Tortilla Soup with Chipotle Chilli, Tomato & Avocado (Sopa Azteca)

Rick Stein's Tortilla Soup, as seen on his BBC series The Road to Mexico, makes for a light but warming supper with flavours of chilli and tomato and topped with avocado.


As a restaurateur, I know how hard it is to persuade people to go for the soup. This is because often you get a bowl of just that. If you want people to order soup, you have to make it special by adding lots of garnishes or bringing to the table in a tureen or jug and ladling it out. In Mexico, as with so many other dishes, soup is all about the bits that you add – in this case, avocado, chilli flakes, coriander and often a lick of soured cream. It’s usual to make this with pasilla chillies, but I had some made with chipotle in a back street near Cholula Market and very nice it was too. I’ve also had sopa Azteca with extra shredded meat from a cooked chicken and even crisp pieces of chicken or pork skin. I often just order the soup off the menu and find it a perfect light supper all on its own.

Serves 4


8 large ripe tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
2-3 tbsp lard
2 onions, sliced
2 tbsp Chipotles en adobo
1 tsp dried oregano
1 litr home-made chicken or vegetable stock
1 ½ tsp salt
8 turns black peppermill
220g cooked chicken, shredded (optional)
4 x 15cm corn tortillas, cut into 1cm strips
500ml corn or vegetable oil
For the garnishes:
1 ½ tsp dried chipotle chilli flakes
1 avocado, stoned, peeled, diced and tossed in lime juice
75g Lancashire or feta cheese, crumbled
100g soured cream
small handful of freshly chopped coriander

Essential kit

You will need: a liquidiser.


Heat a dry, heavy-based pan and roast the tomatoes and garlic until charred. Set them aside to cool, then peel both.

Heat the lard in a saucepan and gently cook the onions until softened but not coloured. Add the peeled garlic and cook for a further 4–5 minutes. Add the chipotles, peeled tomatoes and oregano, then the stock and cook for 10–15 minutes until everything is soft and pulpy. Liquidise until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add the shredded chicken, if using, and keep the soup warm over a low heat.

Pour the oil into a frying pan to a depth of about 2.5cm. Heat the oil and fry the tortilla strips in batches until golden and crisp. Remove the strips with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper.

Serve the soup with strips of tortilla on top and a sprinkling of chipotle flakes, diced avocado, cheese, soured cream and coriander.

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