Chicken Tortilla Soup

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I’m a bit of an anomaly. I come from a family who isn’t nearly as obsessed with food as me, and growing up my friends didn’t really care much about food as well. Clearly I’m from another planet. The one thing we did care about growing up was chicken tortilla soup. There was one restaurant in Tucson (Café Terra Cotta) that has since shut their doors, that had the most epic tortilla soup in the city.

During the good old days of high school (when we literally didnt have a care in the world) we’d go out for lunch or a girls night out and without fail, each and every one of us would order tortilla soup. God forbid we should ever branch out and order something else. But then again, why would we want to when this place had the best chicken tortilla soup on the planet!!  It was equal parts smoky and spicy and I made sure to add extra cheese once it arrived to the table. #sorryimnotsorry

Chicken Tortilla Soup from (@whatsgabycookin)

I’ve been craving a trip to Tucson lately so I whipped up a version of this Tucson inspired Chicken Tortilla Soup and piled it high with all the toppings! It’s  loaded with shredded chicken, cheese, plenty of cilantro, crispy tortilla strips and of course, avocado. (guacamole would totally work too!)

Chicken Tortilla Soup from (@whatsgabycookin)

Chicken Tortilla Soup

5 from 45 votes
The most perfect chicken tortilla soup you'll ever make! Inspired by Cafe Terra Cotta (who used to make the most perfect tortilla soup in Tucson, AZ), you'll never make another recipe ever again!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Soup, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Mexican, Tex Mex, Southwestern
Servings 4 people


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion roughly chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper stem and seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 1 14- ounce can fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup black beans
  • ¾ cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken


  • shredded cheese – colby jack / monterey jack / pepper jack your choice
  • quartered limes
  • cubed avocado
  • cilantro
  • sliced green onions
  • 2 small corn tortillas cut into thin strips
  • sliced jalapenos


  • Heat a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and sauté for until the onion is translucent and the jalapeno softens. Season with the salt, pepper, dried oregano, cumin and chipotle pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spices toast.
  • Add the fire roasted tomatoes and the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, blend the soup ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Add black beans, corn and shredded chicken.
  • Divide the soup into 4 bowls and top with cheese, avocado, cilantro and crisp tortilla strips. Add extra lime juice if desired and/or jalapeno slices. Serve immediately.
  • To make the tortilla strips: In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the tortilla strips in a single layer, frying quickly for about 30-45 seconds, flipping them once to ensure both sides get crisp. Remove the tortillas once crisp with a pair of tongs and transfer them to a paper towel lined plate to dry.


  1. While subjective, I have always both purchased and made this great dish, but in both cases, the tortillas were already put in the bottom of the bowl, not added crisp as a topping. This is not a Mongolian Hot Pot, or a Vietnamese Pho, nor a fondue. Makes a world of difference in giving the soup some body. After all, your recipe really only has canned tomatoes and one jalapeno, for solids, and blended at that, and as such, respectfully could use a revision. Often, black beans are included, and even refried beans to give it body. I guess the point I respectfully wish to make, is that the “traditional” recipe is more like a stew than a consome in body, and, adding the chicken (always bland in taste), as a topping, is definitely incorrect. Stirred in, it takes on the flavor of the soup, like any mild-tasting protein incorporated into a soup. No offence, Luv your blog, but I am having trouble visualizing a native from whence the recipe originated, being happy with this all-too-common version..

    1. She never said this was supposed to be culturally authentic. This was a recreation of a soup she used to love from a restaurant. She also doesn’t add the chicken as a topping- it’s clearly stirred into the soup…..

    2. Very good observations. I agree with most of your comments. They said, this is suppose to be an easy, flavorable soup with few ingredients and mission was accomplished.

    3. Best chicken tort soup I’ve ever tasted!
      I’m from the South, Louisiana specifically so most recipes thoroughly disappoint when it comes to robust flavor. I’m a very picky eater and rarely actually enjoy the food I eat. However, this recipe has me craving this soup 5 out of 7 days of the week. Excellent job! Thank you for sharing!

    4. Frank Mosher. Wow! Rude. Unnecessary. Inaccurate. Arrogant. Self-aggrandizing. You hit all things that make the internet ugly. Get your own blog and blast away, but when commenting on someone else’s hard work, have some civility and sensitivity.

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this soup. It is a go to meal all winter long. My cilantro is growing like crazy right now, so I think I must make a big batch of this very soon!!

  3. Love this soup and always enjoy trying it different ways. Tucsonan Native and everywhere you go it is made different and I enjoy most of them and yes Café Terra Cotta soup was Delish.

  4. you are from my planet girlfriend. I have been obsessed with making tortillas soup lately, but honestly had no idea how to (lol!) But I am going to make some for sure now!

  5. I gave this soup a whirl last night. Despite it being the 1st day of spring, it was most certainly soup weather. This was so easy to make and was absolutely delicious. Just what the doctor ordered to warm me up and dream of warmer days ahead.

  6. Love this, love the snapisode! Have never tried the immersion blender before, but it sure looks like a great idea!

  7. Hi Gaby! I absolutely love this soup and probably make it once a week! Just this week i decided to double the recipe so we could have more leftovers (busy mom with another one on the way!) and the consistency of the soup was just not the same (didn’t get as thick as it does doing a single recipe). Any advice or suggestions for how to adjust the measurements to get the same, amazing soup but twice the amount? 🙂 Thanks!

    1. If you double the liquid, I’d cook it longer as it will take more time for the liquid to thicken up!

  8. Made this soup a couple weeks ago and loved it. I’m going to make it for my extended family this week but the jalapeño will make it too spicy for some of them (same for my 2 year old). Do you have a recommendation on how to add spice/heat to it at the end that isn’t too artificial? I could always split it at the beginning but that’s like making 2 soups haha. Looking for something simple! Thanks!

  9. Ahh my husband is from Tucson (Catalina Foothills) and we ALWAYS go to Cafe Poco Cosa without fail or I will throw a giant fit and it is seriously the best when you just get the plate of whatever they want to bring you. Its always amazing (except the last time we went and I had morning sickness and chicken was the enemy) If it closed I think I’d be devastated

  10. This LOOKS like the best chicken tortilla soup ever! So much flavor and so perfect for these cold winter nights!

  11. I made this tonight with frozen chicken in the instant pot! Took the chicken out, shredded it, blended the liquid and then combined back in the pot with beans and corn. Omg. It is absolute perfection. This will be a winter staple for our family for sure.

  12. I just made this tonight and it was ahhhhmazing. The jalepeño gives it an extra (very delicious) kick. Will definitely be making this again!

  13. So delicious and flavorful! Can’t beat a one pot recipe – and I got to try out my new dutch oven! I didn’t feel like blending so I just didn’t lol but it was still wonderful! Excited to eat leftovers tomorrow 🙂

  14. I have made this once a week for the past 3 months. I absolutely LOVE it!!! I do add a can of white shoepeg corn. I’m so glad I found this!

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