recipe: tortilla soup

Sometimes a food craving hits you and nothing else will do. So when a hankering for tortilla soup showed up during a torrential downpour last week, I took it as a sign that I should stay in and cook.

The very best tortilla soup I've ever had was a smoky, tomatillo version served by Chef Traci Des Jardins at a James Beard Award gala, and ever since I've been obsessed with this complex, spicy soup. In NYC, the best bowl I've found is at the generally awesome Fonda (particularly the location in Park Slope). But in lieu of dining out, the below should do the trick!

homemade tortilla soup


  • 1 small red onion, halved and skin removed
  • half head garlic, in paper
  • 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (prepared in advance)
  • 6 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
  • 1 dozen corn tortillas
  • 3 limes, cut into wedges
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • cilantro, chopped
  • cotija cheese, for garnish


  1. Place red onion, garlic and red peppers on a sheet tray. Roast under broiler until very black.
  2. Meanwhile, heat chicken broth and fire roasted tomatoes in a large pot with chipotle peppers and a quarter cup of adobo sauce (from canned chipotles).
  3. Once liquid is gently simmering, add charred onion, garlic and peppers to the pot and simmer for 30 minutes longer.
  4. While pot is simmering, slice tortillas into thin strips and place 2/3 of the strips onto a tray to toast under the broiler until golden brown.
  5. Break the remaining tortillas into small pieces and add to your hot soup mixture. Blend (carefully) with an immersion blender until smooth.
  6. To serve the soup, ladle about a cup of the blended liquid into a bowl. Top with shredded chicken, sliced avocado, crumbled cotija, chopped cilantro, tortilla strips and a squeeze of lime juice.