Tasty Tortilla Soup

gluten-free tortilla soup, gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian or vegan option

I’m one who doesn’t usually make soup often during the summer months, but the other day it was cold and rainy. The temperature didn’t even reach 70 degrees, and the dampness made it feel much cooler. “Is this really June?” I thought. Well, now it’s hot again, so the answer is yes. Sunday is officially the first day of summer, so it’s time! I’ll take the heat, but just give us a break on the rain, please. However, with the rain and unseasonable coolness the other day, I was happy to have a good reason to make tortilla soup. Also, Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix called for green beans this week, so I thought this recipe would be a great entry, as I use green beans often in making it. This Tortilla Soup comes together quickly to provide a very satisfying meal in flavor and nutrition. The tortilla part of the recipe—the crunchy topping provided by fried corn tortillas—makes it especially tasty and fun. Our family has been enjoying it for several years now. I also double it from time to time so I can share with family and friends. The container of tortilla strips included in their care packages initially surprises most of them, but they all end up praising the combination of the spicy vegetable soup and tortilla topping that is Tortilla Soup. I try to always have salsa in my pantry,  just so I can make this soup any time I like.

Tortilla Soup
(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

28 ounces chicken broth*
1 jar red or green salsa (Select your favorite salsa with your favorite level of spiciness. I used mild red salsa and opted for one that did not contain high fructose corn syrup. This recipe is especially terrific with organic or homemade salsa.)
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey (I used the meat that came off a chicken carcass, cut into bite-sized pieces. This soup is also a great way to use turkey leftovers. Omit for vegetarian/vegan option. )
About 2 cups of green beans or other veggies of choice, like chopped zucchini (I used frozen green beans. Our grocery store didn’t have any fresh ones and it’s too early for my mother-in-law’s homegrown green beans.)
About 1 ½ cups of corn kernels (I used frozen.)

Tortilla Strips for Topping/”Crackers”

Four 6-inch corn tortillas, cut into strips
Cooking oil (I used olive oil)

In large saucepan/pot, combine chicken broth and salsa and bring to boil over medium-high heat. While broth/salsa mixture is heating, cook tortilla strips in hot oil until crisp (they cook quickly) and then remove to drain on paper towels. When the broth/salsa mixture reaches boiling, stir in the chicken (or turkey) and vegetables.

Tortilla Soup 040

Reduce heat to a simmer and continue simmering until the vegetables are done and soup is heated through (usually about 10 minutes). (If using fresh green beans or other veggies, you’ll want to add the green beans with the broth and salsa to ensure they are cooked completely, unless you like them really crunchy.) Serve in bowls topped with tortilla strips, which you can break and “sprinkle” on top as you like. Tortilla Soup 051-1

The tortilla strips can actually be used as a topping or “crackers” for any soup or as a crunchy little snack—very tasty with a nice cracker texture and also very economical. (Several of our support group members are using the tortilla strips in place of gluten-free crackers since I first served them Tortilla Soup at one of our meetings. As long as you have a bag of gluten-free corn tortillas in the refrigerator, you can make your own “crackers” any time.) Other options for a bread to serve with this soup versus the tortilla strips are my Flat and Firm Cornbread or Super Easy Popovers. Oh, and my Marvelous Cheese Muffins would also be great with this soup.

Makes about 6 soup mug-size bowls (the size shown in photo).

*I made my broth from simmering a rotisserie chicken carcass. But, I also make broth sometimes by using Better than Bouillon chicken base from my local grocery store. (Herb-Ox states that their bouillon is gluten free.) If you like, you can use canned broth instead, but note that not all canned broth is gluten free—always check the label. Use vegetarian broth for vegetarian/vegan option.

Shirley’s Notes: For draining the tortilla strips, I always place newspaper under one paper towel for extra absorption. (I remember reading that our local newspaper is printed with vegetable-based dyes, so I feel safe doing that.) You really do not need to add anything other than the ingredients shown—the seasoning provided by the salsa is just right and the amount of onions, tomatoes, etc. is perfect, too. But, you can be flexible and add or substitute some other veggies (like chopped zucchini, peas, butter beans, or peppers), especially if your garden is happily producing. I figure out amounts when I’m getting creative with the veggies by looking to see if I have enough color and still enough liquid. If you use canned vegetables, you can use the whole can of vegetables and the liquid. However, don’t add so many vegetables or liquid that you lose the special zip of the salsa. Taste test along the way if modifying the recipe this way. When I have doubled the recipe or used a lot more vegetables, I have just added additional salsa as needed to maintain the spicy flavor level. This soup can also be served with lime wedges, sour cream, and cilantro, if you wish.

Adapted from a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine


Not just gf, but gfe!

This post is linked to the Friday Foodie Fix-Chicken over at The W.H.O.L.E. Gang and Friday Favorites, co-hosted by Liz at Hoosier Homemade and Monica from Daily Dwelling.

Full Disclosure/Disclaimer: This post may contain one or more affiliate links. If you purchase through them, your cost will always be the same, but I will receive a small commission. Thanks for the support! Read the full disclaimer here.


34 Responses to “Tasty Tortilla Soup”

  1. Diane-thewholegang on June 19th, 2009 11:02 am

    Yum, looks really good. Going to go make that for lunch today! Thanks for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on June 19th, 2009 10:24 pm

      Hi, Diane!–Thanks. :-) Hope you enjoyed it! Yesterday, my friend/boss brought in her homemade salsa (that is out of this world) for us to enjoy. I wanted to steal some for my next batch of tortilla soup. Have to go check out the Friday Foodie Fix recipes!

      Happy Friday!

  2. Lauren on June 19th, 2009 1:28 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had tortilla soup, but this looks lovely =D. The tortilla strips look especially good!!

    • Shirley on June 19th, 2009 10:27 pm

      Hey, Lauren!–I think you’d really like it. There are lots of tortilla soup recipes out there and some are quite complicated. This one can’t be beat IMHO. ;-) You’re right about the tortilla strips … they make the recipe. Otherwise, you’d just have spicy chicken vegetable soup.

      Have a great weekend!

  3. Brian on June 19th, 2009 1:47 pm

    Your soup looks great, I’ll have to try it. I like the homemade tortilla crisps.

    • Shirley on June 19th, 2009 10:31 pm

      Hi, Brian–I told you we were on a similar wavelength when I commented on your blog. Taco soup for you … tortilla soup for me. ;-)

      Ah, yes, tortilla crisps—”that’s the ticket!” That’s the perfect word for them—thank you! :-)


  4. carrie on June 20th, 2009 3:42 pm

    Shirley!! I don’t know why i’ve never thought to make my own tortilla strips by frying them (I can’t seem to get away from frying stuff!! haha… it’s so tasty!!) I definitely will have to give this a try! nice post!

    • Shirley on June 20th, 2009 6:42 pm

      Hey, Carrie!–I don’t do too much frying any more, but it’s worth it to fry these. You don’t need to use a lot of oil (although you can see some glistening in my photo—gasp). Grapeseed oil is a good options for frying, too. They are tasty for sure and easy to make any time. One friend makes her own tortilla chips the same way in her deep fryer (to serve with her awesome salsa). I have to admit they are delicious, but I’m not going for that large of a quantity.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I just found your articles in The Examiner online. Very cool!


  5. H.Peter on June 20th, 2009 6:34 pm

    Das ist eine gute Suppe!

    If you think 70 is cold, ehm, well, Calgary is out…

    • Shirley on June 20th, 2009 6:47 pm

      Hi, Peter–Hey, I understood that perfectly employing my one year of college German. Now, how well I could say it or come up with it on my own might be another story. ;-)

      Temps are relative. Not even 70, rainy, and damp, after warm days just feels chilly. But, a day that warm in mid-winter feels like a treat. I do get cold easily. I was in Calgary in July last time. I am pretty sure I didn’t don any shorts (hmmm, maybe at the zoo, it was pretty warm the day we were there), but I did wear short sleeves some. I do remember wearing a jacket at points when we were touring Banff. I don’t mind wearing more layers and I enjoy soup a lot! :-)


    • Shirley on June 20th, 2009 7:01 pm

      Oh, and I should reply “Danke vielmals!” Yes, I had to look that up after all these years. I could have said Danke schoen!, but it’s so Wayne Newtonish. ;-) LOL


  6. glutenfreeforgood on June 21st, 2009 5:53 pm

    Green beans in tortilla soup? You always throw me off with your southern additions, although I have to say, I’ve tried many of them and like your style. Can’t say I’ve ever had anything but various hot peppers, tomatoes, and regular southwestern fare in tortilla soup, but I’m up for a change. I’ll give it a try.

    Now, have you ever seen the movie? Tortilla Soup? It’s probably 7 or 8 years old. I loved it! I had forgotten all about it until reading your blog post and now I think I’ll try to find it somewhere. It’s delightful — and food is woven through it. Good, good.

    Thanks, Shirley. I’m off for some green bean Mexican soup and a movie.



    • Shirley on June 22nd, 2009 7:23 am

      Good morning, Melissa!–LOL I don’t know that I’d call my additions “Southern additions” … more likely they are “Shirley additions.” This soup is like many I make—flexible, with me changing the ingredients according to what I have on hand and what I’m in the mood for. I really like it with peas. I had planned on adding some sweet peppers, but realized the ones I had were too far gone. (I hate when that happens … food guilt.) It’s a simple soup that can adapt nicely to different veggies.

      I haven’t seen that movie! But, I have heard of it and now that I have your endorsement, I will rent it soon. Thanks for the review … a movie with a food theme has to be a winner. Chocolat is an absolute favorite of mine.

      Thanks so much!

  7. Cindi on June 21st, 2009 9:25 pm

    I love tortilla soup, but have never had it quite like this. I love all the ingredients, though, so I’ll need to try it. I love soup in general – anytime of the year – even cold soup, like gazpacho. Can’t wait to see you now that I’m back in the area (sort of – close enough, anyway).

    • Shirley on June 22nd, 2009 8:09 am

      Hey, Cindi–I think it’s hard to go wrong with tortilla soup. As long as it’s not complicated and naturally gluten free, I’m in. ;-) Oh, I love soup all year long, too. I just don’t usually make it during the summer. And, unfortunately, not many restaurants offer gf soup. We ate at a favorite place yesterday on the way to the mtns, and they had sweet potato soup. However, the owner told me she had added flour and she said she was aware of food intolerances and could have made it gluten free and dairy free, but just wasn’t thinking when she made it. Boy, eating sweet potato soup would have been a neat treat! I might have to make my own.

      My friend, Anali, raved over a cold avocado citrus soup from a Boston restaurant called The Elephant Walk in one of her posts a while back. A reader of hers just found the recipe online. I must try it. You might want to as well! :-) Check it out here.


    • Shirley on June 22nd, 2009 8:12 am

      Cinci–Oops, forgot the most important part … YES, it’s terrific that you are back in the greater area!!! Can’t wait for us all to meet up soon! :-)


  8. Anali on June 22nd, 2009 8:30 pm

    This soup looks wonderful! It’s been really cold and rainy here in Massachusetts. Right now I have a sweatshirt on and I’m shivering. It’s supposed to get warm on Thursday. I sure hope so.

    • Shirley on June 22nd, 2009 11:06 pm

      Hi there, Anali–It’s very good soup and it would warm you up quickly. :-) Up and down summer weather so far. Today was a great day here though.

      I don’t mind donning a sweatshirt when we are in the mtns sitting by the campfire, but don’t want to have to do it at home in June. I like seasons to be well, seasonal. LOL Sending you some warmth … ;-)


  9. noble pig on June 23rd, 2009 10:58 am

    Soup is a great summer diversion when the weather takes a turn!

    • Shirley on June 24th, 2009 9:31 pm

      Hi Cathy–Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment! I know you’re unpacking and getting acclimated while moving along your dream path to have your own winery. I love all the recent photos of the progress on your acreage that you posted on your site. :-)


  10. Amy Green on June 26th, 2009 10:34 pm

    Shirley – Yes! We are definitely on the same wavelength. Who doesn’t love tortilla soup?? I see that you had green beans and corn which looks great. I like the fried tortilla strips – I don’t eat tortillas but my husband would love if I’d make these for him. :)

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2009 11:11 pm

      Hey, Amy–I make my tortilla soup a bit differently each time. I like trying slightly different variations with this soup. No matter what I add though, it never fails to please. I bet your version is the same way. :-)

      I am sure your husband would love the fried tortilla strips … they are quite good and provide a nice alternative crunch to crackers.

      Thanks so much!

  11. Diane-The WHOLE Gang on October 18th, 2009 9:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix. Still love it.

  12. Shannon J on September 8th, 2011 12:39 am

    I make chicken tortilla soup many times a year, especially during the winter. The only real difference with mine is I add Velveeta cheese to make it, well, cheesy. It’s how we like it in our house and we just inhale it! Yum.

    • Shirley on September 8th, 2011 12:42 am

      Hi Shannon–I’m sure your version is absolutely delicious! :-) Thanks for sharing!


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