast in 4 cups of water, with a bay leaf and some whole pepper corns, instead of baking it. That’s what I did, and used the poaching water for 1/2 of the stock. Fantastic recipe thank you.

  • Would not change a thing. Awesome soup

  • I made this and was so proud , it looked so good before puréed I hated to do it but it was worth it! Yum!!

  • I had this soup at Tommy Bahama in Manhattan, NY on Sunday. When I got home I looked for the recipe and found yours. Delicious, just like Tommy Bahamas. Evelyn

  • I’ve made this soup three times in the last month and it’s been so delicious every time!

    I have Celiac Disease, so I substitute 3 cubes of gluten-free chicken bouillon + 8 cups of water (instead of the boxed chicken stock) and use a dash of ground fresh chili paste instead of the chili powder. I’ve also started cutting back on the amount of butter – the last batch I made used only 2T and there was no discernible change in taste.

    A BIG winner in our house! Thanks, Jenn!

  • I loved the tortilla soup. I’ve never been to the Tommy Bahama restaurant so I couldn’t compare it to that, but it was better than the ones I tried in Arizona and New Mexico.

  • This soup is delicious. We’ll be going to Lido Beach at the end of July and can’t wait to eat at Tommy Bahamas.

  • Hands down, the absolute best tortilla soup recipe on the planet! E.V.E.R.

  • I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been making this soup for a year now and every time I make it, I think about eating at the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Naples, FL.
    This soup is so easy yet the flavor is huge. Whenever I have a baked chicken on hand, this is the first recipe I think about for the leftovers.

  • One of my favorite soups. Can’t wait to try your version!

  • Yum!!

  • We love Tommy Bahamas in Long Boat Key. I was excited to try this soup and was very happy I did! Delicious.

  • I love the creaminess and richness of this soup. It is also very good with chicken and tortilla chips.

  • This soup is so good & so easy.
    I get so many compliments every time I make it. The corn tortillas give the perfect amount of thickness. A Costco rotisserie chicken is perfect to add at the end. Yummy!

  • my family loves this recipe! delish!

  • All I can say is YUM!! One of my favorite things in cold weather- soup and Mexican food and with this recipe I get both!! 🙂

  • I love this soup and how easy it is to make!

  • This was SOOO good!!! My husband was raving about it the whole time he was eating, and he asked me to make it again when we have company tomorrow. I broiled some boneless, skinless chicken breasts (which only took about 15 minutes), shredded them, and added them in at the end. Thank you so much for another winning recipe, Jenn!!!

  • The stock of this soup looks delicomma and I plan to make it tonight. For my taste I think I’ll add roasted corn and black beans along with the chicken. I’ll let you know how the final product tastes!

  • I love this soup!

  • This looks great! Can’t wait to try it!

  • We make a very similar soup.
    No added salt or butter, but we add skinless chicken to soup while it simmers with chopped cilantro stems and a can of enchilada sauce. Remove the chicken and puree soup. Shred chicken and add to soup, top with chopped cilantro leaves, tortilla chips, avacado, jalapenos…

  • We made this soup last night, preparing for the snow storm. It is FANTASTIC! We love the blend of flavors. I’ll definitely be making this recipe again, soon. Great for lunch the next day too.

  • The soup was good! Very tasty…I loved it with the avocado — really balanced out the flavor. I brought some on for lunch today 🙂

  • I love St Armands Circle and my husband loves his Tommy shirts. This soup looks wonderful..perfectly soul warming

  • Tommy Bahamas is my Favorite restaurant in Long Boat Key as well! I am obsessed with their fish tacos, if you get a chance try them next time

  • Hello, love your blog and this is a great recipe!

    Have you ever blog hopped before? We’d love it if you contributed this awesome soup recipe, it’s a great way to get links back to your site. Really easy too.

    You can check out our blog hop here:


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