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

READY IN: 2hrs 30mins
Recipe by Sue S.

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.

Top Review by Morrison

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.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 2 (609.51 g) can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 (609.51 g) can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
  • 2 (609.51 g) can Campbell's condensed cream of celery soup
  • 2 (609.51 g) can Campbell's cheddar cheese soup
  • 2 (850.48 g) can chicken broth
  • 425.24 g can diced tomatoes
  • 236.59 ml picante salsa (Pace brand medium hot)
  • 127.57 g can green chilies (Ortega brand)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • 4.92 ml 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
  • 59.14 ml fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 cooked chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
  • 10 flour tortillas
  • 354.88 ml vegetable oil
  • 226.79 g 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.

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