El Rey's tortilla soup

How to make El Rey’s take on authentic Mexican tortilla soup

Head chef Rodrigo Aguilar shares his special sopa de tortilla recipe

As many of us find ourselves cooking at home instead of dining out, we’re sharing recipes from some of Toronto’s top chefs and restaurants.

Toronto restaurateur Grant van Gameren’s El Rey Mezcal Bar specializes in delicious Mexican eats and cocktails. So we asked El Rey’s head chef Rodrigo Aguilar to share one of his go-to recipes to help keep the quarantine blues at bay.

“At El Rey, we serve our very own Mexico City-style tortilla soup for brunch, every weekend,” says chef Rodrigo Aguilar. “Although, the recipe has many variations, depending on the region or state, the base is always totopos (tortilla strips) and chicken broth, to which we add dry-roasted onions and garlic, diced tomatoes, and a mix of sun-dried chiles and spices.”

According to chef Aguilar, the crunchy tortillas soak up the spicy broth, creating a fascinating taste combination.

“In my family we add pulled chicken, to make it a more hardy and comforting meal. We also like to sprinkle in chile rings — fried Arbol chile rings — for some extra heat,” he says.

Mexican tortilla soup (Sopa de tortilla)

Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 portions


8pc corn tortillas
4pc guajillo pepper, dry-roasted
4pc arbol pepper, dry-roasted
1pc ancho pepper, dry-roasted
2pc roma tomato, dry-roasted
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1⁄2 cup canola oil
2pc cloves garlic, dry-roasted
1⁄2 pc onion, sliced and dry-roasted
2 stems epazote, if desired
Salt, as needed 


Totopos/tortilla strips, 8pc, to serve
150g queso fresco, diced
1pc avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
150g sour cream 



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Tortilla chips (Totopos)

Preheat the oven to 375F
Cut the tortillas into 1⁄2-inch strips
Disperse the totopos (tortilla chips) on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until light golden
Brush the totopos with canola oil to get an extra tasty and crispy texture (can also use pork lard)
Remove from the oven and season with salt
Let cool

Soup (Sopa)

While the totopos (tortilla chips) are in the oven, pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat
Add all the chiles and let them hydrate for 15 minutes or until plump
With a slotted spoon remove the chiles and put them in a food processor
Add the onion, garlic and 2 cups stock and blend until smooth
Strain back into the saucepan with the remaining stock
Add epazote and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes
Then remove epazote stems and season with salt to taste
Remove from heat
Serve in individual bowls and garnish with totopos, avocado, queso fresco and a dollop of sour cream

Looking for other chef-approved recipes to try at home? Make Pizzeria Libretto’s meatballs, Planta’s plant-based mac and cheese or chef Suzanne Barr’s cauliflower soup.

Article exclusive to TRNTO