Soup Sundays: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup

I'm doing pretty well with my soup-making goal so far. I haven't made a soup every weekend, but I am slowly and steadily crossing soups off my list. This chicken tortilla soup is based on the Silky Tortilla Soup in the May 2013 issue of Food & Wine. Unlike most chicken tortilla soups, which have vibrant tomato broths, this one looked a little subdued, and after reading through the recipe, I realized it's because the soup is pureed with butter. It sounded decadent for a soup, and I had to make it.

Chicken tortilla soup

The original recipe calls for store-bought stock and rotisserie chicken, but I figured I'd make my own instead. Then in place of fresh plum tomatoes and canned chipotle chiles, I used a couple of cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, one with green chilies in the mix. I thought that these would add another dimension of flavor to the soup, and they definitely did. (I purposely didn't drain them so their juices would add even more flavor to the broth.) While you can go with the more authentic queso fresco, I opted to use feta because I knew it would pair with the soup and that I'd also easily find a use for any leftovers.

I was so pleased with how the soup turned out. The butter definitely imparted a silkiness and made a nice match for the fire-roasted flavors of the tomatoes. I love simple soups, but I also love soups that are chock-full of stuff, and all the garnishes in this soup added welcome flavors and textures, as well as a heartiness. The crunchy tortilla strips are a must.

Chicken Tortilla Soup 
(adapted from Food & Wine, May 2013)

Chicken tortilla soup

This lightly spicy soup with a silky fire-roasted tomato broth features shredded chicken 
and garnishes of cilantro, avocado, feta, and crunchy tortilla strips.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


Kosher salt and pepper
1 (3.5-pound) whole chicken
Canola oil
2 onions (1 diced; 1 thinly sliced)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
5 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 (14.5-ounce can) Muir Glen Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Medium Green Chilies
1 (14.5-ounce can) Muir Glen Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes
6 Tortilla Land corn tortillas, halved and cut in thin strips
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Diced avocado
Crumbled feta
Cilantro leaves


One hour before roasting, salt chicken generously and let sit out at room temperature. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place chicken breast side up in ovensafe skillet, and roast for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees, and continue to roast chicken until white meat registers 160 degrees, about 20 minutes.

When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred and reserve white meat.

Place chicken carcass with dark meat attached, skin, and any accumulated juices and drippings in large stockpot. Cover with water (about 4 quarts).

Bring water to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer. Skim surface often. Simmer, partially covered for 2 hours.

Add diced onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to simmer for another hour.

Pour stock through fine-mesh strainer into large bowl. Reserve and shred any meat from chicken. Reserve 8 cups of stock for soup. Cool the rest of the stock in an ice bath and refrigerate or freeze for another use.

In Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add thinly sliced onion, garlic and generous pinch salt and cook, stirring, until softened and starting to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and reserved 8 cups stock and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Onions for chicken tortilla soupBroth for chicken tortilla soup

Meanwhile, line a plate with paper towels. In small skillet, heat 1/4 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat. Add some of tortilla strips in single layer and fry, stirring frequently, until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Using tongs or slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels. Season with salt. Repeat with remaining strips.

Frying tortilla strips

Off heat, puree soup with immersion blender until nearly smooth. Add butter and continue to puree until smooth.

Place chicken in individual bowls and ladle soup over. Garnish individual servings with tortilla strips, avocado, feta, and cilantro. Serve hot (and before the tortilla strips get soggy).

Chicken tortilla soup

Note: You can definitely use store-bought stock and shredded meat from a rotisserie chicken to save time.

Have you ever made tortilla soup?