Fabulous Tortilla Soup

So, I told y’all I grew up out in the boonies?  Right?  Because of this, we rarely ate out.  The only time we ever went to a non-drive through was when my parents drove to the ‘big city’ to buy our Christmas tree.  This was a BIG deal to me because we always ate at Red Lobster.  I thought we were rich.  A 7-foot Frasier Fur and popcorn shrimp in the same night?!  Daddy must have got a raise!

Besides the Red Lobster tradition every year, I have one very memorable restaurant experience.  One of my mom’s sisters had three daughters.  They were a few years older than me, but I adored them.  Still do.  I wanted to be like them, dress like them, live where they lived.  They all moved away from the country and lived in the ‘Big City’ where we went to purchase our Fabulous Frasier Fur every year.

One Saturday, my Momma and I met up with her sister and her three girls.  They took us to their favorite local diner to eat.  Because I just adored them, when they said ‘they have the BEST tortilla soup’…well….guess what I ordered?

Now, I had no idea what tortilla soup was.  Unless Momma made me homemade chicken noodle when I had strep throat….Campbell’s Chicken and Stars was the extent of my knowledge when it came to soups.

So, I ordered the soup…and my oh my….it was FABULOUS!  I felt so grown up and Big-Cityish– siting with all the grown up girls in the non-Red Lobster Restaurant eatin’ my soup and drinking my iced tea.  It still gives me the warm and fuzzies.

Fast forward several years when my husband (then boyfriend) and I needed a place to study and catch a bite to eat.  I mentioned this diner…and he’d never been there.  Long story short, I made him try the tortilla soup, and he loved it.  And thus began my epic quest to hone in on a recipe that came close to theirs.

Here’s what I’ve come up with.  It’s pretty close.  My husband and I love it.  Our boys do too!  They refer to it as ‘our favorite soup’.  It’s picture-mania first, followed by the recipe.

Ingredients. Don’t mine my husband…he’s probably sweeping up goldfish or millions cheerios. It’s what we do round’ these parts for fun.  Also, please ignore the Windex.  That bottle is my little buddy and will often be a guest star in any photo I take whilst in the kitchen.

Chop the bell peppers, chicken, onions, and throw on a Tsp. of minced garlic.

Coat the bottom of the pot with olive oil and heat on medium-high heat.

Saute the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in some olive oil on medium heat. Cook until tender.

I’ve fiddled around with adding chile powder and just salt and pepper. But one day all I had in the house was Taco Seasoning…and, surprisingly, it was PERFECT. Low sodium isn’t necessary.

Add the chicken and taco seasoning….

Saute chicken until slightly browned on each side, about 5 minutes. It will cook through during the boiling process, so no need to worry about the Salmonella’s or the E-Coli’s and all the other junk you can catch from undercooked poutry.

Add Rotel or generic tomato/pepper mix….


Add broth….

Then the water….

Salt, if you please.

Pepper too!

Let it cook on medium-high heat for a good 30 minutes. More if you’re not a procrastinator like myself :)

Meanwhile….Start finely slicing the corn tortillas into strips.

Fry ’em up in a pot of vegetable or canola oil. It takes about 1-2 minutes to get them perfect. Too long, they taste burnt. Not long enough….they’re soggy. Watch ’em close.

Drain the fried strips on a paper towel….An amazingly delicious future awaits them….

Fill up your bowl….

Top with tortilla strips…

And cheese….





I hope it brings back some warm and fuzzy memories for you too!

Fabulous Tortilla Soup

4.5 from 2 reviews
Fabulous Tortilla Soup
Recipe type: Tortilla Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 3-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced or cubed)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp. Minced garlic...fresh or jarred.
  • 1 onion (white or yellow will do), chopped finely
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped finely
  • 1 can Rotel (or the generic version...choose the hot-factor you prefer)
  • Yellow, white, or red corn tortillas (At least 10, more if you like to avoid a fight...)
  • Olive Oil
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Avocado (optional)
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  1. In a deep pot (don't even ask me about quart sizes...just eye it), saute the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in about 3 Tbls. of olive oil.
  2. Once the onions and bell peppers are tender, add in diced chicken, and half the packet of Taco Seasoning mix. Allow chicken to cook on each side....browning is not necessary.
  3. Add 1 can of Rotel or the generic stuff, juice and all. Cover with 3 cups of chicken broth and 3 cups of water. This is a personal decision. You can forgo the chicken broth and use all water. I do that if I'm out of broth. My husband loves the broth flavor and I love to make him happy. So, it's broth for me :)
  4. Allow this to come to a full boil for about 30 minutes or longer if you're not a procrastinator and have time to let it really mature before the dinner bell rings. Me, being the last minute, fly by the seat of my pants type of gal I am....usually spoon it into bowls still scalding and then must administer ice cubes to tongues. I'm a good mom like that.
  5. While this is boiling, use a smaller pot and fill ½-3/4 of the way with Vegetable or Canola Oil. Heat on med-high heat. Chop the corn tortillas into very thing strips and fry in batches for about 1-2 minutes or until crispy. Too long will make them taste burny, too little will make them chewy. It's an art. They won't tell you that on Food Network...
  6. Drain the tortilla strips on a paper towel and set aside. Make lots of these b/c little hands will sneak up throughout the time your soup is maturing and sneak these strips. Trust me.
  7. Then, just ladle your soup into large bowel, top with tortilla strips, cheese, avocado, sour cream and even some cilantro if you'd like.


It’s SOOO yummy.  I would imagine it would freeze pretty well too.  I’ve never tried it.  Enjoy!!!


**For a vegetarian/Lenten option….just don’t add the chicken or chicken broth.  Simply skip that step and add all water or vegetable broth and it’ll be just as yummy!


  1. This looks SO delish! I love tortilla soup, but I always use the store bought chips. I’ll have to try it this way. 🙂

  2. I have a similar recipe that I throw in the crock pot & let it simmer all day. Yummmy! Since we’re in Southeast Texas, it’s cool enough for soup here, too 🙂 (Finally!)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for stopping by DizzyDeb! I’m SO terrible with my crockpot! I don’t know why. It would make my day so much easier! Maybe that’ll be my new year’s resolution! LOL!

  3. I was looking for the Red Lobster Tortilla Soup recipe when I googled yours…just wanted to left you know I adapted mine a bit and you may want to try if you like cabbage???
    When cooking the onion and green pepper veggies I added a 1/4 head of shredded cabbage and cooked it with the veggies. Trying to be calorie conscious I left out the tortillas and cheese but added a tbsp of Cayenne Pepper making it sorta look like a salsa soup but it is spicy and very yummy…love your blog, take care:)

    • Elizabeth says:

      Oh Yummy Gayle!!! My husband is watching his weight after his annual check-up and LOVES spicy! I’ll def. have to try adding the cabbage/cayenee and removing the cheese. Thank you SO much for this idea! My hubby will love ya!

  4. Carol Hanson says:

    I plan to try this, but I will be baking the chips, and using different spices (something in taco seasoning bothers hubby’s system). Going easy on the cheese should make this a pretty healthy dish!

  5. Martin Couey says:

    I just got through making this. It tastes just like Red Lobster’s soup. I will definitely be making this again! Thanks for the recipe!

  6. Thanks so much for this post
    I’m really not feeling well and I only like two kinds of soup. Outbacks potato soup and red lobster chicken tortilla. I’m defnitely going to try this one as soon as I can get to the grocery store.

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