Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup

This classic Mexican Tortilla Soup is adapted lightly from Rick Bayless. It is crazy delicious and I make it probably at least once a month (or more!)!

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup. An EASY authentic soup recipe! This soup is loved by everyone.

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sad that soup week is over.  Our fridge, on the other hand, is probably thrilled–as we’re just beginning to clear out all of the leftover containers.  It was sort of a mess for a while.

On a more positive note, I haven’t had to make lunch for days and days!  Maybe a February soup week is in order?  Thoughts?

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup. An EASY authentic soup recipe! This soup is loved by everyone.

Today’s soup might just be one of my absolute favorites EVER!  I’ve been making it for years–and have probably made it at least three times in the last month and a half.

I’m all about the toppings when it comes to pretty much anything.  And as you probably know already, Mexican tortilla soup is all, and I mean all about the toppings.

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup. An EASY authentic soup recipe! This soup is loved by everyone.

Obviously, the chiles are equally as important.  As are the fire roasted tomatoes.  You can’t have a good Mexican tortilla soup without any one of these ingredients!

There are a million recipes for Mexican tortilla soup in the world, but today’s recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup. An EASY authentic soup recipe! This soup is loved by everyone.

The original recipe calls for pasilla negro chiles–but I’ve always had difficulty finding those, so I’ve adapted the recipe to use the more readily available pasilla ancho chiles.

To prepare the base of the soup, you simply toast the chiles over an open flame, de-seed and de-stem them, and puree them in the blender with fire-roasted tomatoes and sauteed onion and garlic (see picture above).  

This chile tomato mixture is then reduced over high heat, until it is very thick.  At this point, you simply add in chicken stock and allow the flavored broth to simmer for an additional 10-15 minutes, before adding the chicken.  It’s that easy!

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup. An EASY authentic soup recipe! This soup is loved by everyone.

To make it even more hearty, I love to add chopped kale or collard greens (as the recipe below reflects).  The broth is smoky, a little bit spicy, and bursting with flavor.

And then, of course, comes the best part.  The toppings: crushed tortilla chips, grated sharp cheddar cheese, cilantro, diced avocado, and fresh lime juice.  Texture heaven!  Enjoy.

Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

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Soup Ingredients:

  • 2 large dried pasilla ancho chiles
  • 1 (15-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen brand)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • kosher sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups roughly chopped kale leaves, stems removed
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken breast, cut into 1/2" chunks
  • juice from half a lime


  • fresh lime wedges
  • corn tortilla chips
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • avocados (1-2), pit removed and diced
  • fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Using metal tongs, toast the chiles carefully over an open flame (using a gas burner--or alternatively, in a dry skillet over medium heat) until they are soft and fragrant. Set aside on a cutting board to cool, before discarding the seeds and stems. Cut the chile roughly and place in a blender, along with the fire roasted tomatoes in their juices. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic and stirring frequently, cook until soft and translucent--roughly 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked onion and garlic to the blender with the tomatoes and chiles. Puree all of the ingredients together until very smooth.
  4. Return the soup pot to high heat. Once pot is very hot, add the pureed tomato chile mixture all at once--it should sizzle immediately. Continue to cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens substantially--for about 5-6 minutes--once it is ready, it should resemble the thickness of a loose tomato paste.
  5. Add the chicken broth to the pot and combine thoroughly using a spoon or whisk. Reduce the heat and allow the broth to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Over low heat, add the kale and chicken. Stir occasionally until chicken is just cooked through (this should only take 2-3 minutes). Finish the soup with lime juice.
  7. Serve hot with toppings (or alternatively, place toppings in empty bowls and pour soup directly over them).

Recipe adapted lightly from Mexican Every Day by Rick Bayless. Dried pasilla ancho chiles can be found at Whole Foods or specialty Mexican markets.


More soup week here, here, and here….

47 Responses to “Classic Mexican Tortilla Soup”

  1. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — January 9, 2014 @ 7:12 am

    Blender soup. Avocado. Tortilla!!! soup! Yes I love everything about this. Pinned

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:55 am

      Thank you so so much for sharing Averie!!! Have a great weekend!

  2. #
    Joanne — January 9, 2014 @ 8:11 am

    I vote for a soup week every month!! Boy does this look slurpable. By which I mean delicious.

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:55 am

      Oooh, ok. Might have to do this until the weather gets too hot to pull it off! Haha

  3. #
    Tieghan — January 9, 2014 @ 8:26 am

    I just made a soup pretty similar, but used some kale! I love all the spice. I have a hard time finding peppers where I live. Total bummer.

    And any soup with chips involved is good soup!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:54 am

      Maybe you can order them on amazon?? Also, Penzey’s is an amazing spice store, which also has a mail order catalogue, and they ship anywhere. You should try it!

  4. #
    Ali @ Inspiralized — January 9, 2014 @ 8:43 am

    I am a huge fan of tortilla soup – especially with those crunchy tortilla strips on top, I can never get enough. It’s just the most comforting, filling meal!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:53 am

      Yes! Absolutely, so true. Have a great weekend Ali!

  5. #
    Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes — January 9, 2014 @ 8:55 am

    I’ve yet to make a tortilla soup! This is awesome Laura, and the pics are phenomenal, as usual

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:52 am

      You’re so sweet Paula!! Thank you!!

  6. #
    Nicole ~ Cooking for Keeps — January 9, 2014 @ 10:00 am

    That broth looks so FLAVORFUL! It’s funny you posted this today, I’m making an authentic tortilla soup for dinner tonight! I just got back from Mexico, and just fell in love with tortilla soup all over again. I might have to try this version!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:52 am

      Great timing!! Sounds like a wonderful trip–I haven’t been to Mexico in the longest time!

  7. #
    pippa@popovertopippas — January 9, 2014 @ 10:05 am

    this is one of my favorite soups too!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:52 am

      Have you made it with the pasilla negro chiles?!

  8. #
    Liz @ Virtually Homemade — January 9, 2014 @ 10:26 am

    I luuuv tortilla soup – this is beautiful. Pinned :)

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:51 am

      Thanks for sharing Liz!

  9. #
    Natalie @ Tastes Lovely — January 9, 2014 @ 11:06 am

    What a delicious week of soups you’ve had! I love tortilla soup, topped with an entire half of avocado and a big squeeze of lime. yum!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:50 am

      Yes, yes, and yes!

  10. #
    Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough — January 9, 2014 @ 11:09 am

    We bought my dad that cookbook years ago and every time he busts it out to make dinner for us when we’re in town, I know I’m in for something wonderful. And you really can’t go wrong with tortilla soup, either. I have to try this ASAP!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:50 am

      Yes! I need to make more things from it–but I love this soup so much. Have a great weekend friend!

  11. #
    Jennie @themessybakerblog — January 9, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    I love everything about this soup. This is gonna happen in the kitchen soon. Pinned.

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:49 am

      Thanks Jennie!!!

  12. #
    Coty and Mariah@quirksandtwists — January 9, 2014 @ 6:38 pm

    I’m glad you used dried chili’s in this recipe, gives me an excuse to use them:)

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:49 am

      Yes–can’t really imagine this soup without them. Let me know if you try it!

  13. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — January 10, 2014 @ 11:33 am

    those fire roasted tomatoes look insane!!! love this.

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:48 am

      Thanks so much!!

  14. #
    Lily @ Life, Love, and Cupcakes — January 10, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

    Tortilla soup is my absolute favorite, but I’m always just a bit disappointed with all the recipes I’ve tried.. I will have to try this because it sounds amazing!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:46 am

      Oh! Definitely try this one–I think some Mexican tortilla soups don’t call for chiles, which I can’t really imagine either. Let me know if you do! Thanks Lily!

  15. #
    Elizabeth — January 10, 2014 @ 10:39 pm

    Tortilla soup is my favorite! I will have to try this!!

    • Laura replied: — January 11th, 2014 @ 10:46 am

      Isn’t it the best?! Thanks Elizabeth!

  16. #
    Laurie {Simply Scratch} — January 13, 2014 @ 10:03 pm

    I totally agree with you on the fire roasted tomatoes! What is it about those things?? Anywho… your soup looks utterly delicious and perfect in every way!

    • Laura replied: — January 14th, 2014 @ 11:12 pm

      Yes! Those and the chiles. Can’t get enough. Thanks so much Laurie!

  17. #
    Masha — January 21, 2014 @ 7:50 pm

    We just finished eating this soup. So good! I didn’t have dry chilies so i just broiled some until they are nice and charred. The soup came out fantastic! The whole family loved it. My son said it was better than in a restaurant! Thank you Laura for a great idea. I’m becoming quite a follower of yours!

    • Laura replied: — February 15th, 2014 @ 6:43 pm

      So, so glad you enjoyed it Masha! :)

  18. #
    Frank Mosher — January 24, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    “Classic” with Kale???

  19. #
    Scott — April 18, 2015 @ 10:07 am

    Hi! Im making this today – can I check its 8 cups of stock? That’s 2 litres in UK measurements which seems an awful lot? Thanks

    • Laura replied: — April 18th, 2015 @ 10:11 am

      Yes!!! 8 cups is correct! Seems like a lot but don’t worry! Hope you love it. It’s one of my favorite soups EVER.

  20. #
    Brianne — August 24, 2015 @ 4:03 am

    I’m very excited about making this soup and I love the twist of using Kale!  Question though, what do you thin about substituting a white fish for the chicken?

    • Laura replied: — August 24th, 2015 @ 4:04 pm

      Thanks Brianne! It’s one of my MOST FAVORITE SOUPS ever! (Seriously, I make it all the time.) Personally, I wouldn’t really recommend substituting white fish for the chicken. I like the idea in theory, but I just don’t think the soup will be quite as good. You really want something that is sturdy and holds it shape (shrimp might work?), which is why the chicken is ideal. Plus, the toppings, such as grated cheddar will pair better with chicken! But definitely let me know if you DO try it with fish, I’d love to know how it works out.

  21. #
    natasha — October 16, 2015 @ 3:11 pm

    This recipe looks great!  I’ve posted it on my page!!


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