I made this recipe tonight after finding this post a few weeks ago. DELICIOUS!!
I don't know much about cream. I used heavy whipping cream and by the time I added the cream I decided to leave out the sour cream. It was already VERY creamy.
It was alot cheesier than any tortilla soup I've had before. I've also never had the soup at Applebees so I can't compare authenticity. All the tortilla soups I've had in the past were very brothy. Probably similar to this recipe without the cheese or cream. My whole family loved it though.