Cooked: Chicken Tortilla Soup

11 Feb

tortilla soup

This recipe is adapted from this one in Everyday Food. It’s adapted broadly because I have been making versions of this soup for years, but I’ve never managed to hold onto a single recipe, nor commit it fully to memory.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (single chile preferred over blends)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more, if desired)
  • 1 cans (14 1/2 ounce) Rotel or Herdez brand diced tomatoes in juice (leftover fresh salsa is a good substitute)
  • 1 can pureed tomatoes (best quality you can afford)
  • 1 can (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained (any bean can be substituted)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth (reduced-sodium, if canned)
  • 2 (about 6 ounces each) bone-in chicken breasts
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn kernel
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Homemade tortilla chips (see note**)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • lime wedges for serving (optional garnish)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (optional garnish)
  • 2 to 3 green onions sliced (optional garnish)
  • 1/4 Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (optional garnish)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook onion until softened and slightly transparent (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. Add chicken breasts and cover with tomatoes and broth (add up to 1 cup of water, if breasts aren’t submerged).
  4. Bring soup to a boil and then reduce to simmer on low heat until chicken is cooked through (15 to 20 minutes).
  5. Remove chicken from pot and place on a plate to cool. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and shred meat from the bone. Discard skin and bones.
  6. Return shredded chicken to pot along with beans, and corn; season with salt and pepper.
  7. Simmer for 5 minutes more, until beans and corn are thoroughly heated through.
  8. Remove from heat; stir in lime juice, and check seasoning.
  9. To serve: Place a handful of fresh tortilla chips in each bowl and top with soup. Top with any or all of the optional garnishes.

Serves 4


This soup is also good with diced zucchini (add with chicken) and can be garnished with sliced fresh or pickled jalapeno. Monterrey Jack or Cotija cheese can be substituted for Cheddar.

**The home made corn tortilla chips are created by stacking 10 to 12 corn tortillas that are sliced into 12ths using a pizza cutter or sharp knife. These are then fried in small batches in 350-degree oil, drained on paper towels and sprinkled with salt. I use an electric deep fryer, but you can deep-fry in a stock pot, instead. These do not have to be made same day.

The chips can also be shallow-fried in a skillet, but this is harder to do without burning the chips or the oil.

If you’re afraid of oil, but still want to make the chips at home, mist the sliced tortillas with oil, spread on a cookie sheet ,and roast in a 400-degree oven until golden brown (watch them like a hawk and stir them every 5 minutes).


One Response to “Cooked: Chicken Tortilla Soup”

  1. Garrett February 11, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Yea the last version of this soup you made was quite good… I think it may have in fact trumped Corn Chowder.

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