Tortilla soup

Tex-Mex restaurant favourite easy to make at home!

After recently watching the movie Tortilla Soup, I wanted to try my hand at this classic dish, often called Mexican Chicken Soup. Its bright flavour and contrasting textures make it a bowl full of delicious surprises. This particular version was inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten, of Barefoot Contessa fame.  I often cook up the chicken breasts a day ahead to prepare the meat and make stock to speed up the soup’s assembly the next day. Note that you can use corn tortillas cut into strips if you want to make a gluten-free version. Many people serve tortilla soup with crushed tortilla chips on top, but I find with all the other toppings they aren’t necessary. Enjoy a bowl of Mexican sunshine in soup form!


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 — 12 cups (2.37 — 2.84 L) chicken stock
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes*
  • 2 — 3 jalapenos, seeded and minced
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) cumin
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 (6-inch) white corn (or wheat) tortillas

*You can buy diced tomatoes and puree them yourself if you can’t find crushed.

Garnish: Sliced avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar, lime wedges


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Place the chicken breasts skin side up in a baking pan.
  • Rub surface of chicken with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 40 – 50 minutes (time will vary depending upon size of chicken pieces), until internal temperature is 180F.
  • Allow chicken to cool at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes.
  • When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones (or save to make stock), then shred the meat with your hands.
  • Cover and set aside (or refrigerate until ready to make soup).
  • While chicken is roasting, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot; sauté onions, carrots and celery over medium heat for 5 minutes until all vegetables are softened.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add 10 cups of the chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapenos, cumin and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  • Increase heat to medium-high; when soup is boiling, cover pot and reduce heat to medium low. Let simmer 20 minutes.
  • Add the shredded chicken and cilantro, then season with salt to taste. Add more stock if the soup is thicker than you prefer. Bring back to a simmer.
  • Just before serving, cut the tortillas into ½ wide by 2” long strips and add to the soup. Serve the soup hot, topped with diced avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese. If you like your Mexican food spicy, you can also garnish with additional chopped jalapenos.

Serves 6 – 8.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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