This 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 Azteca?
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 crunchy tortillas, which gives an amazing texture and flavor to this simple soup.
In Mexico, you will find that this hearty and delicious sopa de tortilla is served in the most humble restaurant as in a luxury one.
What is made of?
The dish consists of a flavored chicken broth made with tomatoes, epazote, and chilies. The type of chiles used for sopa de tortilla vary from state to state, but the most commons are chile chipotle, pasilla, or ancho.
The soup is then served with a variety of toppings that again, can vary depending on where its served. The most commons 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 vegetarian version is one of the most common variation of this soup. Is made by leaving the shredded chicken out and flavoring the broth with vegetables and mushrooms.
- In the State of Mexico, epazote (fresh or dried) 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 on it.
- Chicken: Shredded chicken is the most common topping for this soup. Normally using leftovers from other preparations, such as caldo de pollo.
- Totopos: Totopos are homemade fried corn chips, normally are cut into strips and then fried. Healthier versions will bake the chips instead of frying them.
- Cheese: Queso panela, queso fresco, and queso ranchero 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 chilies adds not only texture but also good flavor. Other types of dried chilies used are ancho, or chipotle.
- Others: Sliced or cubed avocados, a squeeze of lime, chopped onions, chilies, and cilantro are also some of the most common toppings for Sopa Azteca.
For the broth
The rich, hearty broth is the star of this recipe. Simple ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, and chipotle peppers can yield a delicious flavor on their own.
But you can make it even richer by adding epazote (fresh or dried), chicken stock, oregano, and a pinch of cumin.
How To Make Sopa de Tortilla
Cook the chicken:
Place the chicken breasts in a stockpot and add the vegetables you want (carrots, onion, celery, etc). Add garlic and salt and cover with water about 1-inch.
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.
Make the soup
Place tomatoes, onion, garlic, 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-low 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 of 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 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.
Serve & Garnish
Divide first the tortilla chips between serving bowls, then add shredded chicken on top.
Ladle generously the tomato broth into the bowls. Don’t forget to bring the leftover broth to the table, so people can add more to their sopa de tortilla if they want.
Garnish with cheese, cream, avocado, and fried strips of guajillo peppers. Then add to your sopa de tortilla a good squeeze of lime before eating.
Most Asked Questions
Is this soup 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.
What can I use instead of guajillo chilies?
You can use Anaheim or Hatch dried chilies, or you can also replace them with powdered chilies that are 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.
How to store
Sopa de tortilla stores wonderfully (minus the toppings). Place the broth in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months. The shredded chicken can be stored separately in freezer bags too.
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 3 tortillas for each serving.
Watch How To Make Sopa Azteca
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)
- 6 corn tortillas (cut into trips)
For the chicken
- 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)
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)
- vegetable oil (as needed)
- 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 water about 1.5-inch.
- 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, fry tortilla strips until golden and crispy. Place them on a paper-lined plate.
- Remove the excess of oil from the pot leaving only about 2-3 tablespoons.
- Fry the guajillo strips for a couple of seconds. Remove and place in 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.