Sopa de tortilla, also known as Sopa Azteca is a hearty and comforting Mexican dish featuring a delicious tomato and chipotle broth served with tortilla chips, shredded chicken, cheese, cream, and avocado.
What is Sopa de Tortilla?
Sopa de tortilla (or sopa Azteca) is a popular and traditional recipe from central Mexico, most specifically from the Tlaxcala state. The dish is consumed in many homes and can be found at almost every restaurant in the country.
The name is translated in English to tortilla soup and is because one of the main ingredients is corn tortillas, which gives an amazing texture and flavor to this hearty soup.
Sopa Azteca recipe consists of a flavored chicken broth made with tomatoes, epazote, and chilies. The type of chiles used for this soup varies from state to state, but the most commons are chile chipotle, pasilla chiles, or chile ancho.
The soup is then served with a variety of toppings that again, can vary depending on where its served. The most common are shredded chicken, tortilla chips, cheese, and cream.
In many places, only the broth is served smoky hot in bowls, then the tortilla chips and all the garnish are brought separately so that the diner can fix the soup to their liking.
The rich, hearty broth is the star of this tortilla soup recipe. You will start with a base of chicken broth made of chicken breasts and vegetables (carrots, onions, potatoes, etc).
Then you will need also some more ingredients to make the tomato broth, such as chicken stock, tomatoes, onions, spices, and chiles.
Finally, you will need some toppings, such as:
- Chicken: Shredded chicken is the most common topping for this soup. Normally using leftovers from other preparations, like caldo de pollo.
- Totopos: You can buy them or make your own with our totopos recipe.
- Cheese: Queso panela, queso fresco, and queso de rancho are the most common options. But also Oaxaca, or Cotija are sometimes used.
- Cream: Mexican crema has a particular flavor, use sour cream if Mexican crema is not available for you.
- Chilies: Fried pasilla chiles add not only texture but also a smoky flavor. Other types of dried chilies used are ancho, or chipotle.
How To Make Sopa de Tortilla Recipe
Place the chicken breasts in a stockpot and add the vegetables you want (carrots, onion, celery, etc). Add garlic and salt and cover with about 1-inch water.
Simmer until the chicken is cooked through (about 30 minutes). You can also cook your chicken in an Instant Pot or a Crockpot if it’s easier for you.
Remove chicken from the pot and place in a bowl or plate, then shred it with two forks while is still hot (it will be easier).
Drain the chicken stock and set it aside.
Place tomatoes, onion, garlic cloves, and chipotle in adobo peppers in a blender. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and blend until smooth. You can either strain the sauce or use it as it is.
In a medium stockpot, heat about 1/3 cup of oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add tortillas and fry until golden and crispy.
Place them on a paper-lined plate until needed.
Once finish, remove the excess oil leaving only about 2-3 tablespoons.
Add the strips of guajillo pepper and quickly fry them for a couple of seconds. Remove and set aside.
Pour in the tomato sauce. Season with cumin, oregano, and pepper. Mix to combine and simmer for 1 minute.
Add 4 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Adjust salt to taste and turn off the heat.
Divide first the tortilla chips between serving bowls, then add shredded chicken on top.
Ladle generously the tomato soup into the bowls making sure the tortilla chips are nicely immersed into the rich broth.
Garnish with cheese, cream, avocado, and fried strips of guajillo peppers. Then before eating, add a good squeeze of lime.
Don’t forget to bring the leftover tomato broth to the table, so people can add more if they want.
Useful Recipe Notes
- When frying the strips of guajillo peppers, make sure the oil is not smoky hot or they will burn and get an unpleasant flavor.
- You can also roast the tomatoes and onions for a depth of flavor in this Sopa Azteca.
- Avoid soggy tortilla soup by serving and eating immediately. The crunchy texture of tortilla soup is some of the reasons why people love this recipe.
- You can use any chicken leftovers to make this recipe. Rotisserie chicken, or boiled chicken. Also, turkey leftovers are a nice option to use.
- If you like spicy food, blend one or two chile de arbol with tomatoes, or add some chili powder to the broth.
- The vegetarian version is one of the most common variations of this tortilla soup. Is made by leaving the shredded chicken out and flavoring the broth with vegetables and mushrooms.
- In the State of Mexico, fresh epazote is commonly used to give flavor to the broth.
- In Puebla, some homemade versions can include, longaniza or chorizo, bacon, and string cheese.
- In Michoacan, there’s a similar soup called “sopa tarasca” which is made with the same tomato broth but has also beans blended into it.
- Sliced or cubed avocados, a squeeze of lime, chopped onions, chilies, and cilantro are also some of the most common toppings for Sopa Azteca.
How To Store And Reheat
Sopa Azteca is the perfect prep meal and it stores wonderfully, here are our suggestions:
- Soup and chicken: Can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer.
- Tortilla chips: Last for up to a week on your countertop in an airtight container. Or you can also freeze the tortillas before frying them for up to 3 months.
- Toppings: Best if adding them fresh.
Add broth and shredded chicken to a pot and reheat on the stovetop over medium-high heat.
You can also add the soup to a microwave-safe container and heat over 1-minute intervals.
Tortilla chips can be used at room temperature, but if they lost some crispiness, you can quickly reheat them in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 390F°/200°C.
Watch The Video
Like many other hot soups in my mother’s repertoire, such as caldo de res, or sopa de albondigas, she will serve this recipe even when the weather was extremely hot. Let me tell you that this is a common practice among Mexican moms!
Sopa de Tortilla (sopa Azteca)
- 2 large chicken breasts (read notes)
- 1 of each: carrot, onion, celery stick, and potato. (or any vegetable you prefer)
- 1 garlic clove (skin on)
- salt (to taste)
- vegetable oil (as needed)
For the tomato soup
- 6 cups chicken stock (read notes)
- 1 lb tomatoes (cut into chunks)
- 1 medium onion (cut into quarters)
- 2 chipotle in adobo sauce
- 1 garlic clove (peeled)
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ Tbsp oregano
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- salt (to taste)
- 6 corn tortillas (cut into trips)
- 1 cup queso fresco (crumbled)
- ½ cup Mexican crema (or sour cream)
- 1 guajillo pepper (seeded and cut into strips)
- limes wedges
Cook the chicken:
- Place the chicken breasts in a stockpot and add the vegetables. Add garlic and salt and cover with about 1.5-inch of water.
- Boil for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken from the pot and shred it with two forks while is still hot.
- Drain the chicken stock and set everything aside.
Make the soup
- Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, and chipotle in adobo peppers in a blender. Add 1 ½ cup of chicken stock and blend until smooth.
- In a medium stockpot, heat ⅓ cup of oil over medium-low heat, and fry tortilla strips until golden and crispy. Place them on a paper-lined plate.
- Remove the excess oil from the pot leaving only about 2-3 tablespoons.
- Fry the guajillo strips for a couple of seconds. Remove and place on a paper-lined plate until needed.
- Pour the tomato sauce into the pot. Season with cumin, oregano, and pepper. Cook 1 minute.
- Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat. Adjust salt to taste and turn off the heat.
Serve & Garnish
- Divide first the tortilla chips between serving bowls, then add shredded chicken on top.
- Ladle generously the tomato broth into the bowls.
- Garnish with cheese, cream, and fried strips of guajillo peppers. Then serve with a squeeze of lime.
- You can use chicken rotisserie leftovers too. 3 cups of shredded chicken should be enough for this recipe.
Did you enjoy this Sopa de Tortilla recipe? Please don’t forget to rate it and comment below.
Is Sopa Azteca spicy?
There’s some heat in the soup for sure but is moderate and if you like spicy food, you might want to add even more than the recipe calls for.
What can I use instead of guajillo chilies?
You can use Anaheim or Hatch dried chilies, or you can also replace them with smoky paprika which is easily available worldwide.
Can I make this recipe healthier?
Yes! Bake your tortilla chips instead of frying, and use less oil than the recipe calls. You can also leave out the cream.
Can be served as a main meal?
Yes! Sopa Azteca can be served as a whole main meal in large portions. I recommend using about 1 chicken breast for every 2-3 persons and 2 tortillas for each serving.
Can I use flour tortillas instead of corn?
Is tortilla soup actually Mexican?
Yes, sopa de tortilla is from Mexico and is also very popular all over the country.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.