Chicken Tortilla Soup

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

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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.

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

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped (about 2½ 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
  • ¼ 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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Comments

  • I’ve made this many times both with and without chicken and it is one of my all-time favourite soup recipes. It’s funny I’ve tried tortilla soup at a few Mexican restaurants and walked away thinking it wasn’t what I imagined. But when I tried this recipe, it was exactly what I’d been looking for. Thank you, Jenn, for sharing your version of this recipe!

    • — Grace on February 27, 2022
    • Reply
  • Loved this soup – added to my winter arsenal of soups. It was a complete meal. I followed the recipe with a few adjustments for my family’s needs/taste. I made it Gluten Free, so I replaced the flour with 1 Tbsp of corn starch mixed with a little water (this also might have helped the over thickening mentioned in the notes). I eliminated all the butter and did NOT increase the oil – I found the butter wasn’t needed, and made the soup a little healthier. I added three cups of chicken to make the soup more like a whole meal/chunkier. I also upped the spices a bit/rounded Tbsps, added a little black pepper and added about 1/2 cup+ of chopped cilantro to the soup at the end. Delicious!

    • — Patti on February 26, 2022
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  • Super delicious and especially easy when using rotisserie chicken! I loved the southwestern flavors. Definitely a keeper.

    • — Lulu on February 22, 2022
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  • This Chicken Tortilla soup recipe is delicious!! Followed recipe as written and wouldn’t change a thing about it.

    • — Megan M. on January 24, 2022
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  • I made this tonight with rotisserie chicken and added black beans. It was amazing! Will definitely make again soon. Thanks Jen. Your recipes never disappoint.

    • — Sue on January 22, 2022
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  • I tried this soup last night–rarely do I post comments but I am so disappointed that I am venting. I followed the exact recipe and even roasted the chicken breasts instead of using a rotisserie chicken. The soup was basically flavorless minus the heat you could taste from the cayenne. Super disappointing to go to all the effort to buy the ingredients, chop and prepare a meal that no one wanted to eat. This will end up being thrown out. I think the error is using low sodium chicken broth instead of regular chicken broth but I won’t be trying this again regardless. Maybe people who don’t live in Texas think this is good. It is not.

    • — Carol S on January 20, 2022
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  • Great tortilla soup recipe! I wouldn’t expect anything less! I added the chicken, a chopped jalapeno, and a little more seasoning at the end. Super yummy.

    • — Kristen Self on January 12, 2022
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  • I just made this soup for the first time yesterday and it is amazing! The corn tortillas add so much wonderful flavor. My 16-yr old daughter said this is one of her favorite soups I’ve ever made!! Thank you for sharing, Jennifer!

    • — Dorothy P. on January 10, 2022
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  • If there’s no tomatoes, its not tortilla soup.

    • — Tortilla soup king on December 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • This was delicious, I will definitely make it again. My family loved it.

    • — L Martinez on November 22, 2021
    • Reply
  • I boiled one large chicken breast with bones and skin and shredded the chicken to add to the soup.
    I strained the broth and used this with enough store bought broth to make the required amount. I did thicken the soup a bit more. We also added tortilla strips when we served the soup.
    I must say this was excellent and my husband asked me to keep the recipe. He is always fussing at me about something but not this.

    • — Tish on November 4, 2021
    • Reply
  • Our first cold front of the season was a great excuse to make Chicken Tortilla Soup today! I added frozen corn, black beans, and used Ancho Chili powder to make it milder. I don’t have a blender so tried using a Bullet. That was messy, so I only blended half the soup. It turned out delicious!!!….will probably do the half-blending again!! Chef Jenn’s recipes make it fun to try new dishes (except I stay up too late at night reading through her recipes and comments 🙂 🙂

    • — Barbara K on October 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn I love this recipe ! I wanted to make today and realize i only have a red bell pepper, will that work?

    • — Melissa on October 16, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure — enjoy!

      • — Jenn on October 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • A great recipe! To please my spice loving palate I added more chili powder, some onion powder and a little granulated garlic before simmering. The small amount of cayenne satisfied my taste for heat perfectly. Appreciated the note with a recipe for roasting chicken breast. It was quick and easy and the chicken surprisingly moist. Will use again in the future.

    • — Mary on October 11, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Was wondering if this could be made with poblano peppers? Would I have to roast the skins first? Btw – ordered your 2nd cookbook – just terrific!! Thanks!

    • — Diane on October 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Diane, Yes, I think poblanos would work here and you wouldn’t need to roast them. And thanks so much for your support with the cookbook! 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • 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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