Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup

5 from 38 votes
75 Comments

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If you love Cafe Rio’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, but don’t want to go out, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with this tasty copycat recipe!

A bowl of cafe rio chicken tortilla soup topped with tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime wedges
Featured with this Recipe
  1. Ingredients in Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup
  2. Add-ins and Substitutions
  3. Make Your Own Tortilla Strips
  4. A Few Twists on the Original
  5. Simple Steps to this Tortilla Soup Recipe
  6. Frequently Asked Questions
  7. Cafe Rio Copycat Recipes
  8. How to Make Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup
  9. Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup Recipe

This copycat Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup recipe tastes just like the Cafe Rio favorite, if not better! This is by far my most favorite chicken tortilla soup so I’m so excited to share this copycat recipe with you. It is so hearty you can serve it as a main dish or as an appetizer to other favorite Cafe Rio main dishes. It’s fresh, fragrant and full of shredded chicken and spices, plus this chicken tortilla soup recipe is a cinch to make! I just know you’re going to love it!

Ingredients in Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Onion – one medium yellow onion, diced
  • Vegetable oil – one tablespoon of your favorite vegetable or olive oil.
  • Cumin – half a teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper – start with a quarter teaspoon, and add more if you like it spicier.
  • Chili powder – half tsp or more for extra kick
  • Chicken broth – five cups, which is about a box and a half of both. You can use low sodium chicken broth or make your own with water and chicken bullion cubes.
  • Fresh cilantro – three tablespoons, finely chopped
  • Lime – squeeze the juice about half a fresh lime.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper – to taste
  • Pinto beans – 1 can, drained and rinsed. the original Cafe Rio tortilla soup doesn’t have beans, but we find that it is more filling this way. You can also use black beans or small white beans.
  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – cooked and shredded
  • Taco seasoning – two tablespoons. You can make your own taco seasoning with chili powder, cumin, cornstarch, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes,
  • Paprika – one tablespoon of this spice will give the soup a beautiful color and rich flavor.
  • Pico de gallo – we have a delicious recipe for homemade pico de gallo!
  • Avocados – two ripe avocados, diced
  • Cheese – two cups of your favorite shredded cheese. We love pepper jack cheese, cheddar cheese, monterey jack cheese, etc.
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Lime wedges and more fresh cilantro – for garnish
A white bowl with shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, and pico de gallo



Add-ins and Substitutions

The best part about making soup is you can easily toss in extra vegetables or leave out things you know your family doesn’t like. For extra bulk and variety of flavors, try some of these ingredients:

  • Sliced jalapeños
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Rotel
  • Mild green chilies
  • Shredded carrots
  • Sour cream
  • Celery
  • One or two cloves garlic
  • Green chiles
  • Red bell pepper
  • Spicy chipotle pepper
  • Squeeze of lime juice


Make Your Own Tortilla Strips

You can make your own homemade crispy tortilla strips with corn tortillas and a little oil. They’re so easy to make. You can either fry or bake them and then just sprinkle on a little salt then add to individual bowls of this delicious soup.

A Few Twists on the Original

  • Make slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. You can throw the chicken in the crock pot with the broth and it will taste rich and delicious. See the recipe card below for slow cooker instructions.
  • Personally I LOVE the smoky grilled chicken taste, so you can definitely grill the chicken on an outdoor grill and toss it into the soup.
  • I added pinto beans (not the Cafe Rio original way of doing things but it is totally worth doing). The meaty beans give it a deeper flavor and extra protein and actually makes the soup go further. If you want to keep it EXACTLY like Cafe Rio feel free to leave them out.
  • Instead of adding scoop of guacamole (as I know Cafe Rio does), I just diced avocado which just saves time having to make a separate little thing of guacamole. Plus I love having the chunks of cool avocado in there.
A bowl of shredded grilled chicken

Simple Steps to this Tortilla Soup Recipe

  1. First, saute the onion in a little olive oil or vegetable oil until it’s slightly soft and translucent.
  2. Then add all the fragrant spices: cumin, cayenne, and chili powder and saute an additional minute or two.
  3. To cook on the stovetop, transfer seasoned onions to a large pot or sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes.
  4. While that’s simmering, brush your chicken breasts with oil and rub on the taco seasoning and paprika. Grill on an outdoor or indoor grill until cooked through and then shred.
  5. In individual small bowls layer chicken, about a few tablespoons of the pico de gallo, some diced avocado, and and a sprinkle of your favorite cheese.
  6. Finally, ladle about 1 to 1 ½ cups of broth directly over the layers. Top with tortilla strips and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you take the heat out of tortilla soup?

This soup recipe isn’t super spicy, but you can leave out the cayenne pepper if you want to be safe.

Does chicken tortilla soup have a lot of carbs?

No, tortilla soup is a very low carb meal. Just leave out the tortilla strip toppings and you are good to go!

Can you freeze chicken tortilla soup?

Yes! This soup is great in the freezer. Store it in an airtight container for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

Read Next:Easy Crockpot Soup Recipes: Cozy Meals for Cold Days

A bowl of chicken tortilla soup

Cafe Rio Copycat Recipes

Can’t get enough Cafe Rio or Costa Vida? Neither can we. That is why we have created a whole collection copycat recipes so we can enjoy all the flavors we love from these restaurants in our own homes. Here are links to more of our favorites:

How to Make Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup

A bowl of cafe rio chicken tortilla soup topped with tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime wedges

Cafe Rio Tortilla Soup

5 from 38 votes
If you love Cafe Rio’s Chicken Tortilla Soup, but don’t want to go out – don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with this AMAZING copycat recipe!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Simmering time 2 hours
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican/Spanish
Servings 6 servings

Video

Equipment

  • Skillet
  • Crockpot Slow Cooker

Ingredients

Instructions

  • In a small skillet, saute onion in 1 Tbsp. oil until onions become slightly soft. Stir in cumin, cayenne, and chili powder and saute an additional minute or two.
    Sauteed onions in a pot with spices
  • Crock Pot Method: Transfer seasoned onions to a small-medium crock pot. Add chicken broth, cliantro, lime juice, pepper and pinto beans to onions and simmer on low-heat for at least 2-3 hours.
    Stovetop Method: Transfer seasoned onions to a large pot or sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then simmer on low heat for at least 30 minutes.
    Chicken broth, onions, cilantro, pinto beans, and spices in a pot
  • In the meantime (when you are close to serving), combine taco seasoning and paprika. Brush chicken with oil and rub with taco seasoning/paprika mixture.
    chicken breasts rubbed with spices
  • Grill chicken over medium-heat until cooked through (try to turn only once during the grilling process).
    grilled chicken breasts
  • Remove from grill and shred.
    A bowl of shredded grilled chicken
  • In individual small bowls layer chicken, about a few tablespoons of the pico de gallo, ⅓ cup diced avocado, and ⅓ cup pepper jack cheese.
    A white bowl with shredded chicken, avocado, cheese, and pico de gallo
  • Ladle about 1 to 1 ½ cups of broth directly over the layers. Top with tortilla strips and garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.
    A bowl of cafe rio chicken tortilla soup topped with tortilla chips, cilantro, and lime wedges

Notes

  • You can throw the chicken in the crock pot with the broth and it will taste rich and delicious, but personally I LOVE the smoky grilled chicken taste. Grill it if you can!
  • I added pinto beans (not the Cafe Rio original way of doing things but it is totally worth doing). The meaty beans give it a deeper flavor and actually makes the soup go further. If you want to keep it EXACTLY like Cafe Rio feel free to leave them out.
  • Instead of adding scoop of guacamole (as I know Cafe Rio does), I just diced avocado which just saves time having to make a separate little thing of guacamole. Plus I love having the chunks of cool avocado in there.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 642kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 44gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 1647mgPotassium: 1243mgFiber: 13gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 3057IUVitamin C: 29mgCalcium: 659mgIron: 4mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. Tastes good but does not taste the same as Cafe Rio tortilla soup. Doesn’t have some of the basic ingredients in the primary recipe like carrots and added in pinto beans. Even leaving out the beans and adding in the carrots it still didn’t taste like Cafe Rio tortilla soup, but it tasted good. 3 stars because for me the whole point was that it’s supposed to taste like Cafe Rio’s tortilla soup.

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