By George, I think I’ve done it…..created a pretty darn close copycat recipe of Max & Erma’s Tortilla Soup that is! Can I get a woop woop?
For those of you not familiar with Max & Erma’s, it’s a popular Midwest restaurant chain and their tortilla soup is a cheesy, spicy, to-die-for, makes my taste buds sing (fa-la-la-la-laaaa) every time I eat it bowl of delight. I’ve been on a mission to duplicate the recipe at home. There is a great copycat recipe floating on the internet that I’ve made before called Sue’s Version of Max & Erma’s Tortilla Soup. People rave over it but I really wanted to try to make a more from-scratch version, without all the sodium-laden cream soups, that tastes just as awesome….and it took me a few attempts and tweaking but peeps, I do believe this is it! Well, as close as I can get without the super secret recipe. Here you go….
RECIPE: Retro Dinner Diva’s Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Servings: Approximately 8 (can easily be halved)
- Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 Tbs veg oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced (optional, gives it a nice kick)
1 anaheim pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
4 Tbs cornstarch
8 cups chicken broth (I used Pacific brand Organic Free-Range Chicken, Low Sodium)
6 corn tortillas
1/2 cup diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, petite diced, Rotel w/green chiles…whatever floats your boat)
1 cup of cooked chicken breast, shredded in very small pieces (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken)
4 Tbs lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne (add more if desired, I used 1 tsp and thought it was great but I like spicy)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt (can add more to taste, especially if using low sodium chicken broth)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
1-2 Tbs heavy whipping cream (optional)
1. Heat oil in stockpot, medium heat. Saute onion, peppers, and garlic approximately 10 minutes until softened and onions translucent.
2. Whisk together cornstarch and chicken broth in a large bowl and add to stock pot. Tear corn tortillas in pieces and add to soup mixture.
3. I then blended all the ingredients until smooth using a hand held stick blender. If you don’t have one, you can transfer to a blender to puree everything and then pour back in stock pot.
4. Add diced tomatoes. I then blended them up real quick into smaller flecks of tomato because Max & Erma’s soup doesn’t have tomato chunks. However, you can skip this step and just leave the tomatoes diced if you want (I would suggest using petite diced tomatoes though).
5. Add in chicken, lime juice, and all the spices. Simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes, then slowly add in the cheddar and monterey jack cheese until melted. A few notes: you can add more chicken to your desired amount but again, I just was trying to keep it similar to Max & Erma’s which has just little hints of chicken pieces. Also, make sure the soup is on low heat when you add the cheese. If it’s too hot, it can cause the cheese to “break” and make it a little gritty (if this happens, don’t worry, it still tastes good). Just add slowly and keep stirring until smooth.
6. Add in 1-2 T of heavy whipping cream (optional) if you want to make it a little creamier. You can then increase the heat a little if you want and it’s ready to serve!
7. Ladle into bowls and top with more cheese if desired and fried tortilla strips (slice corn tortillas into thin strips and saute in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat until browned).
I hope you like it!