Chicken Tortilla Bisque

Mexican food is tasty. That’s just the truth.   Slow cooked meats, crunchy fried tortilla chips, and spicy, intricate flavors…how do you not love that stuff?! Tortilla soup is one of my favorite Mexican dishes, and it’s really easy to make at home. Since you puree everything, there is no need to cut anything into tiny, perfect dices, and the whole soup can be prepared in less than an  hour. Feel free to substitute dried/frozen/canned herbs and peppers here. This is one place where fresh vs. canned doesn’t make a huge difference.This is a twist on classic tortilla soup, which is mostly chicken broth. This soup uses a lot of tomato puree to make a thick, opaque bisque that is hearty enough to enjoy as a meal.

Chicken Tortilla Bisque


4 cups chicken stock/broth

28 oz. tomato puree or canned peeled tomatoes

1 onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, sliced

3 serrano peppers, sliced

1 chipotle in adobo + 1 Tbs. adobo sauce

1 tbsp. each cumin and oregano

1/2 cup cilantro leaves (or 1/4 cup dried cilantro)

juice of 2 limes

15 tortilla chips

2 pieces skinless chicken (or pre cooked chicken, shredded or chopped)

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Garnishes – sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced avocado, hot sauce

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a stockpot, and when it is hot, add the onions, garlic, and chopped serrano peppers. Let them saute for about 15 minutes on medium heat, or until the onions are soft the vegetables become fragrant.

2. Add the cumin and oregano.

3. Add the chipotle and the adobo sauce. Let everything cook together for about 3 minutes.

4. Add the chicken stock and the tomato puree.

5. Put your chicken in the broth to poach. The trick to poaching is to not let the liquid come to a rolling boil – just let it simmer with small bubbles the whole time. This lets the chicken poach gently and stay incredibly juicy and tender. Two bone in thighs should take about 20 minutes to poach, boneless chicken breasts should take about 12 minutes, depending on how big they are. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken if you don’t know when it is cooked. If you are using precooked chicken, allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes, skip to step 7.

6. When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot and cut or shred it into bite size pieces.

7. Add the tortilla chips to your soup. This is why you don’t need salt – the chips are salty enough to season the soup.

8. Add the cilantro.

When the chips are soft, after just a few minutes…

9. Puree with a stick blender or in a food processor until smooth.

10. Add the chicken back into the soup, and taste for seasonings. If you need more heat, now is the time to add more adobo sauce (smoky warmth) or habanero hot sauce (fiery heat). Also, add the lime juice.

11.  Serve.

This is much heartier than your standard tortilla soup. Using the tomato puree makes it thick and lush, and pureeing so many tortilla chips into it adds body the way that papa al pomodoro benefits from bread. It is layered with flavor – the smoky chipotles, the earthy cumin, and that fresh, tart lime juice that brightens and sharpens all the deep, savory flavors soup. I like to eat this with a spoonful of cool sour cream, some buttery avocado, and a hearty dose of sharp cheddar cheese. Though this might not be traditional, it is certainly a delicious homage to all foods Mexican.


  1. That looks awesome. Without the avocado, of course.