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Apr 13, 2024

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)

This El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup is an amazing meal in a bowl. 

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup in bowls.

I love, love, love this chicken tortilla soup. It's loaded with shredded chicken and pico de gallo, and is topped with crispy tortilla strips. 

El Pollo Loco is a California based fast food chain featuring "flame-grilled citrus-marinated" chicken. Their ingredients are so fresh compared to most fast food places. If you are ever in California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, or Utah, and you spot an El Pollo Loco, you definitely need to visit. 

To experience the original El Pollo Loco menu, I recommend ordering the "two piece combo with beans and rice." It's so good. I spent years in outside sales, driving around calling on clients and grabbing lunch on the run. El Pollo Loco was a regular stop for lunch. This chain has a special place in my heart.

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)  in bowls with garnishes.

When I changed careers and got a job on a college campus, one of the food courts on campus actually had an El Pollo Loco outlet! I thought I pretty much struck gold.

El Pollo Loco typically offers this chicken soup during the winter and fall months, and it's pretty amazing. 

Ingredients for El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup:

Chicken: I used grocery store rotisserie chickens for this soup, which made preparing the soup really easy, but you can roast your own chickens. 

Chicken broth: You can use homemade or low sodium. 

Chile: Either an Anaheim or Poblano chile. 

Corn: Either fresh or frozen corn kernels. 

Fresh Pico de Gallo: You can either use store bought or your own recipe

Vegetables: Carrots and celery.

Herbs and spices: Ground cumin, oregano, coriander seeds, granulated garlic, fresh cilantro, salt, and pepper, plus fresh lime juice. 

Garnishes: Tortilla strips, cilantro, Cotija cheese, and avocado slices. 

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)  in three bowls.

I ended up frying my own tortilla strips too. You don't have to, but I love casera (homemade) style corn strips. The only problem is that I could eat them all and have none left for the soup. For the pico de gallo, I used my homemade recipe, but you can use store bought fresh pico de gallo. 

This soup, paired with a salad, is hearty enough for a meal by itself. It's also a fantastic make-ahead recipe.

This soup only takes about thirty minutes to cook once you have all of the components. 

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)  in bowls.

This soup is pure comfort food. 

If you make this soup in advance, just keep the soup separate from the garnishes and tortillas before serving. 

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El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat) in bowls.

Originally posted August, 2017. Updated April, 2024. 

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup (Copycat)
Yield: 8 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 30 MinCook time: 30 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
This El Pollo Loco Chicken Tortilla Soup is an amazing meal in a bowl.


To Make the Soup
  • 2 (1 1/2 pounds each) rotisserie chickens
  • 2 quarts homemade or low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 fresh Anaheim or Poblano chile
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 cup fresh pico de gallo
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade or store bought corn tortilla strips (see below for homemade)
  • Garnishes: cilantro, Cotija cheese, and avocado slices


To Prepare the Soup
  1. Remove the meat from the chickens and shred it (discard the skin and bones). Place the shredded chicken in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chicken broth.
  2. Slice the chile in half lengthwise, remove the stem and seeds, and brush with oil. Place the chile halves on a foil lined baking sheet, skin side up, and broil on the middle rack, until blackened. Place the hot chile in a plastic bag, and let rest a few minutes to steam. Remove the skin and discard, and dice the chile. Add to the chicken in the pot.
  3. Add the corn, pico de gallo, carrots, celery, and spices, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper, and serve topped generously with corn tortilla strips and garnishes of your choice.
  5. For homemade tortilla strips, cut 8 corn tortillas into 1/2 inch strips and fry in 2 cups of 360 degree vegetable oil in batches, until crispy and light brown, about one to two minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

31 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

9 g

Carbs (grams)

12 g

Fiber (grams)

1 g

Net carbs

11 g

Sugar (grams)

5 g

Protein (grams)

38 g

Cholesterol (grams)

164 mg
chicken tortilla, copycat,
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Adapted from Recipe Goldmine

Would you like to comment?

  1. If I could reach in and snatch one of those bowls of am going to love this soup! Thank you!!

    1. Thanks Kathy! I hope you like it as much as I do =)

  2. Karen, I don't even know how to tell you this.... but I've never had chicken tortilla soup.... can you believe it?

    1. You'll have to fix that =) It's really delicious, and perfect when you're feeling a bit under the weather.

  3. I absolutely love how versatile this soup can do as much or as little work as possible!!! The fact that it's a soup that you could practically eat with a fork doesn't hurt either...I love a soup loaded with lots of goodies!!! Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck - Colleen

    1. Thanks Colleen! It's still delish with the shortcuts!

  4. Every single thing about this soup, I love! And your photo is gorgeous. P~

    1. Awww. Thank you! You just put a smile on my face =)

  5. Mmmm, tortilla soup is my fave - and this looks like an amazing recipe. Yummmm!

  6. My husband loves chicken tortilla soup. I can't wait to make this for him.

  7. The soup sounds amazing and I cannot wait to try this. Those phots had me licking the screen. :)

  8. The title of the restaurant reminded us of Los Pollos Hermanos (seen Breaking Bad?) :):) But there's nothing funny about this seriously delicious soup. We MUST give this a try ASAP. We'll make our own pico de gallo of course, since this isn't available here, and we bet everyone will love this. You see we're planning a Mexican dinner next week with a couple of friends:)
    Thanx so much dear!

    1. A Mexican dinner! How fun! I hope you love this recipe!

  9. I could eat tortilla soup every night! I've never had it at EL Pollo...and now I don't need too!

  10. This is such a filling tortilla soup.. delicious.

  11. So happy to have found this. El Pollo Loco's tortilla soup is one of my favorite things. As it happens, it's Thanksgiving Day, it's cold and rainy, and I'm alone this year. Going to make this for dinner tonight.

  12. I have been making tortilla soup for years but I like El Pollo Loco’s the best. We had it again last night as my husband has a cold. Today I googled for a copy cat recipe and there yours was. I’m making it right now in the crockpot and the only thing I changed was using one can of diced “fire roasted” tomatoes. I already know your recipe will replace my old one. Thank you much!

  13. Thanks for the recipe breakdown. Curious, how close to the real deal? I have a fond addiction for this soup and I want to brew my own. I enjoy this soup nearly every day of the work week but it is beginning to chip away at my budget.


    Michael J Badger

    1. It's been a long time since I've had the soup from EPL, but this one is delicious (as is the original). Try it and let me know how close you think it might be.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, myy husband loved it. He said that this was the best chicken soup I have ever made. I did not add ready made pico de gallo. I chopped tomato, cilantro and onions and added them to the pot. I also added a cup of home made tomatillo sauce. I also omitted the lime juice. Thanks again. It was great!!

  15. Do you know how many calories per cup this has?

    1. I do not. I'll have to run it through a calorie calculator.

  16. Looks delicious 🥰I have to try this soup

  17. Now this sounds like a delicious soup! I love chicken soup and this flavorful variation sounds perfect.

    1. You can't have too many chicken soup recipes!

  18. Chicken tortilla soup is a solid favorite of mine! I love all the Latin flavors, tender chicken, and tang from the lime. This one looks so hearty and delicious.

  19. Such an hearty and comforting soup that is full of flavor. It's definitely a keeper!


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