easy weeknight chicken tortilla soup

I find restaurant versions of chicken tortilla soup incredibly inconsistent.  Some are horrible, gelatinous, one-dimensional disasters while others are heart-warmingly transcendent.  I think for me, a perfect chicken tortilla soup is one that has the familiar broth found in traditional chicken noodle soups, but with a smoky edge.  This soup, which was inspired by my clever sister, who is an incredibly talented cook, hits all the right notes.  A more traditional chicken broth with carrots and onions is given an additional layer of complexity, courtesy of a spice blend involving cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper, and a roasted jalapeno pepper.  This soup is perfect for cold nights when you crave something that warms you from the inside.

Recipe continued after the jump…

To serve the soup, I like creating a “soup bar” – I ladle the soup into bowls and then set out toppings of tortilla strips, diced avocado, fresh cilantro and shredded jack cheese so each person can personalize their soup experience.


Serves 4

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts {preferably organic}
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 red jalapeno pepper
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 can Mexican style tomatoes, diced
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shredded jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut tortillas in half, and then cut each half into 1/2 inch strips.  Put tortilla strips, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and kosher or sea salt to taste in plastic bag and shake until tortilla strips are coated evenly in oil.  Spread tortilla strips on baking sheet in one layer.  Put into oven and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Turn oven to broil.  In small bowl, mix together 1.5 tablespoons cumin, 3/4 teaspoons Mexican chili powder, 3/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper, and kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste.  Line baking sheet with foil.  Trim excess fat off chicken breasts, pat dry with paper towels and place on baking sheet.  Coat chicken breasts thoroughly with spice mixture on all sides.  Place jalapeno pepper {whole} on the same baking sheet and rub with a little vegetable oil.  Broil chicken and pepper for about 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and pepper is blackened.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil over medium heat in a large pot {I used my trusty Le Creuset}.  Add onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent and soft.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.   Add remaining cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper, stirring for about 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, with their juice, and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add 4 c. boiling water and bouillon cubes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.

Once chicken is cooked and cooled, shred chicken with fingers or 2 forks.  Add shredded chicken to pot.  Cut off top of jalapeno pepper, remove seeds {if desired}, and slice.  Add jalapeno slices to pot.  Serve soup with a sprinkling of tortilla strips, diced avocado, chopped cilantro and shredded pepper jack cheese.

Thank you for reading!

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3 Responses to easy weeknight chicken tortilla soup

  1. I love this kind of soup. So many layers of flavour.

  2. petit4chocolatier says:

    I love your chicken tortilla soup!! It is perfectly delicious!

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