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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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

Powered by Edamam

  • 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, Edamam.com. 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 great! However, I did end up having to add more salt and I added a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to brighten the flavor a little bit more, as well as an extra teaspoon of chicken Better than Bouillon (I had used homemade chicken broth—maybe this batch of broth hadn’t simmered long enough). The tortillas we used were the Mission brand, extra thin ones and I ended up adding 2 more tortillas to get the consistency I wanted. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!!

    • — Ro on May 15, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi! If you use a rotisserie chicken, how much do you recommend using?

    • — Allison on February 20, 2021
    • Reply
    • I’d recommend a generous 2 cups. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this soup! When I first made it i realized during prep that I had forgotten to buy corn tortillas, however I substituted hard-shell corn tacos which worked great!

    • — Allison Gilliam D'Ottavio on February 10, 2021
    • Reply
  • This soup is a family favorite. Our kids (ages 3-12) gobble it up. I always double it and freeze half. We love to add chicken, black beans, shredded cheese, and crushed tortilla chips, but it is wonderful on its own, too. Many thanks for sharing this recipe, Jenn!

    • — Terry S on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have had a favorite chicken tortilla soup I’ve been making for a few years but because I love all of Jenn’s recipes I have e this one a go and it did not disappoint! The ingredients are so simple and it is packed with flavor. I finally bought an immersion blender too and the soup turned out perfectly. I have made it several times now, and cooked my own chicken as Jenn says to do in the recipe book and it’s better than my favorite Mexican restaurants tortilla soup.

    • — Kristen B. on February 2, 2021
    • Reply
  • Love this soup recipe. So authentic.

    • — Rose on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this last night and it was DELICIOUS!!! It was a perfect meal for our rainy weather night. Topped it with sour cream and avocado. A real keeper.

    • — Jacquie on January 30, 2021
    • Reply

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