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A bowl of chicken tortilla soup in a white bowl surround by a glass of beer and slice avocado.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Course: Appetizer or Soup
Cuisine: Mexican / TexMex
Keyword: how to make chicken tortilla soup, tortilla soup recipe, what is tortilla soup?
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Calories: 198kcal
Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of the most comforting soups ever. It's not difficult to prepare, and many of the components can be made in advance. This is a soup where the base is the most important element, namely the broth. Go with homemade, if possible (link in recipe).
Print Recipe


  • Blender or food processor


  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil for frying about ½-inch in a heavy skillet, or use your deep fryer
  • 2 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
  • 1 medium onion skin removed and quartered
  • 2 ancho chiles stems and seeds removed
  • 4 roma tomatoes cut in half, lengthwise
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp cilantro chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • Kosher salt
  • black pepper freshly ground
  • 6 oz Mexican cheese crumbled, such as queso fresco, or Monterrey Jack
  • 1 large avocado ripe, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 1 large lime cut into wedges


Fry the Tortillas (Can be done in advance)

  • Use a knife, or pizza cutter, to cut the tortillas into ¼-inch strips.
  • In a large, heavy skillet (or deep fryer), heat the oil to medium-high heat (350°F). Add the tortillas strips and cook until golden and crisp, about 1 to 2 minutes. Use a metal slotted spoon to remove the strips and let drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Lightly salt. Set aside.

Prepare the Ancho Chilies (Can be done in advance)

  • Heat a large saucepan/skillet over medium-high heat. Make sure the chilis are opened up, with no seeds, and place them on the skillet for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Flip and sear for another 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and then when cool enough to handle, chop the chili into small pieces. Set aside.


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Place the tomatoes, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Drizzle a little olive oil over the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and roast for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large skillet/saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft and they are turning brown. It's okay if they char a little.
  • Carefully transfer the tomatoes, onions, and garlic to a blender or food processor. Pureé until smooth. Add the mixture back to the saucepan and cook on medium-high until thickened to almost a paste, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, cilantro, ¾ tsp salt, and ½ tsp pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Add the chicken breast and simmer the soup for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred with a couple of forks. Add the chicken back to the soup and simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Taste and add more salt, if desired. Transfer soup to bowls and garnish with tortilla strips, ancho bits, cheese, avocado slices, and chopped cilantro. Serve at once!



Fry the corn tortillas strips in a deep-fryer, or sturdy skillet filled with about a ½-inch layer of vegetable oil.  Alternatively, you can brush the tortilla strips with olive oil and then bake them in a 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing them once midway.  Lightly salt.
Any type of dried Mexican chili will work in place of the ancho.  Just check the heat-level first.  Some chili's carry quite a bit of heat.  Ancho chilis are mild. 
If you want a spicier soup, then split a fresh jalapeno pepper down the middle and remove some of the seeds.  Roast them with the tomatoes and then add them to the blender when pureíng. 
We strongly recommend making the chicken broth from scratch.  You can use the chicken for the soup!
The soup will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week and freezes beautifully for up to 2 months. 


Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 811mg | Potassium: 577mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 2753IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 180mg | Iron: 1mg