Chicken Tortilla Soup


Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Chicken tortilla soup came to mind when planning my weekly dinner menu. My wife always arrives home late after busy, harrowing days at her office and appreciates a good hot meal. This is one of her favorite soups and frequently orders it when we visit our favorite local Mexican restaurant.

This recipe is from Rick Bayless and his acclaimed Chicago Mexican restaurant group. I tried to recreate it as faithfully as possible given the availability of ingredients and my own cooking limitations. Rick bills this as authentic Mexican cuisine and I can confirm it matches my experience traveling south of the border.

It takes time and effort to make this soup, but it is well spent because she judged it “the best ever”. Thanks Rick! I hope to dine with you again.

  • Author: TJ
  • Yield: 6 1x


  • 2 dried pasilla or ancho chilies – stemmed and seeded
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes – preferably fire-roasted
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 1 medium size yellow onion – sliced 1/4″ thick
  • 3 large garlic cloves – peeled and smashed
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into 3/4” cubes
  • Salt – to taste
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 6 oz Mexican queso fresco – crumbled
  • Mexican crema (sour cream) – garnish
  • 1 large lime – cut into 6 wedges
  • Cilantro – chopped for garnish
  • 46 fresh corn tortillas – cut into strips and pan fried
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned black beans – rinsed and drained


  1. Cut the chicken into 3/4″ cubes and reserve
  2. Slice the tortillas, cut your limes, chop the cilantro, crumble the mexican cheese and reserve
  3. Cut off the stems, seed the chilies and toast over an open flame with tongs or toast in a dry pan on medium heat, pressing with a spatula until they become fragrant
  4. Roughly chop the chilies and add to a blender with the crushed tomatoes
  5. Heat the olive oil in a large 4 quart sauce pan and cook the onion and garlic over medium heat, stirring often until translucent and golden 7-10 minutes
  6. Transfer the onion and garlic to the blender and blend it all until smooth
  7. Raise the heat to medium high and pour the tomato/onion/garlic/chili puree into the pan and stir constantly while it thickens to almost the consistency of tomato paste, 7-10 minutes
  8. Add the chicken broth and the cilantro and stir to combine
  9. Add the black beans (optional) and stir
  10. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes
  11. Season with salt to taste – start with about a teaspoon
  12. Add the chicken to the soup and simmer to cook – about 10 minutes
  13. While the chicken is cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a shallow pan on high heat and fry the tortilla strips in batches until crisp – about 1 minute per batch
  14. Remove with a slotted spatula, drain on a paper towel covered rack and lightly salt them immediately, so the salt will stick
  15. Slice your avocado
  16. When the chicken is cooked divide the queso fresco into each bowl and ladle in the soup
  17. Garnish with the tortilla strips, a dollop of  Mexican crema, avocado, cilantro and a wedge of lime

toasting chilies puree

making the soup chicken tortilla soup chicken tortilla soup