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.

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 is so delicious & satisfying especially on a cold, rainy day. Another keeper.

    • — Elisabeth Morgan on January 30, 2021
    • Reply
  • As someone who once lived in Florida and then moved away, I first discovered this recipe in the cookbook and wanted to make it for nostalgia’s sake. I love the simple, yet flavorful base with the option of countless mix-ins. I don’t make many pureed soups but this one is often in the rotation for lunches or when I have an excess of rotisserie chicken or avocados which are my favorite to add. An immersion blender really makes this soup easy.

    • — Rebecca S on January 29, 2021
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  • Perfect! We made this exactly as listed with the exception of adding one large chopped jalapeno (no seeds) with the onions and pepper because we like a little extra heat. We used leftover rotisserie chicken. Soup has incredible flavor and is hearty and heartwarming. Love all your recipes, we are never disappointed!

    • — Christine P on January 29, 2021
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  • This is hands down the best chicken tortilla soup recipe I have ever tried. I just made it for a big gathering and had four people ask for the recipe. Flavors are perfectly balanced and the corn tortillas give a depth of flavor. I made it gluten free by thickening with corn starch—works great.

    • — Heather Fest on January 29, 2021
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  • My daughter gave me your cookbook for a gift years ago. Best cookbook ever! I’ve used more recipes in it than any other I own. I’m from AZ but live in Germany and this soup is a comforting reminder of home. I used to live in NM and I use Hatch green Chili powder instead of the red. But only because I have it shipped to me. But it is the only substitute I make. Equally as good though with red. Wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you for your recipes

    • — Ruthann on January 29, 2021
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  • I was flipping through the pages of your cookbook looking for inspiration on what to cook for dinner. This soup was one I had previously passed by judging it to be too simple. But this time I decided to give it a try. I could not have been more wrong. This soup is seriously one of my favorite soups ever. The texture is smooth and creamy, the flavor is rich, just the right amount of spice. So comforting and filling. I did add some shredded rotisserie chicken, but it would have been just as wonderful without it.

    • — Trudy Black on January 28, 2021
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  • I LOVE tortilla soup; this is no exception! Thank you for posting such a delicious recipe. I will be making this again

    • — Rachel on January 28, 2021
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  • It’s cold and rainy today. I made it and it’s delicious! So easy to make. I had left over rosteissere chicken and used the medley of peppers from Trader Joe’s since I didn’t have a fresh bell pepper. To be honest I got a little scared with all that onion at first, but I’m glad I kept going with it. Everyone in my household loved it. Kids are 4, 6 and 8 .

    • — Dolly on January 28, 2021
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  • This chicken tortilla soup has become a favorite staple in our household. We use a fresh rotisserie chicken from Costco and it is always delicious. Also, I do not have an immersion blender, so we use our Bullet. It works just fine. Thank you!

    • — Dana on January 28, 2021
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  • This soup is absolutely delicious! I’ve made and tasted several variations of chicken tortilla soup over the years, but this one tops them all. I used all of the suggested toppings, as they complement each other. I didn’t change a thing. So easy to make and, for me, a comfort food!

    • — Ann Basile on January 28, 2021
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  • Have made this multiple times. Sometimes as written and other times using a roasted chicken from the grocery store. I have to say the roasted chicken added a depth of flavor that was very satisfying. You will love this!

    • — Tracy Kenyon on January 28, 2021
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  • This soup was a HUGE hit in my family. And the hidden (pureed) vegetables in it made this mama’s heart extra grateful, as my elementary-aged kids tend to find any and all veggies in a recipe and conveniently pick them out. It was super easy to make, and delicious.

    • — Emily on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • This soup is a family favorite…. always requested by my son when he visits. I make the base and freeze it then add chicken, black beans, corn etc when I thaw it for a quick dinner.

    • — Linda Scott on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Iv been making tortilla soup for years mine is more of a clear broth, but this recipe you blend your tortilla in the broth and wow the creamy rich broth this recipe makes is a game changer.

    • — Alyssa Campbell on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • My husband is not a spice fan at all — but he adored this soup. It has just enough heat to keep it interesting. I may have slipped in a jalapeño and not told him 🙂 Blitzing the tortillas in there is genius.

    • — JP on December 27, 2020
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  • Hi Jenn could I use a red bell pepper instead of green?Thanks so much

    • — Melissa on October 30, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure!

      • — Jenn on October 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • I am an insecure and often frustrated cook. I really want to be good at cooking, though. I made this and I loved it. My picky husband suggested we freeze and reheat the leftovers, and he doesn’t even eat leftovers. Thank you, Jenn, for giving me the confidence to keep trying new recipes.

    • — Melinda on October 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • 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
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    • 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
    • I could not get enough of this soup. It is unlike a traditional chicken tortilla soup, in my opinion, but still sooooo good. I kept hiding the leftovers for myself!

      • — Michelle K on December 13, 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

    • — 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
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      • 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
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  • 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
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  • 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?

    • Hi Deb, because this has the tortilla pieces, it really needs to be pureed or the texture won’t be right.

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