El Torito’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

El Torito’s soup pays homage to the classic version of chicken tortilla soup while giving it a major lift. Enjoy flavors of fresh vegetables, tender chicken, spices, and refreshing herbs in a rich chicken broth base. This soup offers the perfect balance of lightness and heartiness.

Copycat El Torito's chicken tortilla soup in two bowls.

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El Torito copycat chicken tortilla soup recipe

Chicken tortilla soup is believed to have originated in Mexico City. It initially had a simple composition, and as it traveled north, it changed slightly.

In California, tomatoes and beans were added. The use of tomato puree or paste also became common. However, El Torito’s chicken tortilla soup is unique in its own way. It is packed full of white chicken meat and fresh vegetables.

If you are lucky to live in the Los Angeles area, you may be familiar with the El Torito restaurants. It’s difficult not to adore this restaurant with its exceptional cuisine, especially this incredible soup.

What makes the El Torito Copycat Chicken Tortilla soup so good?

Many chicken tortilla soups are rather bland and have little in them. This soup is perfect because it has fresh zucchini, squash, carrots, potatoes, and more.

I love that this soup is really packed full of fresh vegetables. It also has fresh cilantro and fresh mint to give brightness to the soup. It’s surely an upgraded rendition of classic chicken tortilla soup, and you’re missing out on an indulgent experience if you don’t try it.

Why you’ll love this recipe

With this copycat El Torito chicken tortilla soup recipe, you can make a restaurant-quality soup and take pride in your cooking! Don’t let the ingredient list intimidate you. Although it looks overwhelming, the cooking process is simple because you can follow the easy instructions below.

You’ll also love how this makes eight servings. It is enough to feed a large family or bring to a small potluck. Another option is to make a big pot of it and then freeze it for later, saving it for a rainy day when you don’t necessarily feel like stepping foot in the kitchen.

With hearty chicken and an array of nutritious vegetables, you can enjoy a nourishing meal, all within 40 minutes of when you start it. Customize it to make it your own by adding unique toppings, further developing its flavor and giving it textural contrast.

El Torito Tortilla Soup recipe ingredients

This soup is loaded with chicken, vegetables, and Mexican spices. While the list of what you need looks extensive, you’ll know it’s worth it once you have a taste of this incredible soup.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Chicken broth
  • Red onion
  • Carrots
  • Potato
  • Tomato paste
  • Bay leaf
  • Fresh garlic
  • Chipotle chili in adobo
  • Pickled jalapenos
  • Dried Mexican oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow summer squash
  • Red bell pepper
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Sweet Sherry
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh mint
  • Corn tortillas
  • Oil for frying
  • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • Avocado
Copycat El Tortio's chicken tortilla soup ingredients on a tray.

How to Make El Torito Chicken Tortilla Soup

  1. Poach the chicken breast in simmering chicken broth until done. Shred the chicken once it is cool enough to handle.
  2. Combine chicken broth, shredded chicken, red onion, carrots, potato, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, chipotle and jalapeno chilies, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large pot or saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add zucchini, squash, pepper, lime juice, and sherry. Bring again to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Add cilantro and mint. Stir and remove the soup from the heat.
Collage of making El Tortio's chicken tortilla soup.
  1. Cut the tortillas into strips.
  2. Fry tortilla strips in hot oil until crisp.
  3. Drain the fried tortilla strips on paper towels.
  4. Ladle hot soup into warm soup bowls and top with shredded cheese and tortilla strips. Garnish with an avocado slice and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Collage of making fried tortilla strips and garnishing soup with them.

Toppings for Chicken Tortilla Soup

For me, soups that have a Tex-Mex or inspiration from Mexico means that you have a variety of options for toppings. Here are some of my favorite toppings.

  • Crispy corn tortilla strips
  • Avocado slices
  • Lime wedges or slices
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tabasco chipotle sauce
Two bowls of copycat El Tortio's chicken tortilla soup.

What to serve with El Tortio chicken tortilla soup

You can enjoy this soup as a side dish or main course, depending on how you serve it. If you want to replicate the experience of eating at El Torito, try serving this soup with Mexican Caesar salad, fajita salad, or crispy flautas.

Other delicious accompaniments include chips and creamy avocado dip, quesadillas, cilantro rice, or Mexican cornbread.

How to store the leftovers

Lucky for you, you can either refrigerate or freeze this soup to extend its shelf life if you can’t eat it all at once! When stored in the refrigerator, the soup lasts 3-5 days. In the freezer, it lasts for 2-4 months.

With either method, allow it to cool first. Then, transfer it to a container with an airtight lid. You can also use soup freezing trays if you want to freeze the soup into small portions to make it easier on yourself later. 

What is the best way to reheat this soup?

If you have the time, reheating the soup by bringing it to a gentle simmer is best because the flavors taste so fresh.
However, you can always quickly heat it in the microwave if you need to. Just make sure to cover it and stir it every 30-45 seconds so it heats evenly.

Copycat Tortilla Soup Recipe FAQs

What is the difference between pozole and tortilla soup?

There are several differences between pozole and tortilla soup. Pozole is more of a stew and made with pork. Pozole is garnished with thinly sliced cabbage. Pozole soup contains hominy. Chicken tortilla soup is a thinner soup made with chicken, and it is topped with crispy tortilla chips, cheese, and sometimes sour cream.

Why is it called tortilla soup?

This soup is made with a rich and delicious chicken broth and vegetables. This may have been served to use up tortillas past their prime. This soup lends itself to being topped with crispy tortilla strips.

Is tortilla soup actually Mexican?

Absolutely, this soup has origins in the state of Tlaxcala. This area is known for being where corn is grown. This state is known for its corn tortillas. This soup also comes from this state in Mexico.

Copycat El Tortio's chicken tortilla soup in two bowls and two spoons.

Love homemade soup? Try these recipes!

Favorite Mexican Recipes

Check out more of my easy soup recipes and the best Mexican food recipes here on CopyKat!

El Torito’s Chicken Tortilla Soup is from El Torito Mexican restaurant, Los Angeles, CA. Source Los Angeles Times 12-26-96.

Copycat El Torito's chicken tortilla soup in two bowls.

El Torito’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Make chicken tortilla soup like El Torito at home with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 10 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: El Torito’s Tortilla Soup, Tortilla Soup
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 321kcal


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potato
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle peppers in adobo sauce pureed
  • 1 teaspoon pickled jalapeño seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound diced zucchini
  • 1 pound diced yellow squash
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons sweet sherry preferably Harvey’s Bristol Cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoon chopped cilantro divided use
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 6-inch soft corn tortillas cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 pound shredded Jack cheese
  • 1 avocado sliced


  • Poach the chicken breast in simmering chicken broth until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken from the broth (reserve the broth) and set aside to cool slightly. When it is cool enough to handle, shred the poached chicken breast.
  • In a large saucepan over high heat, combine the reserved chicken broth, shredded chicken, red onion, carrots, potato, tomato paste, bay leaf, garlic, chipotle and jalapeño peppers, oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  • Add the zucchini, squash, red bell pepper, lime juice, and sherry. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the mint and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Stir and remove from the heat.
  • Pour vegetable oil into a small pot until it reaches a dept of 1/2 inch. Fry the tortilla strips in hot oil until crisp. Drain the fried tortilla strips on paper towels and set aside.
  • Ladle the soup into each bowl. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and tortilla strips. Garnish each bowl with avocado slices and the remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.


Calories: 321kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1622mg | Potassium: 1246mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3615IU | Vitamin C: 66.1mg | Calcium: 294mg | Iron: 3.2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Janet Nagel

    5 stars
    Yum! I’ve been trying different tortilla soup recipes and had not found “the one” yet. The El Torito name caught my eye because I used to love to eat at their restaurants when I lived out there. This recipe is “the one”! So many good vegetables and good flavors, with plenty of broth. I like the seasonings and I love the lime in it. I am so happy to have found this recipe! Thanks.!

  2. Janet Nagel

    Anything non-alcoholic that can be substituted for the sherry/Harvey’s Bristol cream? Can’t have the alcohol due to health issues. Thanks.

  3. Kevin Lingor

    try this for cool weather meal – substitute maggi Caldo Sabor Pollo for broth, omit mint.
    must include cumin, chipolte en adobo, lime juice, cilantro. use all of whole roast chickens at the grocer. do not leave out zuchini/squash must add

  4. Arlyne

    This soup is amazing!! I’ve never had the one at ‘el torito’..and I was trying to find the one at ‘el torito grill’..it tastes so similar. Has a hint of lime and the ingredients are delicious!! I used about half of everything on this recipe to make a smaller serving and it was still enough to feed five adults!! It’s become a family favorite..love love love it!!

  5. heather

    5 stars
    This is THE BEST tortilla soup recipe I have ever tried. Don’t be tempted to subtitute pre-made tortilla chips in the place of fried tortilla strips, you’d be selling the dish short 🙂 AMAZING recipe, a family and co-worker favorite. Thanks!

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