Cafe Rio-Inspired Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup

Today I am confessing my undying love for chicken soup! I don’t know if it’s this time of year, or what, but lately I have been obsessed with the stuff! There is just something so magical about the steamy broth combined with tender chicken, vegetables, and whatever else your palate desires! That’s another thing I love about chicken soup, the versatility.

Classic Chicken Noodle, Chicken and Dumplings, Spicy Chicken Thai, Chicken and White (or Black) Bean, Spicy Chicken Gumbo, Asian Chicken Noodle….I could go on and on! But my favorite (or at least my CURRENT favorite!) is Chicken Tortilla Soup! A little over a year ago, a restaurant called Cafe Rio came to our small town and my obsession with this delicious soup began! :-)

Their particular version of this soup classic is so delicious that soon after the restaurant opened my youngest sister Dori (Riches To Rags By Dori) came up with her own version of it and it’s been my go-to chicken soup recipe ever since. I’ve probably made it half a dozen times already…..this month! lol. I figured it was high time I shared it with all of you!

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients

  • 4-5 small carrots, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 boxes chicken broth
  • 3 large chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • Handful of cilantro leaves
  • Pico de gallo, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado, green onions, cilantro, sour cream etc. for garnish

Directions

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In a large pot heat olive oil on medium until hot. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes.

chicken tortilla soup

Add the garlic, cumin and salt and pepper. Saute for about 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.

chicken tortilla soup

Add the chicken broth, cilantro and shredded chicken. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the soup is hot. If desires, add more cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

chicken tortilla soup

Serve hot and garnish with your choice of toppings. I love to pile mine high with fresh pico de gallo, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice! YUM!!

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If you really want to send your soup over the top try making your own tortilla strips! All you need to do is slice up corn tortillas in strips, coat them in a little olive oil, put them on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 400 degrees until they are crispy. Approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven.

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I hope you love this soup as much as I do! It really is a beautiful medley of flavors and textures all in one bowl!

What is your favorite way to make chicken soup?

A bowl of Cafe Rio's chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips and limes.

Cafe Rio-Inspired Chicken Tortilla Soup

Jill Nystul
There is just something so magical about the steamy broth combined with tender chicken, vegetables, and whatever else your palate desires! That’s another thing I love about chicken soup, the versatility.
4.09 from 45 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 178 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4-5 small carrots chopped
  • 4-5 stalks of celery chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons garlic minced
  • 4 teaspoons cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 boxes chicken broth
  • 3 large chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  • Handful of cilantro leaves
  • Pico de gallo tortilla strips, shredded cheese, avocado, green onions, cilantro, sour cream etc. for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot heat olive oil on medium until hot. Add the carrots, celery and onion. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, cumin and salt and pepper. Saute for about 8-10 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
  • Add the chicken broth, cilantro and shredded chicken. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the soup is hot. If desired, add more cumin, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot and garnish with your choice of toppings.

Notes

Cafe Rio's version of this soup classic is so delicious that soon after the restaurant opened my youngest sister Dori (Riches To Rags By Dori) came up with her own version of it and it’s been my go-to chicken soup recipe ever since!

Nutrition

Calories: 178kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 12gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 36mgSodium: 100mgPotassium: 402mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 6840IUVitamin C: 4.9mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 1.3mg

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

MORE IDEAS FROM

Food & Recipes

  • This recipe is easy to modify, especially to cut in 1/3.
    1 medium carrot
    1 rib celery
    1/3 medium onion
    1+ Tbls olive oil
    1 clove garlic (or more)
    1 1/3 tsp cumin
    1 quart box chicken broth
    1 large chicken breast
    s & p to taste

    my question is – is it a whole, double breast?

  • Dear Jillee:

    I can’t wait to try this delicious-sounding soup. Thanks for sharing it with all of us, and thank you so very much for making the recipe so printer friendly. I appreciate you and your terrific ideas! I pray that you will always be blessed with inspiration.

  • I made this soup for supper tonight, and it was yummy. I thought it needed a little something extra, so I added a can of drained, rinsed black beans and about a half cup of frozen corn kernels. I had tortillas, sour cream, avocado, shredded cheese, and pico de gallo for garnish. It was packed full of flavor. The hubby fixed himself a big bowl for lunch tomorrow. It made a dutch oven full of soup. I think it would freeze really well, so I might try that.

  • How many servings does this make? It sure seems like alot of soup.
    I will have to cut it in half as it will be for me only with leftovers.
    I cannot freeze it my freezer is too small . Not enough room.
    Thanks for the recipe. It sounds great!!!!! And I love that I can make my own tort strips! Yum!

    • Oh no! Do you mind me asking what browser you are using? It always works for me, but I occasionally hear from people who just can’t get it to work! So sorry for the hassle Marlene!

  • I remember this Cafe Rio soup from a visit to Utah a few years back—unforgettable! I’ve wanted a recipe for this ever since, as I’m a great fan of homemade soup, so you have my gratitude in this winter soup season. But, Jillee, for those of us not living the USA, could you please specify the volume of the boxes of chicken broth in this recipe? They look like US quart-size boxes (32 fluid ounces), but can you clarify please? This product isn’t available in Britain, so I’ll have to make up my own broth with chicken stock powder (cheaper no doubt). In fact, maybe in future you could state specific amounts any time things come in prepacked volumes or weights, like can sizes, package weights, etc. A great help for non-American residents, also for people who prefer not to buy ready-packed ingredients. Many thanks for your great recipes, please keep them coming … all the way to London!

      • Do you think 1 T sounds about right? Or would that be too much? I’m cooking for 18 people tonight and just trying to get it right :) Thank you so much! I made 1/3 of this recipe not too long ago but I forgot to write down how much salt i put in. :(

  • CUMIN is one of my favorite go-to spices, besides garlic powder and ginger powder. Sounds like a yummy recipe and will have to try it ………………….

  • I made this tonight and we loved it. What a wonderful flavor! I just made 1/3 of the recipe and it was perfect for my husband and I, with leftovers for one of us tomorrow.

  • Ok…I have to ask! How did you get your veggies, especially the tomatoes chopped so perfect? Did you hand chop them or is there an amazing gadget that you used? Chopping is not my forte, so I had to ask!

  • I made this today–I only had about 1/2 the amount of chicken needed (left over from yesterday’s dinner) so I made up the rest by adding black beans. It turned out incredible.

  • Your favorite soup and mine are nearly identical. The main difference is the source of the chicken and the broth, and I will say my opting opens up an an amazingly rich flavor. The trick is …… store bought rotissorie chicken!

    Just bring home a fresh, hot, roasted chicken from the grocery store. As soon as it’s cool enough to handle, debone it. Shred it the meat (I do it in my stand mixer – EASY) and then put it into a container in the fridge. You won’t need it again until the slipped is ready to serve.

    Then put EVERYTHING ELSE from the chicken into a big pot. Cover with 2-3 quuarts of water and add some chopped veggies (onion, celery, and carrots and anything you want to use to flavor the broth – these will be strained out when your broth is finished.) Let everything simmer, covered, for an hour or two, depending on how much time you have. Longer is better!

    Strain the solids from the broth and let it cool so the fat will rise to the top, and you. Then you can remove it. (I use my awesome fat-remover pitcher for this).

    Now the broth can go into the pot, to proceed with your recipe… or any other chicken soup you want to make! I sometimes make the broth the day before and put all the soup together the next morning in the crock pot. For the best tortilla soup, don’t put the meat into the soup. Heat it up separately and put it into the soup bowls and ladel the broth and veggies over it. The various optional toppings – sliced avocado, shredded Cheddar, Jack or Colby cheese, chopped cilantro – are sprinkled on top.

  • Never met a chicken soup I didn’t like.
    And to think I have a leftover chicken breast from dinner and my current pot of soup is nearly gone.
    How many oz of broth in the box? 32?

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