Max & Erma's Chicken Tortilla Soup - Sue's Original Clone

Total Time
2hrs 30mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 2 hrs

In 2001 I attempted to duplicate Max & Erma's (well-known mid-west restaurant chain) chicken tortilla soup. It elicits favorable compliments every time that I serve it. Rather than prepare a time-consuming cream/milk base, I chose to use condensed soups. With the addition of the other ingredients, the end result is a tasty, spicy, flavorful southwestern soup.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 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
  • 1 cup picante salsa (Pace brand medium hot)
  • 1 (4 1/2 ounce) can green chilies (Ortega brand)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red new mexico chile powder (NOTE -- This is not the same as ordinary red chili powder. It can often be found in specialty foods)
  • salt and pepper, to your taste
  • 14 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cooked chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 1 12 cups vegetable oil
  • 12 lb colby cheese


  1. In a large (8-10 quart) stockpot combine and whisk together until smooth all eight cans of soup.
  2. Add chicken broth. Add tomatoes, salsa, green chiles, onion, garlic, chile powder, salt and pepper. Bring all ingredients to a full boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Add cilantro and chicken breast chunks. Simmer another hour.
  4. While soup is simmering, make your soup toppings: Cut flour tortillas into small thin strips. Heat oil and deep fry tortilla strips until lightly browned. Shred cheese.
  5. To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with shredded cheese and fried tortilla strips.


Most Helpful

This is an excellent clone (I live 5 minutes from a Max and Erma's, so I am well versed in this soup). It was a little salty for my tastes, so next time I will probably omit the cream of mushroom, and double up on the cream of chicken soup.

Morrison January 31, 2007

Considering the fact that there are no mushrooms in Max & Erma's tortilla soup, I don't think I'll try this recipe.

Debra B. December 16, 2016

OMW! I wish I could have rated it beyond 5 stars because this recipe this that fantastic. I cut it in half because I wasn't sure if everyone in my family would like it and even my daughter (who's extremely picky) loved it. I added a pinch of cayenne pepper in error (I was working on two recipes at the same time) but it didn't alter the flavor. Then, with some of the tortilla strips that I had left over, I deep fried them and rolled them in granulated sugar, cinnamon and brown sugar! Then my husband topped them with honey and chocolate syrup. :)

ruby2010 September 21, 2013

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