Homemade Chicken Tortilla Soup

This chicken tortilla soup is made with roasted peppers, lots of garlic, and seasoned salt for deeper flavors.  It is dairy-free and gluten-free.

Chicken Tortilla Soup | Gluten-free, Dairy-Free

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.

My favorite chicken tortilla soup came from a little taqueria called El Rey on N. Shepherd & Washington in Houston.  And I’m trying to get it just like I remember.

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.

But after getting married, I started to cook more often than not.  Meaning most of the time. And we love tortilla soup.  It is regularly on the menu especially when the weather finally cools down.

It is naturally gluten and dairy-free.  We use mostly organic ingredients.  And we like it garlicky and spicy with a depth of flavors.

Secrets to Perfection

I found that roasting the tomatoes, poblano pepper and jalapeños adds a deeper level of flavor.  

I also started using Redmond Real Salt Seasoned Salt.  And that really added more flavor.  I love this seasoned salt and pretty much add it to everything now.  It makes everything taste better plus it is organic. 

It contains a blend of Real Salt, Organic Garlic, Organic Onion, Organic Coriander, Organic Mustard, Organic Black Pepper, Organic Paprika, Organic Celery Seed, Organic Turmeric, & Organic Parsley.

Other ingredients I really like to use are often organic and clean.  We try to buy organic peppers and tomatoes.  The spices we use are generally from Simply Organic spices.  And the sweet organic corn comes from Cascadian Farm.  You really want to stay away from GMO corn heavily sprayed with Round-up (glyphosate).

And our favorite chicken is organic air-chilled chicken from Smart Chicken.  It is perfect for this Lemon Garlic Chicken and Potatoes recipe.  We use it in so many of our recipes.  And the boneless breasts work really well in this chicken tortilla soup.

So the soup only takes about 30 minutes to cook up but the longer you cook it, the better it gets.  And it’s really delicious as lunch the next day.  It also freezes really well.  So you could always make a bigger batch and freeze a bunch of it.

I used to make it with black beans then decided I didn’t like them in the soup.  But you could always add in beans.  I’m weird.  But the chicken tortilla soup is tasty!  Enjoy.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup | Gluten-free, Dairy-Free

Chicken tortilla soup is a delicious comfort food that is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free and full of nutritious veggies!

Course Soup
Cuisine American, Mexican
Keyword chicken tortilla soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Author Deana Larkin Evans


  • 2 large jalapeños, deseeded and halved
  • 1 large poblano pepper
  • 6 large Roma tomatoes
  • 4 non-GMO corn tortillas
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt (for sprinkling and adjusting to taste)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup frozen organic sweet corn (organic or non-GMO)
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock
  • 2 tsp GF Redmond organic seasoned salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into thirds
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice


  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.

  3. Remove from oven. Cover and let cool, then peel the skins off and discard. Chop the tomato flesh, jalapeños and poblano.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Add the chicken stock, fire-roasted tomatoes (or tomato sauce), jalapeños, poblano, seasoned salt, cumin and coriander. Bring to a boil then add the chicken tenders. Simmer for about 20 minutes or longer.

  7. Carefully remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Place into bowls.

  8. Add lime juice and cilantro to the soup and salt to taste. Cook for a few more minutes. Then ladle the soup into the bowls and serve with corn tortillas strips and fresh cilantro on top.

Recipe Notes

Recipe Substitutions:

  1. 1 tbsp dried jalapeños 
  2. 8 oz tomato sauce or 15 oz diced tomatoes

Deana Larkin Evans

You get one life - do your best to ENJOY IT! So 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 had to start eating gluten-free in 2010, then cut dairy and casein (except for the occasional Parmesan) in 2014. We learned A2 casein (goat, sheep and buffalo milk) is easier to digest than the predominate A1 form in cow milk. So we brought back goat milk dairy into our recipes in 2016. Thank goodness, right! So 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. Currently, I'm learning about the microbiome and gut health. And trying to come up with healthy recipes to feed those gut bugs! #feedthegutbugs

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6 Responses

  1. Wendy B says:

    This recipe for El Rey chicken soup is fantastic! We love that soup and wanted to make it at home. It was an ambitious project for me, but it turned out great and I’ll be making it again and again. Thank you!

  2. 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!

  3. LFFL says:

    I love the layout of your blog. Your pictures are wonderful, too.

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