Tortilla soup

Nearly 20 years ago Mom and Dad were watching a morning news show and a guest chef made Tortilla Soup.  It was a labor of love with roasting red peppers so Dad set out to making a flavor-packed soup that was much simpler.  When I was 10 we had this a ton and some batches with multiple jalapenos were inedibly (not a word) spicy.  He didn’t give up and the result is our family’s definitive tortilla soup.

Gather your ingredients…


Chop your onion and four peppers. Roughly chopping is fine. You’ll blend it smooth later.

Cook your chicken.  Just salt and pepper, or add a little Tony Chachere’s.  Yum.


Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add a little more oil then your onions and peppers.   Cook until they soften and char.  img_3474

Like this…img_3478

Add the canned tomatoes and RoTel.img_3479

Bring to a boil…


Meanwhile chop your cilantro.  Yes, the whole bunch.  No, you don’t have to worry about the stems, you’re going to blend it and those stems have great flavor too.img_3476

Add chicken stock.  Homemade if you got it.  I’m using bullion ’cause I didn’t.img_3481

Now you have a use for the tiny stale chips at the bottom of the bag…img_3482

You need about two large handfuls of tortilla chips.  It is called tortilla soup.img_3483

Heat it through so the chips soften completely.img_3484

Add the chopped cilantro right at the end.img_3485

If you don’t own a immersion blender you can blend it in batches with a blender and then put the blended soup in a crock pot to keep warm.  We did this for years then bought one of these.  Everyone I know who makes this soup with any regularity has bought an immersion.img_3486


My kids don’t eat any cooked vegetables, but they eat tortilla soup. My daughter had thirds.


The usual serving is putting rice in your bowl, top with soup and chips and some chicken.   It is spicy, so rice helps with the heat.  I sometimes eat it without the chicken for a meatless option.


The soup without toppings is only 88 calories a serving. And is loaded with vitamin C.

Mom and Dad still make it.  My brothers both make it (or their wives do), I make it, my husband’s sister makes it weekly and uses rotisserie chicken in hers.  Everyone makes it a little differently.  One of my brothers doesn’t add the onion and it still tastes good.  You can tailor it mild or spicier (just switch your ro-tel), I think it’s gluten free or could be and it can be made vegan so easily (vegetable stock… no chicken).

So many times we’ve served it, though, and people ask, “Where’s the cheese.”


You can’t put ketchup on a hot dog in Chicago.  They have signs.  If you make it yourself and put cheese on it, you can do so in the privacy of your own home, but if you tell us you top yours with cheese we won’t think less of you, but we will think less of your palate.

My aunt tops hers with sour cream.  I’ve tried it.  Not bad, but for me it’s a little like putting ranch on your pizza.  It tastes like ranch and not pizza.  (So sorry.  I’m showing my inner food snob.)

My added touch to this recipe is using a little less chicken stock than Dad’s, and if I have it, I squeeze half a lime into the soup when it’s done.

Here’s the tortilla soup printable recipe card

tortilla soup

I hope you make it someday and I hope you love it and I hope you don’t add cheese.


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