Chicken Tortilla Soup

When we moved to Mexico 9 years ago, a couple who are our good friends also moved at the same time, within the same week. We didn’t really plan it together, it just sort of ended up happening that way.  It was so comforting dealing with a new way of life with someone else at the same time, struggling with the language, discovering new taco places, and the list goes on.

My husband moved out when he was 15 from the Halifax area to the Annapolis valley in Nova Scotia.  He moved in with a family who already had 7 children and lived with them and worked on their potato farm.  The became his extended family and still are.  There are five boys and two girls, and the wife of this couple was the 3rd child in the line of siblings. Needless to say, a girl with five brothers has to be a little tough.

Visiting their home the first few times was a real eye opener.  I had never see people be so territorial over food.  Of course, I had nobody to fight with over food so why would I.  For example, they used to get milk delivered to the home.  There was always one or two jugs of chocolate milk included.  If, by chance, the two youngest boys inhaled the chocolate milk before the rest returned home, there was hell to pay.  One of my favorite memories of this eldest daughter was that she used to get her own brand of pop (soda) so that she could drink it while doing her duties on the farm.  She stashed it in her room where (she presumed) nobody knew.  One day while visiting I was upstairs and heard a yell and a “WHO DRANK MY POP?”.  By the scurrying of the feet you heard, you could figure out which one of her younger brothers it was.  And scurry they did, for they knew what they had done.  Going into your older sister’s room and stealing her stashed beverage of choice?  Not a good idea if you want to live past tomorrow.

Her and her husband were a lot like us, ready for a new adventure, and so off we all went, ending up in the Mayan Riviera together.  One of the first words I learned in Spanish was “gatito” (kitten), as my animal loving friend was always chasing after abandoned street animals and (usually) forcing me to take them.  I’m pretty sure I ended up with at least three of such kittens from persistence.

After a few years of living here, they deserted us made another move to Antigua, Guatemala.  If you’ve never been, go.  It’s a beautiful colonial city, filled with history, culture, volcanoes, and frankly, some great, I mean great, restaurants. We loved visiting, especially the temperature, which is much cooler than here.

The first time we went to Antigua, after spending a tiring day walking and walking, we came home to supper already made.  My girlfriend prefaced the meal saying it’s nothing exciting just soup hope it’s okay………and all of a sudden the table was full of cheese and avocado and cilantro and tortilla strips, which were all tossed into the bowl and man, did that soup fill my belly.  I may have had two bowls. Okay maybe three.  Who’s counting?

When I asked her for the recipe I’m pretty sure she replied “it’s stupid easy” to which I thought even better!  You can make it in the morning and leave it in a slow cooker, or literally take 15 minutes to make it when you get home.  If you can’t buy tortilla strips where you are, it’s easy to make your own.  Buy some corn tortillas, cut them into strips, and fry them in some vegetable oil until crispy.  But here in Mexico, a massive bag of them costs $1 so I tend to get lazy.  Or just buy a bag of chips and crush them up a little.

Try it, because after all, it’s ‘stupid easy’.


  • 1 3/4 cups water (or use chicken broth)
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into smallish pieces
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup chunky salsa


  • shredded Monterrey Jack cheese w/jalapeno peppers
  • broken, baked, or fried corn tortilla chips
  • sour cream
  • cilantro


In a medium sized pot, combine water, broth, chicken, chili powder, and cumin.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer, covered 8 minutes.  Add corn, simmer uncovered 5 minutes more.  Stir in salsa and beans, heat through.

To serve, top with toppings of your choice.


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