This spicy tortilla soup recipe is made with chicken or turkey, cilantro, onions, garlic, jalapeños, tomatoes, spices, poultry stock, and lime juice. This soup is served topped with monterrey jack cheese or queso fresco, tortilla chips, and avocado.
Tortilla soup is usually made with chicken; however it’s very easy to also make it with turkey, and especially during the holiday season it’s a great way to use any Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. My uncle Clarence makes the best chicken tortilla soup. This is his family recipe – which I’ve slightly adapted using leftover cooked turkey or chicken.Jump to Recipe
In his original recipe, he has a regular version and a “wild stuff” version of tortilla soup. The “wild stuff” version doubles the amount of cayenne pepper and uses the jalapeños with seeds/membranes included. I’ll let you decide which version you prefer, the regular one is spicy enough to make you feel it, without bringing tears to your eyes. Also, you can always add additional lime juice to help lower the spiciness level.
I used store-bought chicken stock for this recipe, however you can also make turkey stock from the turkey bones if you want extra turkey flavor. The base for this soup is what it gives it flavor: onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapenos, spices and tomatoes.
It’s best if the tomatoes are peeled, this way you won’t end up with pieces of tomato skin in the soup. An easy way to peel the tomatoes for this soup – or for any other recipe where you need peeled tomatoes – is to make a cross cut on the top the tomato.
Bring a pot of water to boil, add the tomatoes to the boiling water, remove them from the hot water as soon as you see the skin start to peel off where you made the cut, and put them in cold water. Then you can easily peel the tomato skin off. Ripe tomatoes will peel very quickly, while the firmer ones might take up to a minute or two in the boiling water before they start peeling.
Must-have garnishes for tortilla soup include grated or shredded monterrey jack cheese (or queso fresco), tortilla chips, and avocado. I also like to add some additional fresh cilantro, green onions and lime.
Chicken or turkey tortilla soup
- 2 tbs oil light olive oil, peanut or sunflower oil
- 1 ½ cup diced white or yellow onion
- 1 bunch of green onions finely chopped
- 1 bunch of cilantro finely chopped
- 2 jalapeños seeds removed (or not if you want the wild stuff version), diced
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper double for wild stuff version
- 1 tsp sugar
- 6 roma tomatoes peeled and diced, about 2 cups
- 2 cups of turkey or chicken stock
- 2 cups of tomato juice
- 4 cups of shredded cooked turkey or chicken
- Juice from1 to 2 limes about 1/4 to ½ cup- adjust to taste or just serve with lime on the side
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated monterrey jack cheese or queso fresco tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, green onions and lime slices
- Heat the oil in large pot, add the onions, green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, crushed garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Add the turkey or chicken stock, tomato juice and shredded turkey. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the lime juice and remove from the heat.
- Serve garnished with the grated cheese, tortilla chips, avocado, cilantro, green onions and lime slices.