Nov 14, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup (With THM Modifications)

Several months ago I had the opportunity to eat at The Cheesecake Factory and ordered their tortilla soup.  As soon as I tasted it I knew it would be something that I'd have to recreate somehow, and so I spent quite a bit of time analyzing the ingredients as I ate.  It took me several tries to get the soup just right, but here's my sort-of kind-of copycat recipe.

A few notes:  the soup at The Cheesecake Factory contained a good amount of rice.  After making this soup several times with the rice, I've decided that I prefer it without and omitted it in favor of extra beans.  If you like rice or want this to be a more accurate copycat recipe, feel free to add it back in.  I would highly recommend making it separately from the soup and combining them in your bowl, since the rice does tend to get overly soft and soggy-ish if it sits in the soup too long.  This is especially true if you make the soup ahead of time or have leftovers.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

serves 4
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1/2 onion
  • oil, about 1 Tbsp
  • 1 (10oz) can rotel
  • 1 (10oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 1-2 cups water (or chicken stock, if you cook the chicken in water)
  • 1 (scant) Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, partially drained
  • 3 Tbsp flour or masa harina
  • 1/2 cup milk or half & half
  • Toppings: grated cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro, sour cream, avocado - as desired


Start by cooking your chicken.  I've found that one chicken breast is generally enough meat, but if you like extra protein you can feel free to use two.  I like to poach the chicken, but you can cook it any way you like. After that's done, set it aside.

Chop up half of an onion.

In a medium-large pot, drizzle a little puddle of oil.

Throw in your onion.  Saute until onion caramelizes, stirring occasionally.

While the onion is cooking, pour a can of Rotel (or the store brand equivalent) into a blender or food processor.  Blend until fairly smooth.

Pour the Rotel into the pan with the onions, along with a can of enchilada sauce.

I'm going to pause for a minute to comment about these two ingredients.  They provide the flavor for the base of the soup, and the level of heat in the soup depends on them almost completely.  I generally use mild or medium enchilada sauce with original or mild Rotel, and this combination is very flavorful but still fairly mellow.  If you really like heat, you could use hot enchilada sauce, hot rotel, or even add some chili powder to the mix.

Anyway.  Back to the soup.

Plop a scant tablespoon of brown sugar in with the sauce mixture. (This is to combat the acidic undertones.)

Now, add a can of black beans... (you can substitute another type of bean if you want)

...chop up the chicken you cooked before and add it to the soup.

Bring the soup to a boil.  In the meantime, whisk together three tablespoons flour (or masa harina) and a third cup milk or half & half. 

Spoon a bit of the hot soup into the flour mixture to make sure it isn't too thick, then pour the flour mixture into the soup and stir until everything is nice and smooth.  Add any extra seasonings you might want and let soup simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Serve and top with crushed tortilla chips, cheese, cilantro, and whatever else sounds delicious.


Price Breakdown:

Price estimates are based on Walmart prices
Chicken (based on $1.20/lb, 1/2 lb breast) = 50¢
Onion (very rough estimate) = 25¢
Oil (rough estimate) = 5¢ 
(Store-brand equivalent of) Rotel = 68¢
Enchilada sauce = 68¢
Brown sugar = 2¢
Black beans = 68¢
Flour = 2¢
Half & Half = 20¢
Toppings = prices vary depending on toppings and amount used.

Price for entire recipe = $3.08 + toppings
Price per person =  $0.77 + toppings


To make this soup THM (E), replace the brown sugar with stevia, truvia, or another plan approved sweetener (to taste), use skim or almond milk instead of whole milk or half and half, and top with a small amount of mozzarella cheese. The small amount of oil in the soup should be fine, but omit any toppings with fat in them unless you want a crossover meal.

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