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Soup | October 2, 2018

Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

It’s soup time! Soup weather is the best weather, do you agree? Soup is one of my favorite things to cook because it’s easy and filling, and can most of the time be made in just a few minutes. Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of our favorites!

Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup
Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love the flavors in Cafe Rio’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. It’s packed with veggies and chicken and is made with a simple chicken broth base. The tomatoes in the Rotel give this soup a nice flavor as well. I experimented with lots of white chili, and tortilla soup recipes (also using Cafe Rio’s soup as a model) before finding the perfect combo for this Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup.  If you love the flavor of Cafe Rio’s soup,  add a scoop of guac to this recipe  just before serving. Do not make this soup unless you have grated cheese and tortilla chips to pile on top of the soup!  That’s the only way to eat it, in my opinion. Oh, and a  squeeze of fresh lime!

Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

Making this soup is so simple and stands alone as the perfect main dish on a cold evening, or is also perfect as a side dish for a Mexican style meal! One recipe serves 8 as a main dish.

If you serve this as a side dish, it will serve approximately 12  in small bowls. I love to serve this with a simple cheesy quesadilla or chips, guac and salsa. I  don’t know a single person who doesn’t love this soup. My grandkids eat it often, and my daughter Corrine loves to make it because it’s a quick and easy dinner after a busy day of work!

Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

Interested in making more copycat Cafe Rio recipes?

5 from 10 votes

Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

Course main
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 people


  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 chicken breast halves skinless, boneless
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 whole large sweet onion, chopped about 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 4 oz can chopped mild green chilies
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 can Rotel brand tomato lime juice and cilantro
  • 1 14 oz can small white beans
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons chicken flavoring I use Knorr Brand or Better than Bullion or bullion granules or cubes may be used
  • 1-2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Serve with guac, sour cream, grated cheese and tortilla chips.


  1. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until light brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Season with salt and pepper while cooking. 

  2. Add 3 cups cold water to pan, cover and simmer chicken on medium high heat until cooked through, about 8  minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

  3. In same pan, add onion,carrots, chilies, garlic, cumin and Rotel to juices, and add enough broth from carton until vegetables are covered. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. 

  4. Chop the chicken. Add chicken, beans, corn and fresh lime juice to vegetable mixture in pan with remaining broth. If additional chicken flavor is needed, add some chicken flavoring to taste. Salt and Pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

  5. Serve with tortilla chips, guac, grated cheese, sour cream. 

28 thoughts on “Homemade Cafe Rio Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Recipe Rating

    1. Hi Ann,

      you may use bullion or other flavoring products. I use Knorr or “Better than Bullion” most of the time. I’ll make a note on the recipe. Thanks for reading ABK!

    2. Hi Ann,

      Yes, bullion cubes or granules or I often use Knorr flavoring as well. Know is sold in little mini “tubs” about 4 per package. They are concentrated liquid chicken flavoring, they also come in beef flavor. Thanks for asking. I amended the recipe to include a note!
      thanks for reading ABK,

        1. Hi Allyson,
          I would start with 1-2 and then taste to see if it is enough flavoring. If more is needed, add an additional bit of bullion. Hope you love this recipe!

  1. I’m so excited to try this!! I LOVE Cafe Rio’s soup!!! A couple questions for you-what is the rotel tomato lime juice and cilantro?? Also, because of food sensitivities, I can’t use most chicken flavoring/boullion-do you have a rec for a replacement??

    1. Hi Erin,
      It is a can of tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro and other items all in one product. Usually sold near the Mexican food items or near the canned tomatoes in the grocery. Any flavor will do, some are spicier than others so read the label carefully! Thanks for reading ABK!

      1. 5 stars
        Made it last night for dinner and it was AMAZING!!!! Thanks for the fab recipe. I think we’ll be eating this on repeat all fall/winter long!

    1. Hi LeAnn,

      You could cook the chicken for about 4-5 minutes at high pressure in 12 cup of liquid. Then let it natural release and chop .Remove from the Ip insert and set aside. Then place the veggies in the pot on the saute setting and cook until they are softened in the broth. Add the chopped chicken and rest of ingredients back to pot and serve! hope this helps,

  2. 5 stars
    I made this last night when I really didn’t want to make dinner. It was so easy and super fast. I had all the ingredients on hand and it only took 30 min from start to serve. We also have food allergies (milk eggs and peanut) and this was totally safe. It’s going to be in our regular meal plans from now on ❤️

    1. I’m so glad to hear that, Hilary. That’s why I love this recipe, it’s so easy, convenient, and simple. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!

  3. 5 stars
    I saw this on your Instagram feed and was inspired to make it. It turned out great. We all know how hard it is to please 5 kiddos at dinner time and they all liked it. Thank you for making dinner in our house a joy.

    1. You’re welcome, Liz. I know how hard it can be to make something everyone will enjoy, especially with kids! But this soup is about as yummy as it gets. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!

  4. 5 stars
    Made this for dinner because I had all ingredients and didn’t have to go shopping for any ingredients. So quick and easy. We all loved it…even my 2 year old ate it and asked for seconds!

    1. So glad to hear this Shannon! A two year old can be a tough audience! Thanks for your review and for reading ABK,

  5. 5 stars
    Question! Do you leave to water in the pan from cooking the chicken and add to it, or was the water just for cooking the chicken and discard after the chicken is cooked?! Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks for this recipe! I’ve made it several times in a couple weeks. For my family, and others. Everyone loves it. I was in rush one time and used rotisserie chicken and chicken broth and was ok too. Thank you!!!!

  7. I am going to try this recipe. I love the cafe rio soup. I have one question…probably a silly question. Do you drain the water after boiling the chicken? Then add the tomatoes and broth or add it to the water? Trying to add new recipes and become a better cook🙂🙂

    1. Hi Ilene, I separate the chicken from the water, and use the same pan with the water to add the spices and other ingredients. I hope this helps and thanks for reading ABK!

  8. One of my favorite soup recipes. I love the edition of the carrots in the recipe to bump of the veggie count. Easy and delicious!

  9. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and my 7-year-old daughter said, “This is definitely a keeper!” It was so yummy and simple to make. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love making this soup too, Lana, especially if I need something quick and easy! Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK,

  10. Made this for dinner tonight. I had a couple of fresh jalapenos that needed to be used up, so I seeded and deveined them and threw them in. Also I didn’t read the recipe very carefully (obviously) and totally missed the part where I was supposed to cook the chicken in water, LOL. So instead I cooked it in the oil until it was cooked through, then took it out and sauteed the veggies in the oil, then added just 3 cups of broth and managed to follow the rest of the recipe as written. It was delicious!!! Thank you!

  11. 5 stars
    this is one of my favorite copy cat recipes! We use crushed tortilla chips to sprinkle on top and lots of yummy toppings like sour cream and avocado:)

  12. 5 stars
    This soup is AMAZING! Oh my gosh, my husband and I were so impressed with how good it was. We love the Cafe Rio version and this one is even better!