Adam’s Tortilla Soup

Ever since I first tasted it on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1999, I have maintained a special place in my heart for tortilla soup. Since then I’ve had good and no-so-good tortilla soup at restaurants and enjoyed a decent version in the Middlebury College dining halls. Over this past Christmas holiday my mother made a tortilla soup from a New York Times recipe convincing me to give this soup a try myself.

I went into my soup planning to generally follow the New York Times recipe, with the addition of chicken and corn, but ended up deviating quite a bit with good results. As well I usually just use corn tortilla chips rather than frying or baking flour-tortillas. This saves a bit of work and makes for very easy left-over eating.

This recipe should serve 4 as a main course and leftovers are great frozen.


  • A few tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion – chopped
  • 1 chicken leg or breast, cut into small (less than 1-inch) pieces
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • About a quart of frozen tomatoes or a 28oz can of tomatoes
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 large bag of tortilla chips

In a large pot…

  1. Sauté the onion and chicken in olive oil until the onion starts to get translucent and the chicken isn’t raw.
  2. Add the garlic and chili powder and cook for another few minutes, but not so much as to brown or scorch the garlic.
  3. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes until the tomatoes reduce a bit.
  4. Add the stock and frozen corn. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  5. Use an immersion blender, pulse the blender a few times to grind up the larger chunks of chicken, tomatoes, and onion, but not so much as to puree all of the corn. A variety textures from purée to small chunks is what I aim for.
  6. Add the chopped cilantro, salt to taste, and stir.


  1. Put soup in bowls, top with broken tortilla chips.
  2. Optionally, add crumbled queso fresco or other cheese.

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