I am obsessed with chicken tortilla soup. I love that warm and savory broth-y soup topped off with crunchy bits of deep-fried tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. Tortilla soup is serious comfort food.
I went through a phase a couple years back when all I would eat everyday for lunch was chicken tortilla soup. A tiny little Mexican place had just opened up in the neighborhood and Mike and I tried it and loved it. Soon, I started begging to go for lunch everyday. I said it was because I wanted to support local and see our neighborhood Mexican restaurant succeed but really it was because I was obsessed with their lunch special: chicken tortilla soup with a mini burrito.
I loved the burrito but the real star was the soup. Deep red with hints of toasty toasty chiles with ALL the toppings. We moved a couple years after my obsession and before leaving, I asked if I could get their recipe. They very kindly gave me a general outline since we were regulars – ever since then I’ve been making this soup at home.
What is tortilla soup?
Tortilla soup or sopa de tortilla is a Mexican soup made from tomatoes, garlic, onions, and chiles. It’s topped off with fried corn tortilla strips. It’s broth-y, warming, and delicious. It can be made with beef or pork but the best and most traditional version is chicken tortilla soup.
How to make chicken tortilla soup
Making tortilla soup is amazingly simple for how delicious it is. They key is to add in a dried chile for some smoky warm heat.
- Sauté: Gently sauté some aromatics like onions and garlic.
- Add: To the aromatics, add in chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes, a dried ancho chile, a chopped jalapeño, and some chicken.
- Simmer: Let everything simmer so the flavors meld.
- Shred: Take the chicken out and chop or shred it.
- Serve: Scoop some soup into a bowl then top it off with crispy tortilla strips (or chips), shredded cheese, avocado, jalapeño, and sour cream. Enjoy living your best soup life!
Chicken tortilla soup ingredients
You can easily find all the ingredients for this chicken tortilla soup at the grocery store. Heck, it’s almost a pantry soup, if you have some staples on had. You’ll need: onion, garlic, chicken broth, fire roasted tomatoes, chicken, tortillas strips (or chips), and some toppings.
- Dried ancho chile – ancho chile peppers are the dried version of poblanos, a slightly spicy Mexican pepper. When dried, ancho peppers are dark red with glossy wrinkly skin. They have a sweet smoky fruity flavor with a warm mild heat. You can find them in the Mexican aisle. They’re used whole to flavor soups and stews and when they’re ground up you get ancho chile powder.
- Fire roasted tomatoes – You can find these canned in the tomtato aisle. Fire roasted tomatoes are roasted over an open fire – they even come with blackened bits – then diced and canned. They add smoky sweet juicy tomato packed flavor to tortilla soup.
- Tortilla strips – The best thing to do is grab some corn tortillas, cut them into strips, and gently fry them in oil until they are incredibly fragrant, crispy, crunchy, and absolutely accidtive. Here’s how to fry tortilla chips [https://iamafoodblog.com/you-need-homemade-tortilla-chips-in-your-life/](https://iamafoodblog.com/you-need-homemade-tortilla-chips-in-your-life/) , instead of triangles, cut them into strips for this recipe. Frying your own tortilla strips is the best option, but if you have a bag of tortilla chips hanging out, you can use those too, which is what I did in these photos.
How to make this the BEST soup
Because tortilla soup doesn’t have a huge long list of ingredients (thank goodness!) it’s important that each ingredient is its absolute best. For me, tortilla soup is all about the add ins and toppings. Here are some tips on how to make the best tortilla soup:
- Fry your own crunchy tortilla strips. I know, I know, the photos in this post have store bough tortilla chips (a travesty!) but be better than me and fry your own tortilla strips. It’s easy: slice a couple of corn tortillas into strips. Heat up a bit of oil over medium high heat. Add the tortilla strips and cook until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil, drain and sprinkle with salt. They’ll be incredible, trust me.
- Have a little topping bar. Scoop out the soup into bowls, then create a little topping bar with chopped cilantro, green onions, shredded cheese, avocados, lime, jalapeños, sour cream, and tortilla strips. This way everyone can add in as much or as little garnish as they like. If you’re like me, it’s all about the toppings!
- Finish with a bit of chili powder. Sprinkle on a tiny bit of chili powder – even better if it’s homemade – for an extra hit of flavor.
Stovetop Chicken Tortilla Soup
Lightly sauté the onion, garlic, and jalapeño in a bit of oil then add the chicken broth, tomatoes, and chicken to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken, shred, add back into the soup, season and serve with the toppings.
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Add all of the ingredients to crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours. When done, remove the chicken, shred, add back into the soup, season, and serve with the toppings.
Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release, remove the chicken, shred, add back into the soup, season, and serve with the toppings.
Creamy chicken tortilla soup
This chicken tortilla soup isn’t creamy, but it’s super easy to add some heft, creaminess, and tang. All you need to do is stir in 1/2 cup softened cream cheese at the end, right before you serve it up. Make sure the cream cheese is at room temp so it blends and melts into the soup evenly.
I love tortilla soup as a meal, but if you want to round it out a bit, maybe add some:
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Warm and savory broth-y soup topped off with crunchy bits of deep-fried tortilla strips, cheese, sour cream, and avocado.
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 dried ancho chile
- 1 jalapeño chopped
- 4 cups chicken stock no sodium preferred
- 14.5 oz fire roasted tomatoes 1 can
- 1 chicken breast or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 jalapeño sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 avocado cubed
- 1/2 cup cheddar shredded
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup tortilla chips crushed
- 2 lime wedges
Stovetop: Lightly sauté the onion, garlic, and jalapeño in a bit of oil then add the chicken broth, tomatoes, and chicken to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Continue to simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken. Crock pot: Add all of the ingredients to crock pot and cook on low for 5-6 hours.Instant Pot: Add all of the ingredients to the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release, remove the chicken, shred, add back into the soup, season, and serve with the toppings.
Just before the soup finishes cooking, prepare the toppings: slice the jalapeños, chop up the cilantro, slice the avocado, and cut the limes.
When the soup is done, remove the ancho chile and discard. Carefully remove the chicken, shred, then divide into bowls. Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, then ladle on top of the chicken. Finish with jalapeños, cilantro, avocado, cheddar, sour cream, tortilla strips, and lime. Enjoy hot!
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 346
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 13.3g83%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.