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Savory & Smokey Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is easily one of my top 5 favorite soups.  I’ve had it at restaurants, at friend’s houses, in the can, my mom’s version, and all of them were delicious.  In my own kitchen, I’ve never quite gotten it right, at least for my own taste, until now.  I tweaked, edited, adapted and wrote it all down as I went.

The process

The process

This is a super easy soup and you can have it on the table in 30 minutes or less. The crummy thing about this batch though - half way through I realized I didn’t have avocado - which annoyed me to no end.

Chicken Tortilla soup sans avocado.  Unforgivable, really… but I already had a glass of wine when I was whipping this up so obviously not going out in the car to get one.  I decided to press on and go without.

The homemade, pan-fried corn tortilla strips are an important step I think.  In a pinch you could use store bought tortilla chips, but if you have 10 minutes - give this a try.  You’ll be glad you did.  They hold up in the soup and won’t turn to immediate mush like a tortilla chip would. They are thicker, denser, more flavorful and give this soup some body.

Watch out for these babies though - they are an addicting nibble, especially if you’re having a glass of wine or beer while you’re cooking this up.  I would suggest you get these going closer to the end of when the soup will be done…or at least 1/2 way through - otherwise they could be gone by the time it’s ready to plate up.

Corn tortilla strips

Pan fried corn tortilla strips

Garnish your soup with a fresh slice of lime, a dollop of Mexican Crema, or sour cream, a sprinkle of Cotija cheese and a touch of chopped cilantro.  It’s bueno magnifico.


Chicken Tortilla Soup with garnish

Chicken Tortilla Soup with grated Cotija, sour cream, and fresh lime

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6 generous portions
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients: (in order of use)

  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or canola oil, or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 can chopped green chilies with liquid (7oz can)
  • 1 can corn, drain only 1/2 the liquid
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid, 14 oz (I like Hunt’s Fire-roasted)
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeño, finely minced (optional)
  • 5 cups chicken stock (or 4 cups and 1 cup water), I like no salt variety
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, roughly chopped
  • 10 corn tortillas (white or yellow corn is up to you)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil for frying
  • salt
  • Garnishes:  1 cup chopped avocado, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, sour cream or Mexican Crema, grated Cotija cheese, or chunks of Queso Fresco, (even grated parmesan would work in a pinch).


  • In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, sauté the chopped onion in the oil.  As the onion starts to turn opaque and then get a bit of color, turn the heat down to medium and add the oregano, cumin, pepper and chopped garlic.  Stir for 2 minutes, don’t let it burn, you’re just coaxing the herbs into releasing their fragrance.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-high again and add the green chilies with the liquid, corn (with 1/2 the liquid), rinsed black beans, can tomatoes and the jalapeño.  Stir to combine and marry these flavors a few minutes.
  • Add the chicken stock, stir, then add the cooked chicken.
  • Bring to a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low to low (depending on your stove) and put a lid on it.  You want the soup to simmer slightly but not boil.
  • Do a taste test in about 10 minutes.  Everything is essentially cooked,  you’re just trying to get the flavor to your preference.  Add a bit more cumin for a more smokey flavor, or a bit of salt & pepper.  It’s up to you!
  • While the soup is simmering, in a separate medium sized frying pan, add the 1/4 of oil and heat over medium-high.
  • While the oil is heating, cut the corn tortillas into 1/2 inch to 1 inch strips. Just keep them in a stack and slice through.  Place out paper towels nearby as a landing pad for the tortilla strips and salt at the ready.
  • When the oil is shimmering, fry the strips in batches, they cook very quickly, turn & remove from the oil as soon as they are the color you like.  Place on the paper towel and immediately sprinkle generously with salt.  Set aside and try not to eat these now.
  • Get your garnishes ready and set out the soup bowls.
  • Plate up the soup, add a few tortilla strips, garnish with what you like, grab the beverage of your choice and enjoy!

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