May 5 is a big holiday north of the border Cinco de Mayo. It celebrates the victory of poorly-trained and hugely-outnumbered Mexican soldiers over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

In Mexico, Independence Day is a far bigger holiday, celebrated on September 16, the day Mexico won independence from Spain.

But here in the States, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to celebrate Latino culture. And in America, culture, of course, means food.

Mexican cuisine is complex, with ancient roots. It goes far beyond tacos and enchiladas. The Mexican table reflects influences of the Aztecs and the Mayans as well as the Spanish and the French.

Mexican soups are a good way to start an exploration of the cuisine as well as a good way to start a meal. They are so versatile that, once you've made a basic version, your creative spirit, plus whatever ingredients are on hand, can spin dozens of variations on the theme.

Content Continues Below ⤵ ↷

In Mexico, the midday meal is usually the big meal of the day. This meal often starts with a chicken broth-based soup full of vegetables, herbs and spices. There are creamy corn soups, seafood stews, chile soups and mushroom and pepper soups.

A chicken tortilla soup is a low-fat, high-flavor introduction to the tastes of Mexico. It is filling, rich in nutrients and easy to make.

Garlic, scallions, green chiles, bay leaf, cumin, chili powder, cilantro and lime juice give the soup a depth of flavor with no added calories. Fat-free chicken broth provides a tasty base with few calories.

More from our magazine:  Baked Vanilla Custard

Baked tortilla chips and a dollop of low-fat sour cream add a healthful, zesty garnish.

This recipe for tortilla soup is a good way to start a celebration of Cinco de Mayo and the cuisine of Mexico.

Tortilla Soup

Makes 4 servings.


  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz.) reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 12 oz. cooked chicken, cut in small pieces
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup baked tortilla chips, crumbled, for garnish
  • Low-fat sour cream, for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saut? garlic and scallions until garlic begins to color.
  2. Add broth, tomatoes, corn and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Add the chicken and heat until warmed through, about 5 minutes. Add cilantro and lime juice. Stir and warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with crumbled tortilla chips and add a dollop of sour cream in the center for garnish.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
231 calories
6 g. total fat
1 g. saturated fat
15 g. carbohydrate
31 g. protein
2 g. dietary fiber
636 mg. sodium

Content Continues Below ⤵ ↷