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Salt & Wind Travel

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Without a doubt, one of the best-known classic Mexican dishes is chicken tortilla soup. Whether you’ve ordered it at your local TexMex joint or tasted it the last time you traveled to Mexico, you’ve likely had it before. But have you made it and do you know its history?

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

This is a recipe that has quite a few ingredients but, once you make it a few times, it becomes second nature. I love Chicken Tortilla Soup, so, as I’ve traveled around California and Mexico, I order it on the regular. After many taste tests and tips from everyone from chefs to abuelitas, I went into the chicken and made this recipe that’s full of flavor, easy to make, and surprisingly healthy!

{Sopa De Tortilla} Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Table of Contents

Recipe Ingredients

The ingredients you’ll need to make this chicken tortilla soup are: 

  • Tortillas
  • Canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil, 
  • White or yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Poblano chiles
  • Tomato paste
  • Diced canned tomatoes
  • Chicken broth
  • Cornmeal
  • Shredded cooked chicken or turkey
  • Limes
  • Avocado
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese (or Feta)
  • Radishes
  • Scallions or green onions

How To Make This Recipe

Here’s how to make this chicken tortilla soup recipe: 

  • Make Tortilla Strips: If desired, bake the tortilla strips (or use tortilla chips in a pinch)
  • Start The Soup Base: Cook the onion and garlic until soft then add the tomato paste, oregano, broth, tomatoes, water, and simmer. 
  • Thicken The Soup: If using the cornmeal, whisk it in and cook until the grains swell then season well with salt.
  • Blend The Soup: Use a blender or hand-held immersion blender to make a smooth soup (or skip this and serve it chunky). 
  • Serve: Place the chicken in a serving bowl then top with any garnishes you’d like and serve. 

What Is Authentic Tortilla Soup?

It’s no surprise because classic tortilla soup has origins that date back to Aztec times so, to say it’s been around a minute is an understatement.

Like the chicken soup of Mexico, Chicken Tortilla Soup is comforting, and healthy, and in that, there are as many versions as there are abuelitas.

What we know is that we love ours blended rather than soupy – even if it makes some of our food friends crinkle their noses in disapproval – and we like to mix it up, garnishing not only with the more traditional toppings of tortilla strips, avocado, and cheese but also with fresh radishes, scallions, and wedges of lime.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Frequently Asked Questions

First of all, you may be surprised to learn that tortilla soup is a rather old-school recipe and is considered one of the classic Mexican soups along with Sopa De Fideo, Sopa Poblana, Pozole, and Sopa De Elote – many of which come from the central part of Mexico.

Authentic chicken tortilla soup – also known as Sopa Azteca or Aztec soup – is a recipe that supposedly, as the name suggests, dates back to Aztec times. It's believed that the origin of Mexican chicken tortilla soup is from central Mexico, likely from areas where corn has been grown for millennia–we're talking Mexico City or the nearby region of Tlaxcala.

The most basic (and classic) version of the soup is believed to be a chili-and-tomato-laced chicken broth that's served with crispy fresh-fried tortilla strips (but sans any shredded chicken or garnishes).

 

Making authentic chicken tortilla soup is actually pretty simple. Some recipes have you make a soup base with dried chilis and chicken broth, while others add tomatoes to that. You then simmer it with some onions, garlic, and herbs and serve that with all the toppings!

To make creamy chicken tortilla soup, you take that broth and whir it in a blender or food processor until it's really smooth, then serve that with the chicken and all the other delicious toppings.   

I've seen all sorts of tricks for thickening soups throughout the years, and many of them are pretty bizarre, but I like to thicken tortilla soup with cornmeal.

Blame it on me, having studied at a French culinary school, but I believe that you should reduce or simmer a broth most of the time to thicken it instead of doing anything else.

One major exception is chili and chicken tortilla soup, where I add fine cornmeal to thicken it. I know it seems a little strange if you haven't done it before, but the result is that the soup flavor is more complex, and it has a natural, slightly thickened result.

The trick is to simmer the soup with the cornmeal a bit – ideally 10 to 20 minutes –until the cornmeal swells up and absorbs some of the broth flavors. 

Oh, and if you don't have cornmeal, you can add in 3 to 4 corn tortillas or a couple of handfuls of crushed-up tortilla chips and get similar results. 

What To Serve With This Recipe

Pretty much any reason at all – game night, Monday Night Football party, wintry weather, or you’re just fighting a cold and you can’t eat any more chicken noodle soup – is in our book, a good reason to make chicken tortilla soup. And, of course, each of those occasions might call for a different side to serve with the soup.

In general, we turn to healthy but filling salads to serve along with it like:

See The Recipe Made Step By Step

Heads up that Aida made this recipe on her IGTV, so head there to check it out!

Other Soup Recipes To Try 

Here are a few of our other favorite soups to try: 

Now, go stock up on all your cooking essentials, then head into the kitchen, make this, and share it with us by tagging @saltandwind and #swsociety on social!

{Sopa De Tortilla} Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

Classic tortilla soup is like the chicken soup of Mexico in that it's comforting, healthy, and in that there are as many versions as there are abuelitas. This {Sopa De Tortilla} Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe version is blended rather than soupy and topped with avocado, radishes, scallions, toasted chilies, and, of course, lots and lots of crisp tortilla strips.
4.8 from 5 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Dinner, Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10 Servings
Calories 208 kcal

Ingredients
  

For The Tortilla Strips:

  • 4 (6 inch) corn tortillas cut into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil

For The Tortilla Soup Base:

  • 2 tablespoons canola, grapeseed, or peanut oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano or 2 sprigs fresh oregano (or use fresh epazote if you can find it!)
  • kosher salt
  • 1 medium poblano pepper (sometimes labeled pasilla) ends trimmed, rib and seeds removed, and finely chopped (can use an Anaheim chile)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 10 cups low sodium chicken broth or water
  • 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal (gluten free, if desired)

For Garnish:

  • 6 cups shredded cooked turkey or chicken (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 limes cut into wedges, for serving
  • Ripe avocado for garnish (optional)
  • Crumbled feta or Cotija cheese for garnish (optional)
  • Thinly sliced radishes for garnish (optional)
  • Thinly sliced green onions (aka scallions) for garnish (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Make Oven-Fried Tortilla Strips: Heat oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Toss the tortilla strips with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. When the oven is heated, bake the tortillas strips until crisp and golden, 5 to 8 minutes, tossing halfway through. 
    TIP: Tortilla strips can be made completely up to two days ahead of time. Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
  • Make The Tortilla Soup Broth: Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high. When it shimmers, add the onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chile and cook until just softened about 2 minutes.
    Stir in the tomato paste and oregano (or epazote) and cook until just fragrant. Stir in the broth, the tomatoes and their liquid, and 8 cups of broth or water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until broth slightly thickens and flavors meld, at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour. 
  • Thicken The Soup: If using the cornmeal, whisk it in, then let the broth simmer at least 15 minutes more, or until the cornmeal swells slightly and is no longer grainy in texture. You can stop now and serve the soup brothy, but we prefer it smooth and blended.
    To do so, carefully transfer the soup to a food processor or blender  (you'll have to do it in batches in a regular blender) then blend it for a few minutes so it is really smooth and then proceed. Season well with salt and pepper, then taste. Add more salt or lime juice if you want it to be "brighter" in flavor. 
    TIP: Soup can be made completely up to three days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airitight container and rewarm before serving.
  • Serve The Tortilla Soup: To serve the soup, divide turkey or chicken, avocado, and cheese among six bowls; spoon in a few ladles of the broth, then top with radishes, scallions, lime wedges, and tortilla strips. 

PERSONAL NOTES

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowlCalories: 208kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 25gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 215mgPotassium: 641mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 163IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
Keyword Classic Mexican recipe, Comfort soup, feel good soup, mexican soup, tomato soup
Tried this recipe?Mention @saltandwind or tag #swsociety!

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About The Author

2 thoughts on “Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup”

  1. Can masa be used instead of cornmeal? If so, is there a different amount used or is it 1:1? recipe looks delicious, and I will be trying it blended. I have made tortilla soup many times, but never thickened, usually it is more ‘soupy’.

    1. Aida Mollenkamp

      Yes, you can use masa harina (the flour not the prepared masa dough used for tamales) at a 1:1 ratio to the cornmeal. We use Masienda’a masa harina all the time in this recipe and it works great. Enjoy!

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