Chicken Tortilla Soup (Revisited)

I am ashamed to say that I recently made chicken tortilla soup by starting with a whole chicken for the very first time.  I have made chicken tortilla soup in the past, and I even posted it (a long time ago)… But, I have always used chicken breast and boxed stock.  Let me just say that those days are over!

I’m not usually someone who orders soup at restaurants, but chicken tortilla soup is one of my weaknesses, and I order it quite often.  The last time I ordered it at one of my favorite restaurants, I started pondering what made it so good.  I couldn’t really pick out any bold flavors or spices… It was just good. The more I thought about it, I realized that the reason I liked it was most likely from the chicken stock.  After all, that’s a key ingredient in chicken tortilla soup. I know the restaurant makes much of their food from scratch, so I decided that making my own chicken stock was my best chance at recreating the restaurant version of my favorite soup.

As it turned out, making chicken tortilla soup from scratch was as easy (if not easier) than the versions I have made in the past.  It turned out to be far more flavorful, and it was cheaper, too! What more could you want?

Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the stock:

  • 3 1/2 pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half
  • 2 onions, cut into large chunks
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Dried thyme
  • Kosher salt
  • Black peppercorns (about 1 teaspoon)
  • Water

For the soup:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ribs of celery, diced
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 jalapeños, seeded and minced
  • 3 cups seeded and diced tomatoes
    (I used tomatoes from my freezer from last season, but canned would be fine)
  • 1 teaspoon ground corriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Chicken stock (from above)
  • Shredded chicken (from above)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Tortilla chips

To prepare the stock, place the whole chicken in a large dutch oven or stock pot.  Add the vegetables and bay leaves.  Sprinkle with dried thyme, salt, and black peppercorns.  Add enough water to just cover the chicken and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook partially covered for 1 1/2 hours.

Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and transfer to a cutting board.  When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken meat by hand and set aside for the soup. Pour the chicken stock through a strainer to remove all of the vegetables and solids. Reserve the stock for the soup.

To prepare the soup, begin by heating the olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the celery, carrots, onions, garlic, and jalapeños.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and tender. Add the diced tomatoes, and season with the coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes.

Stir in the chicken and continue to simmer until the chicken is heated through.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve the soup topped with tortilla chips and other toppings, if desired. I love to serve it with diced avocado, cilantro, and shredded cheese.

17 Responses to Chicken Tortilla Soup (Revisited)

  1. I have never made soup from my own stock!

    I saw an episode of Barefoot Contessa a few months ago where she was making chicken stock, and said not to USE the chicken that you made the stock from because it is usually dry and flavorless. Did you find that this happened? I could definitely do it your way, but I never have made soup otherwise because after watching that episode I thought I needed 2 chickens and a whole lot of patience – which I don’t have.

  2. Jessica – Honestly, I hadn’t heard that. I thought the chicken in my soup was fine, but I guess I don’t really have anything to compare it to! I have seen other recipes, though, that make it the way I did, so I’m not really sure. I’d love to hear what others think!

  3. This is one of my favorite soups! It is a staple here in Texas … almost every place that serves soup has this on the menu all the time. Your version, with the whole chicken, is making me hungry!

  4. Who cares that the weather is starting to warm up, hand over a bowl of that soup! That looks delicious! I’ve never made my own stock either but you made it sound so easy… I think i’ll have to try it.

  5. at least you’re doing better than I am. I’m still using boxed stock. :) I have yet to try and use a whole chicken, which I should.

  6. Make your own chicken stock makes all the difference.Right? The best is make a huge pot with 2 chickens and freeze in ziploc bags. So you always have a yummy broth handy. Your soup looks delicious.

  7. Nice job. I’m a big advocate of making everything from scratch. It might take a little more planning but it doesn’t have to be all that time consuming and the results are definitely a world apart.

  8. I have never had chicken tortilla soup but it sounds absolutely fabulous!! I probably couldn’t get my husband to eat it because of the veggies but maybe I’ll make a batch and freeze the leftovers for me to eat another time :)

  9. I just used this recipe and omg it was great. the chicken was moist and flavorful, the broth spicy. Thank you.

  10. Did you have to strain the stock? Whenever I try to make chicken stock it has ugly floaty stuff in it and I was wondering if that happened to you and if you had to strain to make a prettier stock.

  11. Awesome recipe. I’ve been making my own stock now and cleaning out the old vege’s in the fridge. I tweeked a few ingredients, but by and large followed these simple steps. My friends and his kids absolutely love it. Had to tone down the Jalapeno content for the kids, but thanks for the easy to follow directions and pictures. You can’t screw this up. Oh, and I make my own tortilla strips in the oven too. Thanks!