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Yucatan Tortilla Soup

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
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Why we love it:

I love tortilla soup! This is a version I make in a pinch, when I can't get to the Mexican market for dried chilies but I still want the feeling of them. So, we turn to chili powder! There's a wide range of flavor and quality from chili powder, but I'll bet even if you use the worst kind out there, the other ingredients in the soup will lift this up into a family favorite.


  • 4 Corn Tortillas (4” or 6” are ok)
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (divided)
  • 1 Yellow Onion (divided)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 15-ounce can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 bunch Cilantro
  • 3 Tablespoons Chili Powder (if you have a good quality one, or ancho chili powder definitely use it here)
  • 4 cups Stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 cups Water
  • 8 ounces Queso Fresco
  • 1 Avocado (maybe 2...check your audience)
  • 2 Limes
  • 1 bunch Radish (optional)

Cooking Instructions


    Slice the tortillas in strips about ½” wide and between 2” and 3” long.

    In a large heavy pot, heat ½ of the oil over medium-high heat. Add ½ the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1-2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips, adding a little more oil if needed.

  • 2. ONIONS

    Dice the onion into small cubes, and when the tortillas are finished, add ½ of them to sauté.

  • 3. BLENDER

    In a blender, add the other ½ of the diced onion, the garlic, the can of tomatoes, and the ground cumin. Chop the stems off of the entire bunch of cilantro, where it meets most of the fresh leaves. Add the stems to the blender and save the leaves for garnish. If using chiles, slice off the tops and empty out the seeds, then tear them up into the blender (if using chili powder simply add it here). Add a cup or so of the chicken stock and blend very well to puree.

  • 4. SIMMER

    Add the blended ingredients into the pot with the onions. Add the rest of the stock and the water and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the remaining salt to taste.


    Dice the cheese into cubes. Slice the avocado. Slice one lime in half and the rest in wedges. Add these ingredients to a plate or small bowls per person. Garnish with the tortilla strips and cilantro leaves too.

    Slice the radishes into thick rounds. If you bought a bunch that has fresh greens, you can wash them and slice them as you would basil. Add the radish greens into the soup about 2 minutes before serving to just wilt them.

  • 6. SERVING

    Squeeze the halved lime into the stoup and stir. Ladle into large bowls and garnish like crazy!

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    double check your tortillas are 100% corn and you’re set
    omit the cheese
    look for a sliceable sheep or goat’s cheese that’s still soft enough to warm through
    finishing the soup with shrimp or cubes of cod would make a nice addition, poach the fish in the broth at the end, and keep the heat low so it’s barely simmering
    if you don’t want to buy them or can’t easily find dried ancho or pasilla chilies, use chili powder. Add 2 Tablespoons to the blender. Do look for a high quality brand and hopefully, it hasn’t been sitting in the back our your cupboard for a year, as it will lose flavor
    crisping up your own strips really makes a difference for a simple soup. Plus, some of the corn flour remains in the pan and helps thicken things up. However, you can certainly skip this step and just add chips
    if you can’t find it, feta is a decent substitute. Soft tofu would work too. Or, even cubes of monterey jack, cheddar, mozzarella, would taste great
  • STOCK:
    all water will be ok
    if your kids are not into any spice whatsoever, make this with just the tomatoes and a chili powder that isn’t spicy - some have chilis and some are just smokey and mild. Or, just make the soup with the tomatoes, etc., then when you divide out the kids portion, you can season the rest with the chili powder. If they won’t do a red soup, omit the tomatoes too, and just leave this broth based. Serve the final dish with a scoop of store bought salsa for the grownups
    something crunchy is nice, very thinly sliced carrots, celery, bell pepper. Or try frozen corn kernels.
    ground chicken or turkey is nice. Leftover chicken finely shredded can be tossed in.
    you can saute shrimp and add them, or as the soup is finishing, poach the shrimp in the soup. You could also poach cubes of white fish or salmon
Rate this recipe:
2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 52 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5 (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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