Shrimp Tortilla Soup

I love soup, especially when I am trying to eat healthfully. My favorite way to make wholesome soup is to pack it with tons of veggies, fresh and dried herbs and spices, and then puree everything into a thick and satisfying bowl of warm, cozy comfort. That’s basically what I did here with my shrimp tortilla soup. Which, OMgosh people, I just honestly love this soup so much!

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

When I was a kid, I loved the restaurant Max & Ermas. I think I first fell in love with their chicken tenders and the Sundae bar that was charmingly staged in a claw-footed bath tub. I never understood what exactly a tub had to do with ice cream, but I found it cute nonetheless. At some point, I was turned on to their chicken tortilla soup and became hooked. Never before do I remember having even heard of chicken tortilla soup, and from this point on it was the benchmark to which I judged all future tortilla soups. What can I say – even back then I took my food very seriously.

What I remember liking about their version was that it seemed thick and almost creamy, even though it wasn’t a dairy based soup.  I think I’ve shared here before that all my favorite soups as a kid were cream-based: New England Clam Chowder, Cream of Broccoli and Cream of Potato securing my top three, in fact. So this was new to me. A non-brothy, non-creamy, thick soup. I actually have no idea how they made it, never ocurred to me to ask, but over the years I’ve come up with my own version and I love it even more than I love my memory of Max and Erma’s version.

Chicken tortilla soup is no doubt delish. But I love to swap shrimp for chicken every now and again. Shrimp is a little more exciting to me than chicken is, and I love the flavor it brings to the dish. So I start by searing shrimp in my favorite le creuset pot until it’s pink. Using a slotted spoon, I scoop the shrimpies out onto a clean plate and leave behind all the good juices to cook my veggies.

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

While the shrimp hangs out, I sauté together diced onion, celery, poblano pepper, orange bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic with chili powder, cumin, paprika, dried oregano, salt and pepper. See all those veggies? Flavor and nutrition all in one.

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

After softening the veggies, I stir in a can of Ro-Tel which has more chiles and seasonings than your average can of tomatoes, but either one will work. This plus stock and water get combined and brought to a boil, then lowered to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Simmer time is flavor time, where all these ingredients meld together into awesome deliciousness.

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

After the initial 15 minute simmer, I add some corn tortillas and simmer for another 5 until the tortillas are very tender and falling apart. Then, I add a handful of cilantro and use my immersion blender to whirrr everything together into a thickened soup. You could certainly blend a little less and enjoy a chunkier texture if you prefer, but I like the smoother puree myself. Once it reaches my desired smoothness, I squeeze some fresh lime juice and stir in the shrimp which I diced up after cooking.

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

Of course, texture is important for any dish, so I add a few toppings for that extra added dimension. Here I’ve topped my soup off with diced avocado and more fresh cilantro leaves. Sour cream, shredded cheese or corn chips would all make flavorful garnishes as well.

What I love is how something so flavorful is also healthy by any number of standards. Meatless, pescatarian, gluten-free and dairy-free means you can please all tastes and preferences with this one single bowl. Enjoy!

Shrimp Tortilla Soup


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Shrimp Tortilla Soup

Shrimp Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Emily Wilson
  • Prep Time: 5 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 Minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 6-7 cups 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: Mexican


I love shrimp and I love tortilla soup so I put them together into one delicioso recipe!


  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails removed
  • 1+1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 10-oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies, like Ro-Tel
  • 3 cups seafood stock, low sodium
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 corn tortillas
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Optional Garnish:

  • Avocado
  • Sour Cream
  • Queso Fresco, Crumbled
  • Cheddar Cheese, Shredded


  1. Set a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and warm.
  2. Pat shrimp dry and season with salt and pepper. Once oil is warm, add shrimp. Oil should sizzle slightly. Sauté until pink, flipping as they cook to sear evenly on both sides, about 5-6 minutes total. Transfer cooked shrimp to a clean dish.
  3. While shrimp cooks, prep your onions, peppers, celery, garlic and jalapeño.
  4. Set the pot used to cook the shrimp back over medium-high heat and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add diced onions, peppers, celery and garlic along with the paprika, chili powder, cumin and dried oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Sweat for 5-6 minutes, stirring often, until veggies are softened.
  5. Pour canned tomatoes with chilies into pot and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Stir in the stock and water and bring to a boil.
  6. While soup simmers, roughly chop the shrimp into small pieces.
  7. Once liquid is boiling, lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add corn tortillas and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Tear off a handful of fresh cilantro and add to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime juice and add back the diced shrimp. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper, or more lime juice to taste.
  9. Ladle soup into bowls and top with fresh avocado, more cilantro, crumbled cheese or a dollop of sour cream!


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