Thick and Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe To Boost Your Day

Sneak Preview: This Thick ChickenTortilla Soup recipe is a tomato and chicken stock-based tortilla soup with finely chopped corn tortillas added to the broth for a thicker, more flavorful soup.

thick chicken tortilla soup surrounded by condimentsPin

As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tortilla soup comes in so many forms. Unless you’re a repeat customer, you never know what kind you’ll get when ordering at a restaurant. It could be tomato-based, broth-based, thick, thin, with or without avocados, with or without vegetables such as zucchini or corn, etc. So what do you prefer?

I personally have cycled through various stages with tortilla soup. This is my newest favorite–a tomato-based version of a thick and hearty tortilla soup.

Only the most traditional vegetables are called for. But that doesn’t stop me from adding the occasional vegetable, such as zucchini, yellow squash, or corn.

Happy Cooks Speak Up

“Yup. made it again for dinner tonight (I’ve made it at least 5 times since finding this recipe). I LOVE it!
Thanks again… 🙂” —KENDRA

What Makes This Soup Thick and Hearty?

By virtue of its name, all tortilla soups contain corn tortillas.  However, in this one, part of the tortillas are chopped and sautéed with the onions. They don’t get crispy.

Instead, they are cooked in the broth and become a thickening agent in the soup, making it hearty and filling with the best flavor imaginable. Of course, you still need the requisite crispy fried tortilla strips to flavor and garnish.

tortilla strips for fryingPin
Slicing corn tortillas before frying them. Use white or yellow corn tortillas, but not flour tortillas.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • OIL: Use a mild vegetable oil like avocado, canola, or corn oil.
  • TORTILLAS: In this recipe, the tortillas cook until they disintegrate. This causes the broth to thicken while adding flavor.
  • GARLIC: Fresh garlic is the best, then jarred minced garlic in a glass jar. I would only use powdered garlic in an emergency.
  • ONION: Chopped fresh or frozen yellow or white onions go best in this recipe.
  • CUMIN: Powdered cumin gives the broth a distinctly Tex-Mex flavor. It’s important to the wonderful flavor of the broth.
  • CHILI POWDER: This is another seasoning that adds flavor. So be sure it’s fresh.
  • TOMATOES: While some would say you should always buy whole tomatoes and crush them yourself, diced tomatoes are too convenient to pass over.
  • BAY LEAVES: I hope you have these in your spice cupboard. They add flavor to many stocks, roast meat, and marinara. Don’t forget to remove them before serving.
  • CHICKEN STOCK: If at all possible, make this using the chicken bones left from the chicken you will use in the soup.
  • SALT: If you must use canned chicken stock, go easy on the salt.
  • CAYENNE: You won’t need much cayenne or red pepper, but it will wake up this soup. So, don’t leave it out.
  • CHICKEN: Shredded chicken from any baked chicken recipe or a rotisserie chicken is good. Pull the skin off.

How To Make Thick Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chopped corn tortillas, chopped onions and chopped garlic in a large Dutch oven.Pin
Add oil, chopped corn tortillas (today I’m using white corn tortillas), chopped onions, and chopped garlic to a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
Cumin and chili powder added to the pot with a spoon.Pin
Add cumin and chili powder to the pot.
Blooming the spices.Pin
Stir and cook to bloom the spices.
Adding the tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken broth, salt, and pepper.Pin
Add tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken broth (you see frozen chunks of chicken stock in the picture), salt, and cayenne pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes.
frying the tortillas stripsPin
While the soup simmers, cook the tortilla strips in about an inch of vegetable oil in a small skillet on the stove. The fat should come to about 375˚F. Stick around. It doesn’t take long for the strips to brown.
adding chicken to the soup.Pin
Add the cooked chicken (diced or shredded) just before serving and reheat briefly.
tortilla soup with spoon and surrounded with condiments.Pin
Serve soup in individual bowls with condiments: Monterey Jack cheese, diced avocado, chopped cilantro, and fried tortilla chips or strips. Sour cream is optional.

FAQs About Thick Chicken Tortilla Soup

What makes this tortilla soup thick?

Finely chopped corn tortillas, white or yellow, are added to the broth and cooked until they mostly disintegrate.

Can I make this soup ahead of time?

Make the recipe to step 3 and remove the soup from the heat before you add the chicken. Store in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Prepare the condiments immediately before serving.

Does it matter what kind of chicken I use?

I prefer rotisserie chicken. Whatever you use should be cooked before adding it to the soup. Use boneless skinless chicken breasts if you prefer all-white meat, or thighs, legs, and wings for dark meat. Or combine them. Suit yourself.

Do I really need a whole chicken?

The amount of chicken doesn’t really matter. If you have leftover cooked chicken, use what you have. If you are vegetarian, leave it out.

Parting Thoughts: I know that preferences regarding tortilla soup range all over the board. However, I encourage you to try this soup. It’s hardy and filling without being heavy. I hope you’ll try it.

If you’re a Tex-Mex lover and need to scratch the itch, I recommend my Texas Tamale Pie or this Baked Chile Relleno Casserole with Ground Beef.

If you’re a soup lover, I have many fabulous soup recipes on this website. A couple of my favorites are Ham Stew with Beef and Bacon: Popular with Meat Lovers, and Easy Mini Meatball Soup with Zucchini and Eggplant.

Help at Your Fingertips: For questions or suggestions, email Paula at If you need help, I’m happy to troubleshoot via email (faster than leaving a comment). Attach pictures and as many details as possible for the best advice.

bowl of thick chicken tortilla soupPin
Yield: 6 servings

Thick Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

This Thick and Hearty Tortilla Soup is a tomato and stock-based tortilla soup with finely chopped tortillas added while cooking for a thicker, more flavorful soup.

Rate this recipe

(5 stars if you loved it)

5 from 2 votes
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons (40 g) vegetable oil
  • 6 corn tortillas chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 (110 g) medium onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 28-oz can (794 g) diced tomatoes
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 cups (1440 g) chicken stock I boil the bones of the rotisserie-baked chicken to make stock.
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 whole rotisserie-baked chicken, meat removed, no skin shredded or cubed


  • 2 cups (226 g) Monterey Jack cheese shredded
  • 2-3 avocados cubed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 corn tortillas sliced and fried crisp (actually, we need more than this because we like to eat them plain)


  • Heat 3 tablespoons (40 g) vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 6 corn tortillas, finely chopped, 3 cloves garlic, and 1 (110 g) medium onion. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons ground cumin and 1 tablespoon chili powder. Saute for an additional minute to bring out the flavor of the spices (and make the house smell good).
  • Add 1 28-oz can (794 g) diced tomatoes, 3 bay leaves, 6 cups (1440 g) chicken stock, and 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼-½ teaspoon cayenne pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt if necessary depending on the saltiness of the stock. Meanwhile, make the fried tortilla strips.

Making Fried Tortilla Strips

  • While the soup simmers, fry tortillas strips for a garnish. Preheat 1/2-3/4 cups of vegetable oil in a small skillet to 375˚F. Cut 6 corn tortillas into strips. When the oil is hot enough to bubble when tortillas hit the oil, put in enough strips to cover the bottom. Strips are done when they start to turn a golden brown color. Remove strips from the oil with a slotted spoon and repeat the process with the remaining strips.
  • Remove bay leaves and stir in 1 whole rotisserie-baked chicken, meat removed, no skin. Reheat briefly.
  • Garnish soup with shredded 2 cups (226 g) Monterey Jack cheese, 2-3 avocados, chopped, 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro and fried tortilla strips. Sour cream is optional.



Serving: 1 | Calories: 529kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 0.05g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 1011mg | Potassium: 801mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 855IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 369mg | Iron: 3mg

All images and text ©️ Paula Rhodes for Salad in a

5-Star Ratings Are My Favorite!Help others find this recipe in search results on the web.
logo for saladinajar
Join our community of adventurous cooks, and start creating homemade food worth sharing.

If you want inspiration and exclusive tips, add your email and press the button. (Don't worry. I won't sell your email.)

Thick Chicken Tortilla soup in a bowl with a spoonPin
Old picture that might still be out there somewhere.

Adapted from Stop and Smell the Rosemary, published by the Junior League of Houston.

My Amazon Store

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Made it for dinner tonight. It was awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Zana@GreenGlobalTravel says:

    Looks great! I’ve had a restaurant version of this and I loved it. I’m so excited to try and make this myself so I can have it anytime! Thanks for sharing!

  3. just made it, absolutely wonderful thanks! 🙂

    1. Thanks for coming back to comment Samantha.

  4. Wow – delish recipe! I love tortilla soups – and yours is fantastic 🙂 I actually made mine with Gardein veggie chicken (cuz I’m vegetarian) and it turned out excellent! Can’t wait to try more of your recipes 🙂 Thanks!

  5. Yup. made it again for dinner tonight (I’ve made it at least 5 times since finding this recipe). I LOVE it!
    Thanks again… 🙂

  6. Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons says:

    Yummm how have I not noticed this one before?
    Can’t wait to make this! aside from matzo ball soup, tortilla soup is my second fav!

  7. I made this for dinner last night. It. Was. Amazing.
    I’ve made so many different kinds of Tortilla Soup trying to find just the right one. My search is over. This is the one. I love it.
    My kiddos devoured it. My husband had fourths.

  8. This looks awesome! I have printed this off and plan to make it very soon. I love the idea of using rotisserie baked chicken. Makes life a little easier. I know my family will be impressed. I have tried several tortilla soup recipes over the years but this one looks like the winner.

  9. I’ve got it – Tortilla Stew! That’s what we’ll call this – looks quite hearty, festive AND spicy. Bridges the gap between summer and winter soup/stew season. You can really capture non-baked food so well…. it’s such a challenge to me (so I usually don’t try)!

  10. You’re right – tortilla soup at restaurants is all over the place. Yours sounds like a really delicious version!

  11. This looks amazing, I HAVE to make this!

  12. Mmmmm, this looks so good! It’s been a bit cool here and I’m craving soup.

  13. Window On The Prairie says:

    Sounds and looks wonderful. Great pics too!

  14. This looks great! I’ve been looking for a good tortilla soup recipe.

  15. This looks so delicious! There are so many recipes for tortilla soup, but I’ve been disappointed when they turn out rather ‘thin.’ This does indeed look hearty.

    I’m glad you enjoyed your Mother’s Day!