Chicken Tortilla Soup

I feel like I should reiterate something as I post this recipe.

I don’t consider myself a “good cook”.

My definition of a good cook goes a little something like this:

Good Cook: n. 1. someone who can walk into a kitchen anywhere, pull existing ingredients out of the pantry and/or fridge and make a plate-licking good supper without a recipe card in sight. 2. someone who was born knowing what creme fraiche was, how to make a bechamel, and who both knows how to prepare poached eggs, hollandaise sauce, macarons, foie gras, and smallish game hens and enjoys eating them. 3. someone who doesn’t gag at the sight/smell of mayonnaise. 4. someone who has an innate sense of how ingredients work together – scientifically, texturally, and taste-ifically. 5. someone who never, and I mean NEVER, uses canned soup as an ingredient in anything.

This definition officially disqualifies me from “good cookerdom” on several counts.

Delightful food results do not just magically occur for me. I wish they did. Eventually, I hope I gain enough experience that I can include myself in the aforementioned catagory of talented individuals.

Right now, my greatest culinary talent is “delicious recipe hunter”. I wear this title happily. I enjoy recipe hunting. It’s satisfies me.

On occasion though, someone in our family is craving something for which I have not yet acquired a recipe. This is one of the many cases where we enter somewhat of a danger zone.

I search for what appears to me to be the perfect recipe.

Then, I *gasp* begin tweaking.

Tweaking is always risky business – for me anyway.

My understanding of how everything works together is still under construction, so I proceed with trepidation.

I really hate destroying food.

I also really hate throwing away destroyed food and serving peanut butter sandwiches or chicken nuggets for dinner.

Not that we’ve ever done that. . . .

*Ahem*. . . Anyway. . . .

That’s why this tortilla soup is so near and dear to my not-a-good-cook-yet heart. It’s an invention.

My invention.

And it’s actually very tasty.

I first made this when my husband said he was craving chicken tortilla soup and pointed out that we hadn’t had it in a long time.

Long time like 7 years. I didn’t even know where the old recipe was. So I started over.

Miracle of miracles – it was a standout success with everyone.

Every. One.

The next night, I brought a big tupperware of it to a girlfriend of mine who had just had a baby.

They loved it.

Wow. Success!

Then I made it again a few weeks later, and . . . .

Wa wa wahhhhh.  Flop.

I had lost it. Whatever I had done the first time I didn’t replicate again the second time.

So I tried it again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until I finally had it back.

I am giving you this whole big long story because I am a little self-conscious of the actual recipe. I know there are probably much more efficient ways to create what I have created – I just don’t know them.

I know it’s probably silly to use cream cheese, sour cream, and half and half to establish the creamy-cheesy finish on the soup, but that’s what worked – after umpteen tries – and I’m sticking with it.

And I feel like this is yummy enough that you might want it in your stash of delicious recipes.

Feel free to tweak.

I hope you are more haphazard and free with your experimentation than I am.

But I really, really hope you make it, freakish techniques and all, and genuinely like it.

¡Buen provecho! (Google Translator tells me this means, “Enjoy your meal!”)

Oh! and don’t forget to comment here, and enter the Joy the Baker Cookbook Giveaway!

This soup is HOT! If you want less spice – leave the jalepeno seeds out (or even eliminate the jalepeno if you’re looking for a truly mild version) and reduce or eliminate the chili powder to start with. You can always add some in at the end.


Chicken Tortilla Soup


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalepeno pepper, chopped (Remove seeds if you want less heat, and make sure you wash your hands after handling the pepper – the oils can burn skin and eyes.)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 8 ounce can low-sodium tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried oregano (just rub dry oregano between your palms as you sprinkle it into the pot)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup softened cream cheese
1/4 cup half and half
2 cooked chicken breast halves, shredded or diced (rotisserie chicken works great for this)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
tortilla chips and shredded cheese for serving


Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Saute onions, and jalepeno over medium heat until onion is transparent. Add garlic, cook for one more minute. Remove from heat.
Combine cooked veggies and canned diced tomatoes in a blender or food processor and puree. Add back to pot and return to medium heat.
Add chicken broth, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, oregano and black pepper. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl, whisk together corn starch and cold water. Slowly add to soup, whisking the soup constantly as you add.
Continue whisking for 1 minute, until the soup thickens.
Add sour cream, cream cheese, and half and half. Whisk until smooth.
Add chicken and cook till heated through.
Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in individual bowls with fresh cilantro, shredded cheese and corn chips.

Source: Sara

11 thoughts on “Chicken Tortilla Soup

  1. Ok, so I just have to say… I’ve read this recipe twice, and there are no “freaky techniques.” In fact, I would say that just looking at your recipe, I can see how the addition of the sour cream and the cream cheese would give it a smooth and tangy (and rich) flavor that you wouldn’t get just by the addition of cream or half-and-half alone, which is what most recipes would say to do. So please remove the entry for “freaky” from your mental vocabulary dictionary and use “inspired” instead!

  2. I love how you talk about tweaking recipes. That describes me as well. I rarely ever follow a recipe to a tee. There is always something to change or add. This soup looks great though, I think I will try it (with tweaks, I am sure)

  3. I’m not a “good” cook either, but really what is it good cook? It’s a person who throws things into the pan and eats it anyways. I think we’re all pretty awesome at it. This chicken tortilla soup definitely looks like a winner.

    • I actually thought of you when I was making/posting this too – no, I don’t think it would be too big of a tweak. I think you could used veggie broth and black beans instead of chicken broth and chicken. I think it would be delicious that way!

      • I’ll try it then! One thing you have to remember, you can’t leave out the meat in that soup I gave you the other day. Just doesn’t get the right d.p. grey color without it!

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