Chicken Tortilla Soup #glutenfree #caseinfree

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ahhhh, chicken tortilla soup.

Where do I begin? To use one of my dad’s favorite words – I am somewhat of a chicken tortilla soup “connoisseur”. I have probably ordered it at every Mexican restaurant or hotel that I’ve been to since I first discovered it more than 20 years ago. I’ve also grown picky. I don’t like it green or thickened or with a giant corn cob in it.

So I would like to tell you that this recipe is my favorite, we like it but I’m still working on it. My favorite chicken tortilla soup came from a little taqueria called El Rey on N. Shepherd & Washington in Houston.

Many years ago when I was in grad school (the PhD years), I lived at the Allen House Apartments downtown. I didn’t have to time to cook a lot nor did I particularly want to so we were always on the look out for amazing places to eat that weren’t very expensive. Houston has incredible restaurants and even better dives.

My girlfriend and I would drive through El Rey Taqueria often and order several quarts of the chicken tortilla soup. It even became part of our plans on a Saturday before going out because we knew we’d want it on Sunday afternoon – they were closed on Sunday and it was hangover magic. She had a band and I usually went to her gigs to watch them play at some pretty cool venues in Houston. It was a lot of fun.

So I’m still perfecting this recipe but it is getting to a place where I might be satisfied (although now I’m realizing I’m chasing the El Rey tortilla soup).

Roasting the tomatoes, poblano pepper and jalapeños has added a deeper level of flavor.  The longer you cook it, the better it gets.

I know everybody else must have a favorite recipe for chicken tortilla soup, too. How do you like to make yours?

Serving Size: 4

Chicken Tortilla Soup #glutenfree #caseinfree
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  • 2 large jalapeños, deseeded and halved (or 1 tbsp dried jalapeños)
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 5 Roma tomatoes (or 8 oz tomato sauce or 15 oz diced tomatoes)
  • 4-5 non-GMO corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for spraying
  • Regular salt (for sprinkling and adjusting to taste)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn (organic or non-GMO)
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 1 tsp GF seasoned salt
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1 bunch cilantro, minced plus leaves for garnish
  • 7-8 chicken tenders (or 2 chicken breasts cut into pieces)
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 small avocado, sliced


  1. Wash, rinse and dry all of the fresh vegetables (jalapeños, poblano, tomatoes and cilantro) before prepping. Pick off the cilantro leaves and discard the stems. Mince most of the cilantro reserving some for garnish.
  2. Set the oven broiler to high. Cut tomatoes in half and deseed. Arrange them on a baking sheet cut side down along with the jalapeños and poblano. Put under the broiler for about 5-10 minutes so that they start roasting and blister. Let cool, peel the skins off of the tomatoes and discard. Chop the tomato flesh, jalapeños and poblano.
  3. Switch the oven to bake at 450 degrees F. Cut the corn tortillas into strips and place on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp. Sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or 3.5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onions and corn. Cook for a few minutes then add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes (or tomato sauce), jalapeños, poblano, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, cumin and coriander. Bring to a boil then add the chicken tenders. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove the chicken and shred with two forks.
  5. Add lime juice and cilantro to the soup and salt to taste. Cook for a few more minutes. Place the shredded chicken into soup bowls. Leftover Mexican rice can be added as well if you’ve got some in the fridge. Ladle the soup into the bowls and serve with corn tortillas strips, avocado and fresh cilantro on top.


Tip 1: Have you noticed how much more expensive chicken tenders are than buying a bone-in chicken breast? Lately I’ve been buying the bone-in chicken breasts and cutting the chicken (breast and tender) off the bone, then freezing the bones to make homemade chicken stock/broth later on. Saves us a little money.


Enjoy!!!! 🙂



Deana Larkin Evans

Hi! I'm Deana. This food blog is all about cooking wholesome real food and developing gluten free recipes for some of our favorite comfort foods. I also create weekly menus to save time and money while reducing stress and food waste. I had to start eating gluten-free in 2010 and dairy/casein-free (except for the occasional Parmesan or goat cheese) in 2014. I'm kind of a science nerd, too. In the '90s, I earned an undergrad degree in biochemistry from The University of Texas at Austin. Hook 'em! Then followed up with a PhD in biochemistry and a law degree from the University of Houston. I recently earned a certificate in genomics/sequence analysis from Johns Hopkins University, where I also took a very cool food microbiology course.

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5 Responses

  1. Jennifer Fuller says:
    Those were the days and I still crave that soup! I will have to make this and freeze a whole bunch of it!
  2. Notes: Every time I make tortilla soup I tweak this recipe a bit. I'm still chasing deeper and richer flavors as well as making sure every ingredient is now organic. A few weeks ago, I harvested the last of my red jalapeño peppers and made a roasted red pepper sauce. Because we don't have any more jalapeños in the garden and couldn't find any organic ones - I used the red pepper sauce instead. I cooked the onions with a couple spoons of the sauce before adding the garlic and 1 Serrano pepper. I also added a heaping teaspoon of my favorite new chicken seasoning (a blend of seasoned salt, sumac, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder and oregano). We used diced organic tomatoes from Muir Glen and 1 tablespoon of organic tomato paste (both from BPA-free cans). I honestly think this is the best version we've made so far! I just love cooking and improving on recipes until you get them just the way you like them. Don't you? Oh and we nixed the Mexican rice, too.
  3. LFFL says:
    I love the layout of your blog. Your pictures are wonderful, too.