Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup

5 from 2 votes
1 hour
Jump To Recipe

Fun, festive, flavorful Mexican-inspired Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup is a surefire way to bring a smile to everyone at the table–especially the seafood lovers! A spicy, tomatoey broth kicked up with fresh lime juice is the perfect pairing with shrimp while corn adds a touch of sweetness to the tangy base. Once prepped, it comes together quickly.

Bowl of Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup with spoon.

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Tortilla soup is a specialty served in and around Mexico City, Mexico. Although no one knows the exact origin of tortilla soup (also known as Sopa Azteca), no one can dispute its popularity.

This version of tortilla soup is probably not as authentic as what is served there, but I can say it is delicious!

  • A spicy, tomatoey broth kicked up with fresh lime juice is the perfect pairing with shrimp.
  • Corn adds a touch of sweetness to the tangy base.
  • Crunchy tortilla strips, avocado, scallions, fresh jalapeno, cilantro and lime wedges add even more fun to this vibrant soup.

Once prepped, Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup comes together quickly. Read on for some time-saving tips so you can have this flavorful, fun, festive soup on the table in no time!

Three bowls of Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup with garnishes.

How to Make Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make this recipe along with how to prep. See the tortilla soup recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Corn Tortilla Strips: Tortilla soup is a great way to use up past-their-prime corn tortillas. They fry up quickly in canola or vegetable oil and given a light sprinkling of salt and chili powder, you’ll find them hard to resist!
  • Bell Pepper: Use any color: Red, yellow or orange.
  • Jalapeno Peppers: We enjoy the added heat from the seeds but if you want to tone down the heat, remove the seeds and membrane as that’s where most of the heat comes from.
  • Clam Juice: Clam juice is prepared from the liquid collected from steamed clams. Bottled clam juice is available in the canned fish and seafood aisle in any grocery store.
  • Chicken Broth: With all the vibrant flavors going on and the addition of clam juice, the chicken broth won’t compete and simply adds depth. If you can find fish stock, you can use that instead.
  • Mexican Oregano: Mexican oregano has an earthy flavor with citrus undertones and is a staple in Mexican cooking. Turkish or Greek oregano that you may be most familiar with is not a good substitute as that oregano has minty undertones. These two types of oregano share a name but that’s about it.
  • Corn: I used frozen, thawed corn kernels but canned corn if that’s what you have is fine, too.
  • Shrimp: I always buy wild-caught American shrimp. It has a superior texture to farmed, imported shrimp and buying it supports American jobs. I also always buy frozen shrimp as the quality will be better than anything that has been thawed and sitting in the seafood counter. (Because shrimp is so perishable, all shrimp is frozen shortly after it’s caught.) You can use any size shrimp but I like medium (often sold as 41-50 count) shrimp for shrimp tortilla soup as one shrimp fits on a soup spoon which makes it easy to eat and it cooks in seconds! Here’s a guide to shrimp sizes from Fine Cooking Magazine. Be sure to look each one over for any missed veins or shell fragments.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Slice the corn tortillas into approximately 1/2-inch strips.
  • Heat the canola (or vegetable oil) in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium high heat.
  • Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips until crisp and just starting to turn golden. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Immediately sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt and chili powder. Set aside.
  • Pour off all but two tablespoons or so of the oil.
  • Add the onions and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
Cooked onion in white Dutch oven.
  • Add the bell pepper and jalapeno and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until it begins to soften.
Cooked onion, red bel pepper and jalapeno in white Dutch oven.
  • Add the garlic and spices and cook briefly. Cooking the spices briefly is going to awaken their flavor.
  • Add the chicken broth, clam juice and diced tomatoes.
  • Bring that up to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • MAKE AHEAD:  Can be done to this point 1-2 days ahead of time. Cool and refrigerate. You can even add the corn ahead of time, just don’t cook it too much. Reheat before adding the shrimp.
Soup in white Dutch oven.
  • Add the shrimp and corn and cook briefly. Shrimp, especially smaller shrimp will cook QUICKLY!
Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup in white Dutch oven being stirred with soup ladle.
  • Add lime juice, cilantro and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • That’s it!!
  • Serve with all the toppings and enjoy!
Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup in white Dutch oven on blue background.
Three bowls of Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup on blue background with garnishes.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Seasoning any fried food right out of the hot fat helps the salt and seasoning adhere. The salt or other seasoning will fall off if you wait too long.
  • To thaw shrimp quickly, immerse the desired amount in a bowl of cold water. Check the shrimp after 15 minutes and break up any clumps that freeze together. The shrimp may need another 5-10 minutes depending on the size. Once the shrimp are just beginning to become pliable, drain and peel and devein. If already peeled and deveined, look each one over for any missed shells or veins. Shrimp should never SIT in water for a long period of time as they can absorb water and the texture will be adversely affected.
  • Time-saving tips:
    • Use two 10-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles in place of the tomatoes and chopped fresh jalapenos.
    • Use tortilla or corn chips in place of the fried tortilla strips. Or, fried tortilla strips for topping salads are available in the salad section of most grocery stores.
Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup in gray bowl with spoon.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I make shrimp and corn tortilla soup ahead of time?

Yes. I would leave the shrimp out for the best results. Get everything done to the point of adding the shrimp, cool and refrigerate. You can even add the corn ahead of time, just don’t cook it too much. Overcooked corn tends to get gummy. When ready to serve, get the soup simmering, add the shrimp and you’re good to go!

How do I reheat leftover shrimp tortilla soup?

Place leftovers in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat until soup begins to simmer, steam and is heated through. Be careful not to boil the soup as the shrimp will toughen up.

Can I use chicken instead of the shrimp?

Yes, absolutely. If you prefer or there’s a food allergy to shrimp and/or shellfish, definitely use chicken instead.

Make it a meal with:

More spicy soup recipes sure to warm you up!

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Bowl of Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup with spoon.

Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup

5 from 2 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Fun, festive, flavorful Mexican-inspired Shrimp and Corn Tortilla Soup is a surefire way to bring a smile to everyone at the table–especially the seafood lovers! A spicy, tomatoey broth kicked up with fresh lime juice is the perfect pairing with shrimp while corn adds a touch of sweetness to the tangy base. Once prepped, it comes together quickly.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Soups and Stews
Cuisine Southwestern / Mexican
Servings 6
Calories 623 kcal

Ingredients
  

Tortilla Strips

  • 1/2 cup canola oil - or vegetable oil
  • 6 (6-inch) corn tortillas - halved through the center and cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • Salt
  • Chili Powder

Soup

  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper - seeded, membrane removed and chopped
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers - seeded if desired, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bottle (8-ounce) clam juice
  • 1 can (14.5-ounce) petite diced tomatoes - undrained
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp (41-50 count) - peeled, deveined and tail removed
  • 1 bag (12-ounce) frozen corn kernels - thawed and rinsed under cold running tap water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice - or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste

Toppings

  • 1 medium avocado - peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 small bunch scallions - white and light green part only, sliced
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper - sliced
  • Cilantro leaves
  • Lime wedges

Instructions
 

Tortilla Strips

  • Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot. Add half the tortilla strips and fry 3-4 minutes until beginning to turn light golden brown and crisp, stirring them gently once or twice.
  • Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle lightly with a little salt and chili powder. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips.

Soup

  • Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the oil. Keep the Dutch oven at medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook until it begins to soften, approximately 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the bell pepper and jalapeno peppers. Cook 3-4 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano and saute briefly, 15 seconds.
  • Add the chicken broth, clam juice and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • Add shrimp and corn. Cook 1-2 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through, pink and firm.
  • Add lime juice, cilantro and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and top with toppings as desired.

Notes

SUBSTITUTIONS: 
  • Use two 10-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles in place of the tomatoes and chopped fresh jalapenos.
  • Use tortilla or corn chips in place of the fried tortilla strips. Or, fried tortilla strips for topping salads are available in the salad section of most grocery stores.
  • Chicken in place of shrimp.
MAKE AHEAD:  Leave the shrimp out for the best results. Get everything done to the point of adding the shrimp, cool and refrigerate. You can even add the corn ahead of time, just don’t cook it too much.  When ready to serve, get the soup simmering, add the shrimp and cook through.
REHEATING LEFTOVERS:  Place leftovers in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat until soup begins to simmer, steam and is heated through. Be careful not to boil the soup as the shrimp will toughen up.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 3762mg | Potassium: 3091mg | Fiber: 30g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 11598IU | Vitamin C: 381mg | Calcium: 360mg | Iron: 13mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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