It’s Vanessa’s and Heather’s first annual Soup Exchange and I’m sharing my version of Max & Erma’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. Max and Erma’s is a popular chain restaurant in our area, with locations throughout the country. Most of you know that when someone attempts to clone a recipe, it is not always an exact duplicate. I don’t claim to have perfectly replicated Max & Erma’s chicken tortilla soup. In actuality, I think my recipe has much more flavor to it. And a lot more chicken!
Every time I make this recipe, people love it and I never have left-overs. It is a rich, creamy soup flavored with the southwestern touches of salsa, garlic, and both red and green chiles. It can be seasoned to make it as spicy as you want it. I also use New Mexico red chile pepper powder instead of ordinary red chili powder. Note the way I’m even spelling the word, “chile.” Currently, the consensus is that the correct spelling is actually with an “e” at the end of the word instead of an “i,” which is the anglicized version.
For those of you who may not have access to Hispanic foods, either in a specialty store or in the specialty foods department of your grocery store, you can substitute ordinary chili powder, which is a mixture of chile powder and other spices. The soup just won’t be quite as flavorful. You will also need to add much more of it than the New Mexico red chile powder. And if you are concerned about sodium when making this soup, you may use low sodium varieties of the canned soups and the chicken broth, with no consequences.
Max & Erma’s Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Sue’s Version
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's condensed cream of celery soup
2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's cheddar cheese soup
2 (15 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes - I use petite
1 cup picante salsa - I use Pace brand- medium hot ( because I like a lot of flavor, I often use the entire jar of the picante sauce)
1 (4 1/2 ounce) can green chiles (Ortega brand)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red New Mexico Chile Powder
NOTE -- This is not the same as ordinary red chili powder. Red New Mexico chile powder can be found in specialty foods stores or often in the specialty area of your supermarket- sometimes in the produce department with the dried chiles)
****** If you use ordinary chili powder, you can start out using approximately 2 Tablespoons of it. Then add more to your taste!
1 /4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 large cooked chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
salt and pepper, to your taste
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1/2 lb. Colby cheese
- In a large (10-12 quart) stockpot combine and whisk together all eight cans of soup until smooth.
- Add chicken broth, tomatoes, salsa, green chiles, onion, garlic, chile powder, salt and pepper.
- Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add chicken breast chunks. Simmer another hour.
- Add cilantro during the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
- While soup is simmering, make your soup toppings:
- Cut flour tortillas into small, thin strips. Heat oil to 325 degrees and fry tortilla strips in batches until lightly browned. Be careful- it’s easy to burn them if you aren’t careful.
- Shred cheese.
- To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with shredded cheese and fried tortilla strips. You can top it with additional sprigs of cilantro, as well.
I’ve changed the recipe directions just slightly from the published versions listed at the end of this post and have clarified the difference between “ red chile powder” and ordinary “chili powder.”
I’m having a nice chilled mug of Dos Equis beer with my bowl of soup!
I originally submitted this recipe to Recipe Link in 2000. It is also listed at Copykat Recipes, Recipe Goldmine, and Food.com. Someone on the Food.com site “borrowed” my recipe and submitted it as her own. If she had just said she was inspired by me, then changed the recipe, I could see saying it was hers; but the recipe is identical, right down to the order that I listed the ingredients. Coincidence??? She did, however, change the spelling of the word chile- probably because she thought I misspelled it. And she didn’t list the brand names I preferred. While I know that there was no copyright infringement involved with her claiming my recipe as her own, it just amazes me as to how rude some people can be! Okay, no more griping…
But let me tell ya- I DO believe in Karma!