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Thick and Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup

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

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 leftover veggie.

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.

close-up of tortilla soup

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.

cutting corn tortillas to garnish the soup
tortillas strips for frying

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. The add flavor to many stocks, roast meats, 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 have to 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.

More Tex-Mex recipes for your enjoyment

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p.s. If you have any questions or suggestions, you can email me privately: Paula at

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thick and hearty tortilla soup

Thick and Hearty Tortilla Soup

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.
Paula Rhodes
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Soup
Servings 8 servings


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


  • Monterey Jack cheese - shredded
  • 1-2 avocados - cubed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 corn tortillas - sliced and fried crisp (actually, we need more than this because we like to eat them plain)


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped tortillas, garlic, and onion. Saute 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and chili powder. Saute an additional minute to bring out the flavor of the spices (and make the house smell good).
  • Add tomatoes, bay leaves, chicken stock, and pepper. Return to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt if necessary depending on the saltiness of stock.
  • While soup simmers is a good time to fry some tortillas for a garnish. Preheat 1/2-3/4 cups of vegetable oil in a small skillet. Cut tortillas in 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 from oil with a slotted spoon and repeat process with remaining strips.
  • Remove bay leaves and stir in chicken. Reheat.
  • Garnish soup with shredded cheese, avocado, and tortilla strips. Sour cream is optional.


Serving: 1gCalories: 237kcalCarbohydrates: 26gProtein: 8gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 584mgPotassium: 445mgFiber: 5gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 413IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 58mgIron: 2mg


Keyword chicken tortilla soup, corn tortillas, tortilla soup recipe
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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

Recipe Rating


Saturday 27th of December 2014

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


Thursday 13th of March 2014

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!


Sunday 28th of October 2012

just made it, absolutely wonderful thanks! :)


Sunday 28th of October 2012

Thanks for coming back to comment Samantha.


Tuesday 27th of September 2011

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!


Sunday 16th of January 2011

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