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

"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."
photo by Knockaderry photo by Knockaderry
photo by Knockaderry
photo by Suzanne L. photo by Suzanne L.
photo by Suzanne L. photo by Suzanne L.
photo by Chef Petunia photo by Chef Petunia
Ready In:
2hrs 30mins


  • 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


  • In a large (8-10 quart) stockpot combine and whisk together until smooth all eight cans of soup.
  • 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.
  • Add cilantro and chicken breast chunks. Simmer another hour.
  • 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.
  • To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with shredded cheese and fried tortilla strips.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Debra B.
    Considering the fact that there are no mushrooms in Max & Erma's tortilla soup, I don't think I'll try this recipe.
  2. 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.
  3. klbem129
    This recipe is perfect! Easy to make and tastes just like Max and Erma's. Note - for those not wanting to make it because of the cream of mushroom soup, I just strained out the big pieces of mushrooms before adding it. Worked perfectly!
  4. melodyrose1st
    How can this be a clone of max and ermas when you are using mushroom soup. I really want a recipe that taste like their soup I don't know how this one will. I think people forget what their soup taste like.
  5. Suzanne L.
    I made this after having it for the first time in Indianapolis!!! IT WAS SO AMAZING!!! I did marinate my chicken in taco seasoning to bake it, and I used corn tortillas instead of flour... Thank you so much for the recipe...soups are the very best thing during these cold weather months!
    • Review photo by Suzanne L.


  1. mariakauflin
    Hi! Thanks for the recipe! Does this freeze well? Also, does anyone remove the chunks of mushrooms from the mushroom soup? Thanks!
  2. chrystal_wineinger
    We LOVE this soup and it is soooo easy!! I substituted low fat soups for the originals and low fat Velveeta for the cheese soup. I used chicken bouillon instead of broth and sprayed the tortilla strips with cooking spray and pan fried them lightly. I've never made it the "full fat" way, but my low fat version is wonderful!!
  3. lizgirl05
    I thought this recipe was GREAT! I can't exactly remember what Max and Erma's tastes like, but either way, this soup was so good! Some things I did differently...<br/><br/>1) Used Picante's hot salsa<br/>2) Left out the cilantro<br/>3) Used regular chili powder<br/>4) Instead of using a can of diced tomatoes and a can of green chilies, I used Rotel's 'mild diced tomatoes with green chilies'<br/>5) I bought pre-made tortilla strips



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