high off the hog

Not to say we’re having anything fancy, but this meal marks one of rare occasions I went to an organic butcher shop to get a nice cut of meat! Pork roast to be exact, so in fact . . . we will be eating high off the hog tonight! I was recently traveling, and the soup special at the hotel was chicken tortilla. I love tortilla soup and had not eaten a good bowl in ages! Unfortunately, their version wasn’t too appealing, but rather a gelatinous cup of salty, chicken bullion broth—saddening sigh. In an effort to satisfy my craving, I decided to get my rear in the kitchen and create something similar. I cook with chicken probably too frequently, so it was time to mix-up the protein, but steak tortilla soup just didn’t have a nice ring to it.

I like using lean pork as a substitute for poultry sometimes, and I thought of how tasty Mexican-style carnitas are. In Southern California, you can find carnitas at pretty much any Mexican restaurant, which is really just a flavorful pork roast, shredded and crisped in its own pork fat.  Though this isn’t the healthiest preparation, it is delicious! Something about a tender, shredded pork roast seemed to sync with my south-of-the-border soup, but we’re going to execute as a healthier version without crisping the pork roast in it’s own fat, yet we add lots of vibrant & hearty ingredients leaving us with no flavor deficiency! Our Carnitas Tortilla Soup makes for a great one-pot meal, and is perfect on a cooler weekend evening. 

Let’s get some pork roasting and soup simmering:

Carnitas Tortilla Soup


Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: large pot of soup, from a 2 lb pork roast

a bowl, or 2!

Chicken gets the night off & shredded pork gets to star in my take on classic Chicken Tortilla Soup! We make a delicious spiced pork roast and use the meat in our stellar stove top Mexican meal. Fresh and flavorful, this is a great dish with warm tortillas, or even corn muffins.

What to get:

    For the Pork Roast:
  • 2 lb pork butt roast (or pork shoulder)
  • 1/4 of a white onion, chopped (You will use other 3/4 onion for soup)
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, chopped & deseeded
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 3 T fresh salsa verde (recipe also on website)
  • For the pork dry rub:
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Ingredients For The Soup:
  • 2 T EVOO (for sautéing onion & garlic)
  • 32 oz carton chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 7 oz can mild green chiles, diced
  • 14.5 oz can black beans, low sodium (drained & rinsed)
  • 14 oz can pinto beans, (drained $ rinsed)
  • 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 2 ears fresh white corn, kernels cut off cobs
  • 3/4 of a white onion, chopped (use other 1/4 for pork roast)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, chopped & deseeded
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime for wedges as a garnish
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • S&P to taste
  • For Topping Soup:
  • pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • tortilla chips, crushed
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • sour cream
  • avocado, sliced thinly

What to do:

    Make Pork Roast In Oven:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. In small bowl prepare dry rub by combining cumin, smoked paprika, S&P.
  3. In oven safe dish lined with foil & sprayed with oil, place pork roast (fatter side up), rub both sides with oil and then apply dry rub evenly.
  4. To roast in dish, evenly spread/add diced jalapeño & onion. Add the 1/4 cup of water and wine to bottom of dish.
  5. Bake roast uncovered for about 40 minutes.
  6. Spoon some of collected juices over roast, top with the salsa verde and cover with foil to finish cooking.
  7. Roast another 15 minutes & check fattest portion of roast with meat thermometer (you want a temp of between 160-170 degrees).
  8. Continue to roast covered until desired temp is reached (~40 min per pound).
  9. Remove finished roast from oven & let cool about 35 minutes (do not cut while cooling & reserve all pan drippings).
  10. Once cooled, shred pork roast meat and discard fatty portions.
  11. Start Soup:
  12. In large dutch oven on stove, heat 2T EVOO & add chopped onion, garlic, and dash of white wine.
  13. Sauté until tender, stirring frequently (add some of cooking stock as needed).
  14. To the onion mix add diced jalapeño and continue to cook, adding 1T of stock at a time to evenly sauté.
  15. Once onion mix is tender, add canned tomatoes, green chilis & stock, and bring to a slow boil.
  16. Reduce heat, add beans, corn and white wine.
  17. Continue to simmer & add lime juice and cilantro.
  18. Let soup simmer on low for another 20 min, then add pork roast drippings/juices and shredded trimmed meat, add S&P as desired, and continue to simmer for another 20 mins.
  19. Serve soup warm with small dollop of the sour cream, shredded pepper jack cheese, broken tortilla chip pieces, green onion & avocado.
  20. Squeeze a bit of lime juice on top and serve with warm flour or white corn tortillas with butter.


This isn't difficult, but does require some time to make a pork roast and then simmer the soup. The fresh flavors of lime and the marinated pork pop in this, and it can be fine-tuned to your spice preference. Get a cut of pork with enough fat to not dry out in oven, but lean enough to shred and have plenty of meat for the soup. This is fantastic with warm flour tortillas, but I think corn bread would also go well. You can add a little cooked white rice into the soup if you want a heartier meal.


Traditional carnitas, would use a fattier cut of pork, so to impart maximum flavor and make the fat available for frying the meat after it has been roasted through. I went with a leaner cut of meat, a pork shoulder, but one with enough marbled fat not to turn out dry or chewy. Pork roast should be cooked to between 160 and 170 Fahrenheit. I actually left mine in a little too long, and the roast was slightly over 170. Next time I will err closer to 160, as the shredded meat will be going into the hot soup, and cooking slightly further. The reserved pork roast drippings & juices are a great addition into our soup pot, giving us a richer savory flavor, so don’t discard them!! This meal takes longer because you are first making the roast. You could make the roast ahead and reserve drippings, so that this is a quicker weeknight meal, though the soup itself doesn’t take long. Personally, I love making savory soups on fall weekends, when I have a little more time to enjoy being in the kitchen.

This version of tortilla soup wouldn’t be complete without topping with some crisp tortilla pieces, shredded pepper jack cheese, little green onion, & creamy avocado slice. I even added a little dab of cool sour cream into the mix! The broth is rich and flavorful and goes well with warm, white corn tortillas. We add fiber-rich beans and fresh white corn to this as well, which makes it fairly filling, so I didn’t even bother making a side. I love when that’s the case! 

So we didn’t end up with classic chicken tortilla, but a tasty variation that I like just as much. If you have a Mexican food craving in the near further, this soup is sure to hit the spot, while still keeping it healthy!

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  • I love love soups like these! I haven’t even had breakfast, but I want this soup!ReplyCancel

    • lbs

      Thank you! It turned out pretty tasty, and was very good left over! These types of soups are great because you can add what you have on hand, and make it as spicy as you want easily. There is nothing wrong with soup for breakfast I don’t think:) Enjoy!ReplyCancel

  • In love with this recipe! Never had tortilla soup with pork but going to try it tonight!ReplyCancel

    • lbs

      Hi Jen, Thank you for visiting! I hope you like it, and it turns out tasty! I find the pork roasted version is more work, but I love the flavor it takes on in this soup!ReplyCancel

  • Looks great! I’ve been craving chicken tortilla soup and I have frozen carnitas in the freezer – thanks for the stunning recipe!ReplyCancel

  • […] View Recipe Preparation Instructions […]ReplyCancel

  • Estelle

    Just made this soup with left-over pork carnitas. I wasn’t sure when to add the diced green chilis to the soup. I didn’t see it in the instructions. So, I left them out, but I wondered if you could let me know when you get a chance. It tastes delicious even without them, but I guess it could have a bit more kick if I had put them in. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • the dinnervine

      Hello Estelle,

      I am just seeing this comment now, I never got a notification—I am so very sorry! I hope the soup turned out well for you. Yes, that was my mistake, I accidentally left out the green chilies in the instructions portion (they should have gone in with the tomatoes), so I just updated the recipe online. Sorry for any confusion, thank you! LyndsyReplyCancel

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