Whenever we visit my parents in Longboat Key, we spend a lot of time hanging out at St. Armand’s Circle in nearby Lido. It’s the heart of the island — 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’s. The food’s always good and we love sitting at 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 upon is the chicken tortilla soup. It’s a silky purée of vegetables, corn tortillas, chicken broth and spices with tender chunks of grilled chicken and a nest of tortilla matchsticks heaped over top. I found the recipe in the Tommy Bahama cookbook, Life is One Long Weekend, and while it was easy enough, it called for the equivalent of two sticks of butter. No wonder we all love it! For this somewhat healthier version, I cut the fat in half and tweaked the recipe here and there to make it more home cook-friendly. It’s still delicious.
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. (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.
At Tommy’s, they finish the soup with an artistic drizzle of lime-sour cream, which looks nice but isn’t really necessary. (I’m guessing most of us don’t keep squeeze bottles at home for this type of thing anyway.) Just keep it simple with a dollop of sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, and crushed tortilla chips. Or for a more substantial soup, add diced chicken and avocado. Enjoy!
My Recipe Videos
Chicken Tortilla 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
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Serving size: 1 bowl (does not include toppings)
- Calories: 618
- Fat: 46 g
- Saturated fat: 14 g
- Carbohydrates: 14 g
- Sugar: 3 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 37 g
- Sodium: 751 mg
- Cholesterol: 160 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.