Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup with Tequila Crema

I am highly (highly!) delinquent on this post — craziness with work plus a fun trip to the Grand Canyon interfered. I hate it when life gets in the way of my cooking! However, I redeem myself with this incredible recipe for chicken tortilla soup. This is a Guy Fieri and it’s super spicy but also really tangy, with some smoky flavor from the grilled chicken and an amazing, crunchy topper of homemade tortilla strips dusted with chili powder. Oh yes.

Starting with the chicken — it’s marinated in a yummy combo of lime juice, tequila, adobo sauce, garlic and spices — it packs a punch. Note that you have to take the skin off the chicken if you don’t buy skinless — it’s relatively easy to do, but I forgot until AFTER it was in the marinade, which made the process rather messy, and not my favorite. Raw chicken is not my idea of fun. This is also not the easiest chicken to make since once it’s cooked you have to take it off the bone, but ya know what? It adds flavor, so it is what it is. If you’re not into it, try boneless skinless thighs and just shred the chicken.

The soup itself is flavored with jalapeno pepper, onion, chili powder and cumin — simple but good. But it’s the toppings that really make this a winner…starting with sliced avocado, which will sell me on basically anything, and followed by tequila crema — sour cream spiked with tequila and lime zest, which gives a nice cooling effect. Add a squeeze of lime juice directly on the soup, and a sprinkling of cilantro…and finally, homemade fried tortilla strips. I admit up front, these are not the easiest to make, and your kitchen will smell like oil for a day or so. But there’s nothing like frying your own tortillas, and these make the perfect crunch on top. This is nothing like crumbled up tortilla chips — this is the real deal.

TW’s Tips

  • The sliced tortilla Guy Fieri called for as part of the soup base was a little weird. I didn’t like it. I thought maybe it was supposed to thicken it a little, but that didn’t really work out.
  • I’d skip trying to skin the jalapeno and just mince it after you char it — peeling the skin off never quite works, but the nice flavor from searing it is excellent.
  • Remember you’ve got to marinate the chicken for 6-8 hours.
  • Serve with corn bread…or corn bread studded with jalapeno.

Grilled Chicken Tortilla Soup with Tequila Crema



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed


  • 1 jalapeño, roasted and minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, plus some for dust tortilla strips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups chicken stock, make sure this is stock, not broth (recommended: Kitchen Essentials)
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (recommended: Muir Glen)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 corn tortilla, cut into strips (I’d skip this)


  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and flesh diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


Put the vegetable oil, tequila, lime juice, chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Put the marinade in a plastic bag along with the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno and grill until the skin is well charred. Remove the jalapeno to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat the skin. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem, skin, and seeds, then finely mince.

Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the onion and saute until starting to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, minced jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Deglaze the pan with some of the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining chicken stock, the crushed tomatoes and the lime juice. Add the tortilla strips and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

While soup base is simmering, heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and put on grill. Grill, turning until cooked through, about 14 to 18 minutes. Remove from the grill, to a large plate and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred. Keep warm.

For serving:

Heat the vegetable oil in a tall sided skillet to 350 degrees F. Add the tortilla strips and fry until they are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of chili powder.

Combine the sour cream, 2 tablespoons tequila, and the remaining lime zest in a small bowl and season with salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

To serve, put some of the shredded chicken in the bottom of each bowl and pour in the hot soup base. Top with diced avocado, fried tortilla strips, the tequila crema, and cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.


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