Chicken Tortilla Soup

October 8, 2012

One day, if I’m lucky, I am going to have children – a fact that I find terrifying and exhilarating in almost equal proportions. Sometimes, when I’m not distracted by the terror or exhilaration, I like to think about the nice mundane, including imagining what dinner time will be like. I like to cook, especially when it’s not just me eating and Dan loves to cook. I’m pretty sure we’ll attempt to involve our kids with food and cooking and all the fun of it as much as humanly possible.

They’ll need to know how to make cookies obviously and learn that old bananas = banana bread. I hope they’ll grow to love some of my favourites (though they’ll probably hate them, right? Isn’t that how it works?) like spaghetti bolognese and bangers and mash.

One way or another I suspect they will eat this soup mainly because of the AWESOME TOPPINGS. Toppings are fun, even when you’re 28 years old and so I imagine toppings are incredibly full of win for a four or five year old. Get the basic soup made and then let people add toppings to their heart’s content.

The “bones” of this soup are amazing too of course – rich tomato and chicken stock and salty-smoky chicken – but the toppings take things up a significant notch. Don’t forgo the cilantro or sour cream and by all means add shredded cheese, diced red onion, and avocado if that’s your thing. It’s all good.

And while this makes a really fun dinner it also makes delicious leftovers reheated the next day after all the flavours have had a chance to hang out and get acquainted.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 oz. can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp canned green chilies
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 4 cups hot water
  • 3 Tablespoons cornmeal
  • 5 whole corn tortillas, sliced into 2 inch strips

To garnish

  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Diced red onion
  • Salsa
  • Grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Cilantro


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix cumin, chili pepper, and salt in a small bowl. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil on chicken breasts, then dust spice mix on both sides. Save the rest of the spice mix.
  2. Place chicken breasts on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until chicken is done. Remove from the oven and use two forks to shred chicken. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onions, red pepper, and minced garlic. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the rest of the spice mix. Stir to coat and then add the shredded chicken and stir.
  4. Pour in chopped tomatoes, green chilies, chicken stock, tomato paste, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes.
  5. Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water to form a paste. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes. Check seasonings, adding more salt or chili powder if needed. Turn off heat and allow the soup to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before you’re ready to eat, gently stir in tortilla strips.
  6. Ladle into bowls, then top with sour cream, diced red onion, diced avocado, salsa, and grated cheese, and cilantro, as desired.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

mommylisa October 15, 2012 at 11:29 am

This looks amazing. Most chicken tortilla soup in restaurants has no tomato – cannot wait to try this.


elizabeth October 15, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Oh, I have a totally bastardized version of tortilla soup made with tomato soup and a lot of vegetables–I made it often on weekends after our weekly trip to the grocery store. And the toppings made it.

Granted, yours looks much more elegant. :)


Stephanie October 16, 2012 at 10:45 pm

The north wind is bringing winter to the Prairies now . . . and this looks like just the thing to warm me up!


Angela October 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

Love the recipes on here, though I live in the Uk (sheffield!). Would it ever be possible for you to post into grams/ml etc?


Angharad October 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Hi Angela! Thanks for your note – so glad I have a Sheffield reader (I went to university there!). I do post some recipes with grams/ml conversions. I need to get better at doing it more consistently. The reason I often don’t is because since the calculations/conversions aren’t always exact, it means me doing twice the work (i.e. scooping out an American cup and then weighing it as well) which frankly I’m just too lazy to do a lot of the time. Some that are listed with mls/grams include: Almond and Cranberry Granola, Christmas Chocolate Biscuits, White Chocolate and Cranberry Biscuits. My conversions page should help a bit too!


Angela November 6, 2012 at 4:55 am

Aaah not to worry- I will just have to haul my butt to Waitrose and buy the American cup conversions.

Yes I also went to Sheffield Uni (in 2000) and ended up coming back here to live! The city just has a certain charm about it and it has hugely improved in the last 10 years. Jealous you live in the States though!

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