Sopa Azteca- Costa Rican Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips, cheese, lime garnish and wooden spoon.

This Sopa Azteca soup recipe is a fun Costa Rican twist on a classic chicken tortilla soup. Combine chicken broth, shredded chicken, chipotle chiles and tomatoes for a hearty, low-calorie meal everyone will love! 

chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips, cheese, lime garnish and wooden spoon

Sopa Azteca Recipe

Ingredients: 

For the shredded chicken and broth:

  • 2 lbs chicken (I use breast meat)
  • 1TB salt
  • 1 TB chicken broth base or bullion (caldo de pollo)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp celery salt (optional)

For the soup base:

  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I use Hunt’s Fire Roasted)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper (optional)
  • 1 box chicken broth

Garnishes:

  • Tortilla chips or tortilla strips
  • Mozzarella cheese, or other white melting cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Avocado

sopa azteca with avocado pieces and melted cheese

Instructions:

Start by making the chicken.  This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator too!  You can make the shredded chicken any way that you choose, like slow cooker-style or even straight off of the rotisserie, but to give it the true Mexican flavor, it’s important to add cumin.

I place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan with the salt, bullion, garlic powder, cumin, garlic powder, bay leaves and celery salt.  Cover completely with water and place on medium-low heat.  Bring to a boil and cook thoroughly.

I like the “low and slow” theory on shredded chicken so that it comes out tender and juicy.  Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the it from the broth and shred.  Strain the broth and set aside.  

Next, you will make your soup base, which can be done while the chicken is simmering.  In a large chef’s pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat.  

While heating, roughly chop your onion and peel your garlic, adding to the pan with a tablespoon of salt. Cook the onion over medium-high heat until transparent, and add your tomatoes (undrained), and the desired amount of chipotle pepper. 

 (I use the chipotle in adobo sauce pictured below).  Cover, reduce the heat and simmer until everything is soft and the flavors have blended.  Remove from heat and let cool enough to process.  

Process the tomato base in batches a blender (or food processor or emulsifier), adding a bit of the chicken broth.  Blend until desired texture is reached, I like it completely smooth.

Now you have two options.  

You can get out a large stockpot to finish the soup in if you plan to eat it right away, or, if you are like me and try to knock out the cooking during breakfast, you can finish making the soup in the crockpot by leaving it on warm until you serve it.  

Combine the shredded chicken, soup base, and the rest of the chicken broth.  Add boxed chicken broth until you reach the desired consistency, additional salt to taste, and heat thoroughly so that the flavors meld together.

avocado pieces in costa rican sopa azteca

About This Costa Rican Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

One of our favorite recipes here at Casa Pura Vida is Sopa Azteca – it tastes like home for my husband, I LOVE anything with melted cheese, and the girls have been eating it as one of their first foods ever since we transitioned them to table food.

Although this is similar to a Chicken Tortilla Soup as served in México, I first discovered this soup living in my husband’s hometown of  San Ramón, Costa Rica.  

Making it brings back memories for both of us, and we wanted to share the recipe with you!  This is “Costa Rican Style Sopa Azteca” (yes, I fully note the irony here), and it’s incredibly easy and fast to make. I especially appreciate this chicken tortilla soup is made from scratch- but I’ve got substitutions if you want to take a few shortcuts. 

Related Recipes You’ll Love:

For more filling and delicious Costa Rican soup recipes, be sure to check out my recipes for vegetable beef soup, black bean soup, and garbanzo bean soup

Substitutions

It would be so easy to use 2 lbs of rotisserie chicken meat and make this recipe a lot faster. 

If you don’t have the homemade chicken stock you can always use boxed broth. Or you can use chicken bouillon in water- just make sure to mix well before adding to the soup. 

If you can’t get your hands on a chipotle pepper, green chilies or a teaspoon of chili powder will lend your soup a similar spicy kick.

For those that are looking for a milder tortilla soup, it helps to replace the spices and chipotle chilies with a packet of taco seasoning. The flavor won’t be quite as authentic, but you can easily control the amount of seasoning you want to use, and it is a less expensive alternative to traditional spices.

Variations

This is a popular vegan soup in parts of Costa Rica and elsewhere. If you want to make this vegan, just omit the chicken and use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock. For this rendition of tortilla soup, feel free to incorporate one cup of black beans to add texture and boost protein content. Adding in diced bell peppers in place of chicken will also lend the soup more body and flavor.

Serving Suggestions

To serve:   Place a few tortilla chips in the bottom of your bowl, and cover with soup. Be sure to reserve some fresh corn tortillas for dipping! Top with slices of avocado, cheese, and a dollop of sour cream. (Fresh cilantro sprigs are also great garnishes if you’re feeling fancy!) For an extra little zip, squeeze some lime juice over the top. Enjoy!  This would also be a great soup to eat with a guacamole appetizer

FAQ

  1. Is chicken tortilla soup good for you? – Yes! This protein and vitamin-rich soup is an excellent option for the health-conscious diner. The tomatoes give a nice dose of vitamins C, K, and A, and it’s low in both carbs and fats.  Even if you add the avocado, it’s still “good fat.”
  2. 2. How do I thicken chicken tortilla soup? Whisk to combine up to one tablespoon of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of cold water. Slowly pour the mixture into the soup, whisking as you go.
  3. 3. Does chicken tortilla soup freeze well? -Yes! Because it isn’t dairy-based, chicken tortilla soup should keep well in a freezer for up to two months. 

bowl of chicken tortilla soup from costa rica

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Sopa Azteca Recipe

Chicken tortilla soup with tortilla chips, cheese, lime garnish and wooden spoon.

This Sopa Azteca soup recipe is a fun Costa Rican twist on a classic chicken tortilla soup. Combine chicken broth, shredded chicken, chipotle chiles and tomatoes for a hearty, low-calorie meal everyone will love! 

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the shredded chicken and broth:
  • 2 lbs chicken (I use breast meat)
  • 1TB salt
  • 1 TB chicken broth base or bullion (caldo de pollo)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp celery salt (optional)
  • For the soup base:
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I use Hunt’s Fire Roasted)
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper (optional)
  • 1 box chicken broth
  • Garnishes:
  • Tortilla chips
  • Mozzarella cheese, or other white melting cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Avocado

Instructions

  1. Start by making the chicken. This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator too!  You can make the shredded chicken any way that you choose, but to give it the true Mexican flavor, it’s important to add cumin.
  2. I place the chicken breasts in a large saucepan with the salt, bullion, garlic powder, cumin, garlic powder, bay leaves and celery salt.  
  3. Cover completely with water and place on medium-low heat. Bring to a boil and cook thoroughly.
  4. I like the “low and slow” theory on shredded chicken so that it comes out tender and juicy.  Once it’s cooked through, remove the chicken from the broth and shred.
  5. Strain the broth and set aside.  
  6. Next, you will make your soup base, which can be done while the chicken is simmering.  In a large chef’s pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat.  
  7. While heating, roughly chop your onion and peel your garlic. Add them to the pan with a tablespoon of salt. Raise heat to medium-high, and cook until onion is transparent. Next, add your tomatoes (undrained), and the desired amount of chipotle pepper.
  8.  Cover, and simmer until everything is soft and the flavors have blended.  Remove from heat and let cool enough to process.  
  9. Process the tomato base in batches in a blender (or food processor or emulsifier), adding a bit of the chicken broth to thin the mixture.  Blend until desired texture is reached-- I like it completely smooth.
  10. Now you have two options: You can get out a large stockpot to finish the soup in if you plan to eat it right away, or, if you are like me and try to knock out the cooking during breakfast, you can finish making the soup in the crockpot by leaving it on warm until you serve it.  
  11. Combine the shredded chicken, soup base, and the rest of the chicken broth.  Add boxed chicken broth until you reach the desired consistency, sprinkle in additional salt to taste, and heat thoroughly so that the flavors meld together.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 780Total Fat: 48gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 255mgSodium: 4336mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 7gSugar: 5gProtein: 70g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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