Chicken Tortilla Soup

The calendar may say it's Spring but the weather outside is still late Winter here-- cold with snow-- seriously?  This soup was the perfect fit into this week's menu to warm our souls.  It is spicy and deep with flavor, but at the same time the broth is light without weighing you down.  

There are a few steps in making this soup; roasting the chicken breasts, making the broth, and frying the tortilla strips.  However, the end result is worth the time and very rewarding.

To the original recipe I add black beans, corn, and hominy to the broth to give the soup a little more body and flavor.  I also roast the chicken instead of poaching it.  Lastly, I add a few more herbs and spices to my liking.  I like to garnish it with diced avocado, chopped cilantro, diced red onion, diced jalapeno, Cotija cheese, and Mexican crema, but you can use whatever garnish you prefer or have on hand.  This is one crowd pleasing bowl of goodness to feed to your family and friends when it is cold outside, when it is raining, or really whenever you're feeling a bit fiesta-y.  That's not a word.  Here's the recipe.  

Chicken Tortilla Soup
serves 6

*any leftover broth can be refrigerated or frozen for another meal

1 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Extra-Virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon canola oil
1 small white onion or half a large, diced
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 medium jalapeno chile, seeded and ribs removed, chopped
1 chipotle chile en adobo halved and seeded, more or less depending on your taste
up to 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce, more or less depending on your taste
handful of fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dired oregano, preferably Mexican
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups of chicken broth
1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15.5 ounce can of white hominy, drained
1 cup frozen corn
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

12 corn or flour tortillas, cut into 3/4-inch wide strips (I prefer the flour with this soup)
Vegetable oil for frying
kosher salt

Avocado, diced
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Red onion, diced
Jalapeno, seeded, ribs removed and finely diced
Mexican Crema or sour cream
Cotija cheese, crumbled or Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 350º F. Place the chicken breast skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through.  Tent the chicken with foil and set aside to rest.  When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces, discarding skin and bones.

Place the onion, tomatoes, garlic, chipotle chile, jalapeno chile, 1 teaspoon of the adobo sauce, cilantro, oregano and cumin in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.  Heat the canola oil in a large dutch oven over high heat; add the tomato purée and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture has darkened in color and thickened, about 10 minutes.  Add the broth, black beans, hominy, corn, and shredded chicken and bring to a boil.  Simmer until heated through.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and adobo sauce if needed.

While the soup is simmering, heat 1/2-inch of oil in a large fry pot to 350º F.  Add a handful of the tortilla strips to the hot oil.  Use metal tongs to keep them from sticking together.  Fry until golden and crisp, about 1-2 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and immediately season with kosher salt.  Continue with the remaining strips.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with tortilla strips, and garnish with the toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from my mother, who adapted it from Cook's Illustrated March 2005



  1. I haven't yet tried this recipe, but this is my hands-down favorite way to eat chicken soup -- I could eat a bathtub full of it! Thank you for the reminder -- I'll try your recipe soon.

  2. This is Patrick's favorite soup! Can't wait to make this one!!

  3. Looks delicious! It's warm (hot) here in my hometown, but i'd like to eat this!

  4. It's been too long since I've had a chicken tortilla soup. Now you've made me want one...

  5. Looks great! I love anything Mexican...but I rarely eat or make Mexican soups...this looks so good though that I think I will give it a go...

  6. I don't wonder why that's crowd pleasing. I kind of want some right now, actually, and it's breakfast time!
    If you have time, stop by, I nominated you for an award!
    Jess = )

  7. I made this recipe last night. I love how easy it was! I left out the jalapenos because of my little girls, but next time I'm adding them as I feel it would have added the perfect spicy kick. Totally loved the soup and can see myself making it again and again. Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I tried this recipe a few months ago and it was so good! When my aunt just told me she wanted to make tortilla soup- this is the one I will have to send to her. Great recipe :) thanks

  9. This is a wonderful recipe! If I go to a Mexican restaurant and chicken soup is on the menu, I always order it. I've tried to reproduce it at home, but haven't been able to get the flavors right until now. I skipped the jalapeno (because I forgot to buy it) and added lots of lime juice at the end.

  10. Saw this on pinterest last weekend and am now making it for the second time! (I ate it all week for lunch.) Since it involves a puree, I snuck in some extra veggies this time (a red bell pepper and half a carrot). We'll see how that goes. Thanks so much for a great recipe.

    1. You are welcome! I love your addition of the red bell pepper:)

  11. Just want to get your permission to post on Pinterst. Thanks.

  12. Loved this recipe. I should say "love" b/c it has now become part of our family collection of favorite recipes. I'm a regular here and very grateful to you for keeping up this blog ;-)


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