Fiesta of Flavor: Chicken Tortilla Soup

January 12, 2010

I’m a sincere lover of Mexican food – I crave it at least twice a month.  When I was in college, I would indulge at the local taquería in muy grande burritos and never gain a single ounce.  These days, if I so much as look at a burrito sideways, I gain five pounds.

Two years ago, Mr. CG and I were dining at our favorite local Mexican food restaurant.  He ordered the chicken tortilla soup.  I tried it for the first time, and fell in love.  All the flavor of a delicious taco, in a bowl, but healthier and lower in calories ?  Sign me up, señor.  Since the restaurant was reluctant to share their recipe, I spent over a year trying to capture the same flavor by tweaking my own recipe for sopa de tortilla de pollo.

On a cold winter day, there’s nothing I want more than a hot bowl of soup  And a nap.  But the latter is not happening.  Here’s my recipe for ‘taco in a bowl’.  It’s yummy yummy to your tummy.  Muy bueno.  Enjoy.

Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup crop

Pantry (Dry) Ingredients

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Four 14 oz. cans chicken broth (or equivalent with bullion)

1 package taco seasoning

1 tbsp red taco sauce (mild or medium)*

4 oz. can diced green chiles (mild or medium)

6 oz. can tomato paste

8 oz. petite diced tomatoes – half the can and completely optional

3/4 tsp ground cumin

*add another tbsp taco sauce if you like it spicy

pantry ingredients side

Fresh Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

14 oz. water

1 medium onion – finely diced

1.5 cups diced celery

1.5 cups diced carrots

1.5 cups roasted or frozen kernel corn

4 corn tortillas

1 cup shredded jack cheese

Sliced avocado (optional, if available)

Fresh cilantro (optional)

fresh ingredients

Start by dicing your onion, celery, and carrot.  In a large pot or dutch oven, soften your onion, celery and chiles in 1 tbsp vegetable oil for 3 – 4 minutes on medium low heat.

soften onion celery chiles

Add chicken broth, and then fill one can with 14 more ounces of water and add to pot.

broth and water

Add carrots, corn, tomato paste, taco sauce, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low. 

Meanwhile, coat your chicken breasts in taco seasoning.

coat chicken in seasoning

Grill chicken breasts on an indoor grill or a panini maker for 6 to 8 minutes.  You can also broil in your oven for the same amount of time, but to me, the grilled chicken tastes better.

grill chicken indoors

Once cooked, dice your chicken into chunks, then toss into soup pot.

dice chicken dos

Cook soup on low for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ten minutes before your soup is done (or before you intend to serve) thinly slice your corn tortillas.

corn tortilla thin strips

Toss in pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, and stir on medium heat until lightly browned.

tortillas in pan

Soup can be made one day in advance, stored in fridge and reheated.  Serve hot by garnishing with fresh corn tortilla strips, shredded jack cheese and fresh avocado slices (if available).

chicken tortilla soup

Other optional garnishes: fresh chopped cilantro, squeeze of lime, sour cream, or diced fresh tomatoes.

One note on ingredients:  If celery, or diced tomatoes, or corn is not your thing, then simply leave it out.  No worries, amiga.  The great ‘taco’ flavor comes from the combination of the liquid ingredients and the dry seasonings.

This recipe serves six.  Total calories per serving: 300 including garnish of cheese and tortilla strips.  Add another 60 calories per serving for the avocado.  But it’s worth it.

Quiero sopa de tortilla de pollo.  Y usted?


43 Responses to “Fiesta of Flavor: Chicken Tortilla Soup”

  1. adrienne says:

    I made chicken tortilla soup for the first time this week. I used adobo sauce and a few chilis from that can for the seasoning. I used a frozen bag of grilled corn form Trader Joe’s. And I just put the chicken in the crockpot for the day and then shredded it in about 2 seconds for the soup. Awesome! Thanks for sharing how to make those little tortilla ribbons. I wondered about that.

  2. Kristen says:

    Avocado is ALWAYS worth it. :-D This could easily be a vegetarian success on its own, or with a can of beans added!

  3. Raru says:

    Wow. Looks so delicious. Thank you for the recepie :)))

    Really I will have to try it :))) Thanks a lot.

  4. Laurel says:

    It’s not even six yet, and I’m craving soup! This looks delicious.

  5. wow this looks great!!! we’ll def be trying this!

  6. Si! Yo quiero esta receta. La sopa parece muy delicioso. ;)

    Yum! I’ve done the taco seasoning on chicken breast before and thrown them in the Foreman. I also added a dash of the dry Ranch seasoning to them and they were pretty good.

    Thanks for all the great photos of each step. This is one I want to try.

    Hope you might be able to swing by the Decorating Dilemmas Party…I’m posting it tonight, but it will be up tomorrow too. :)

  7. Peggy says:

    Mmmmm….I’ve already made my grocery list! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Yum. Sounds fabulous and not too difficult! Perfect for this house. Thanks for sharing Kate!

  9. Janell Beals says:

    Yummy! Yes, the metabolism has a way of turning on you at some point in life! Janell

  10. Frugal Jen says:

    That sounds so good! I’ve got to try it!

  11. Maddy says:

    I’m a big Mexican foodie too :) But that soup looks divine (especially right about now in this cold weather). Can’t wait to give this recipe a whirl!

  12. kristin says:

    My favorite soup to make, can’t wait to try the recipe, thanks for sharing!

  13. Amber says:

    WOW…this sounds amazing!!! I always love trying new dishes!! Thanks for posting!!!

  14. Allison112 says:

    I have made Chicken Tortilla soup before, but I am really intrigued to try this one and see the difference. I am especially interested in the difference of the chicken (I boiled mine). Yum – thanks for the inspiration!

  15. Pam says:

    Sounds great. I will print this one and give it a try.

  16. Carol from Indian Springs Village says:

    La sopa parece muy deliciosa y facil. Gracious por la receta!

    We have been craving and eating a lot of soups and stews with the recent cold snap. I’ll give this one a try as we both love Mexican food. I would eat it constantly if the waist could handle it!

  17. El says:

    What a wonderful, cozy and spicy soup. Perfect for cold weather. I wish I had some now!

  18. Meredith says:

    Sign ME up, Señora! I’ve never made Tortilla Soup, but this has inspired me. Putting on the list.

  19. This sounds delicious and looks even better (great photos!). And, I love the calorie count, even with the avocado. I’m thinking that this will be a must-make very soon in this bone chilling Maine weather. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Molly says:

    That looks so good – I love the idea of coating the chicken in the taco seasoning first!

  21. Cindy says:

    That is so weird. I am planning to have Chicken Tortilla soup tonight too. Like Molly, I love the idea of coating the chicken breat in the taco seasoning and grilling it instead of what my recipe calls for which is to cook the chicken any old way and put the taco seasoning in the soup itself. I am definitely going to make that change. In fact, I’m going to try your recipe to see if I need to replace mine with it. Yours looks so fresh! Have to have the avocado–loads of “good” fat calories in those puppies. Thanks for channeling Mexican today!

  22. tracy says:

    my mouth is watering….MMMMMM!

  23. Sue says:

    Oh, it looks so good. I swear I want soup every day when it is cold outside. Yum!

  24. Amy B says:

    Great soup! The hubs LOVES tortilla soup, and therefore I have a ton of different varieties, based on what is in the house at the time.

    Actually, I think I may just have the fixin’s to make this tonight!

    Thanks for the inspiration, as always!

    ;) amy

  25. Just when I was wondering what to make for dinner. I have all these ingredients so I will do it up.

    I love Mexican as well. My friends live near a restaurant that has 99 cent margarita specials… yes imagine that!

  26. Melissa says:

    Looks yummy!! I’ve always wanted to try this ever since I saw the move Tortilla Soup.

  27. Shana says:

    Yummm! I love tortilla soup but have never found a recipe that tastes quite right to me!! Can’t wait to give yours a try! :)

  28. Tortilla soup is one of my favorite dishes in the world!!!! And so easy to make… Wonderful work, Kate!

  29. Joni says:

    This is my all time favorite soup right behind French Onion. I could live off the two forever.

  30. Selena says:

    You know as much as a Mexican food addict that I have been my entire life, I’ve yet to taste a drop of tortilla soup. I’m adding this to my menu planner for next week. Thanks for the recipe.

  31. Just Playin' says:

    Looks so very good! I’m not much of a cook but I must try it!

  32. Linda says:

    This sound delicious. I’m in the mood for some soup so I”ll have to try it. Thanks.

  33. Linda says:

    This sounds delicious. I’m in the mood for some soup. I’ll have to give it a try.

  34. I’ve been meaning to put this soup in our menus & I def. will now!! I know my hubby will love this. Great winter soup. Looking forward to seeing you at Blissdom, my friend!

  35. Abby says:

    I made your soup last night for three other couples and my family. It was fabulous. At first I didn’t think it was flavorful enough. But as I ate it I was WRONG! I loved it!! Thanks!

  36. michelle says:

    Thank you for posting this recipe. I have to eat gluten-free and so I don’t eat out often. Now that I have this recipe and can make it safely at home. :) I really admire all of your home decor. Thanks for sharing your creativity with me.


  37. jim says:

    Good information here. I enjoyed reading this and can’t wait for more. Keep up the good work.

  38. Betsy says:

    I made this recipe last week– big hit! Enough leftover to freeze– keep the recipe posts coming :)

  39. […] probably already have a version of this soup, but this one worked great for me.  Click over to Kate’s for the recipe.  I made it just like she listed (with a whole can of diced tomatoes), only I used that bag of […]

  40. Amanda says:

    Making this soup right now, and Oh BUDDY, does it smell good!!

  41. Selena says:

    Wowza….made this yesterday and it was DELISH!!! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  42. Carolyn says:

    YUM!! I just made this and it was SO yummy! Here’s my post about it!

  43. o-girl says:

    I have a question: did I miss it or at what point are the diced tomatoes added? I’m guessing when the tomato paste & carrots are added? I’m going to make this soup tonight – it looks so yummy!

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