Hi. My name is Kristin and I can’t stop making restaurant-inspired soups. There, I said it!

Sorry, but similar to finding the perfect pair of jeans (finally tried Madewell and wasn’t that impressed,) the perfect Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe can be hard to find.

I just can’t get down with the thin, super-brothy styles that are a little too heavy on the lime flavor, know what I mean? When it comes to Chicken Tortilla Soup, I need a thick, stick to yar ribs type dish that’s spiced with the bold flavors of the southwest and piled high with a plethora of crisp, yummy toppings.

You know who does it right? Chili’s. Yeah, me and Chili’s go way back to high school when I used to frequent the southwestern-inspired chain on an alarmingly frequent basis for big, piping-hot bowls of their Chicken Tortilla Soup with my friends. Each spoonful was just spicy enough, and packed with tiny tri-color tortilla chip strips that I just couldn’t get enough of.

Always looking to cure my soup cravings at home, I whipped up a big batch of thick, bold, and satisfying Restaurant-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup to enjoy this week – the first of the season with highs tapping out in the 60s!

Topped with crushed tortilla chips, fresh pico de gallo, and chopped avocado, a bowl of this Restaurant-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup is a meal in itself and, like any good soup, just gets better and better as it sits in the fridge.

Start by adding 2 large chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces and 1 small chopped onion to 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil in a big soup pot over medium heat.

Next sprinkle in 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (here’s my recipe,) 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 Tablespoon paprika. Not only will these spices give the soup incredible flavor, but they’ll also give it that signature, deep-orange color. Mmm!

Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

Next add in even more southwest spices: 1/2 teaspoon each chili powder and cumin, and just a dash (or two!) of cayenne pepper. I added about 1/4 teaspoon and the soup ended up being about a 6/10 on the spice scale for me.

Saute the spices with the chicken and onion for 1 minute, then add in the rest of the goodies: 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, pepper (to taste), 1 can rinsed & drained pinto beans, juice of 1/2 lime, and 3-1/2 cups chicken broth.

Simmer the soup for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the soup is bubbling away, make a batch of fresh pico de gallo to dollop on top of the finished soup, and chop up 1 avocado. Also stir together 2 Tablespoons gluten-free masa (could use gluten-free all-purpose flour) with 1/2 cup chicken broth in a small bowl. As always, check the labels on store-bought products like masa and chicken broth to ensure they are gluten-free!

The masa will thicken the soup and give it a wonderfully luxurious texture. Don’t panic if you don’t have any on hand – the soup will still be slightly thick and delicious nonetheless! Now, when the soup has simmered for 20 minutes, stir in the masa/chicken broth mixture and let it simmer for 10 more minutes.

Aaaand, we are done here!

Ladle the soup into bowls, then top with lots of crushed tortilla chips, chopped avocado, and pico de gallo.

Restaurant-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup

5/5 (3 REVIEWS)


Restaurant-Style Chicken Tortilla Soup is a gluten-free, restaurant quality soup you can make at home!


serves 4

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning or 1 recipe homemade taco seasoning (see notes for recipe)
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less)
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • pepper
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 32oz gluten-free chicken broth, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free or regular masa (could use flour)
  • Toppings: pico de gallo, chopped avocado, tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, lime wedges


  1. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add chicken and onion then sprinkle in taco seasoning, paprika, and salt. Stir well then cook until chicken is cooked through and onions are tender, about 10 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper, then saute for one more minute. Add cilantro, pepper to taste, pinto beans, lime juice, and 3-1/2 cups chicken broth then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, make pico de gallo, chop avocado, and combine remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth with masa or cornmeal in a small bowl. When soup is done simmering, drizzle in chicken broth/masa mixture, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve topped with crushed tortilla chips, chopped avocado, and pico de gallo. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges, if desired.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

The flavors in here could not be more delicious. You can taste just a hint of cilantro and lime – just the way I like it – while the chili powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano give this soup an awesome kick.

Many Chicken Tortilla Soup recipes will tell you to add shredded cheddar or jack cheese on top, which I’m not arguing with – what dish couldn’t benefit from the addition of a little cheese?! – but it’s really not necessary. Perfectly yummy on its own!


What are your favorite soups to whip up as the temperatures start to cool down?

I can’t wait to make lots, and LOTS of CHILI! Saw some jalapeno cornbread at Whole Foods the other day that looked perfect to pair with!