So flavorful and nutritious, chicken tortilla soup is mildly spicy and easy to make. With black beans, corn, tomatoes, and homemade crispy corn tortilla strips, it’s sure to please! 

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: Homemade soup is economical, easy to make, and tastes so much better than canned soup. It has way less sodium, too!

How long it takes: 50 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large pan, such as a Dutch oven, and rimmed baking sheet
Servings: 8

Overhead view of bowl of chicken tortilla soup topped with avocado, cilantro, tortilla strips.
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This popular chicken tortilla soup is easy to throw together, even when you don’t feel like doing any cooking. You can prepare it in less than an hour!

I flip flop between this recipe and my chicken taco soup (similar to the popular 8 can taco soup). It’s hard to say which one I like better. I do love the crispy tortilla strips in this chicken tortilla soup!

Chicken tortilla soup is popular in a lot of Mexican restaurants and it’s so easy to make at home. I think you’re going to love it.

Why You’ll Love Chicken Tortilla Soup

A quick and easy meal. Like many soup recipes, chicken tortilla soup is really quite easy to make. It’s a one pan meal; a large pot or Dutch oven is all you need. Prep time is around twenty minutes and cook time is a half hour.

Healthy ingredients. This soup is good for you, with lots of vegetables, low fat chicken breast, and extra protein and fiber from canned beans. You won’t break the calorie bank either. Since you control the sodium and fat, homemade chicken tortilla soup is much healthier than restaurant soup.

Super flavorful. Pantry spices like cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder ensure that there’s plenty of southwestern flavor. Fresh garlic, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro add even more.

Cooking Tip

Don’t be concerned if the soup’s been simmering for a half hour and you’re not quite ready to serve it yet. Just keep it on low heat and when you’re ready, serve it up. Soup is so easy and undemanding, one of the reasons I love it so much!

What you’ll need to make this soup

  • Corn Tortillas: Cut into thin strips, sprayed lightly with cooking spray, and toasted in the oven, corn tortillas provide a crispy topping for the soup. If you prefer, a package of crispy tortilla strips can be purchased.
  • Onion, Garlic, and Jalapeño Peppers: This veggie trifecta is often used in southwestern style recipes.
  • Chili Powder, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, Salt and Pepper: Such a tasty combo of spices and seasoning!
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes: Use the petite diced tomatoes, with their juice. Fire roasted tomatoes are good, too. Try to find low sodium tomatoes.
  • Black Beans: A couple cans of beans add good nutrition and flavor. Substitute pinto beans or white beans if you prefer.
  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: If you prefer dark meat, use boneless skinless chicken thighs. If you’ve done some meal prep and have cooked chicken in your freezer or fridge, that’s perfect, too! And yes, rotisserie chicken is fine, too.
  • Chicken Broth: This is soup, so you need some broth! Again, look for low sodium, or no salt added.
  • Corn: Fresh, frozen, or canned, doesn’t matter. Add it near the end of the cooking time so it doesn’t get tough.
  • Fresh Cilantro and Lime Juice: The fresh herbs and lime juice perk up the soup, adding a nice fresh flavor.
  • Toppings: lime wedges, avocado, pickled red onions, shredded cheese, sour cream … whatever you like best. Don’t forget the tortilla strips you made!
Overhead view of ingredients needed for recipe.

How to make Chicken Tortilla Soup

Begin preparing this soup by sautéing some chopped onions and  jalapeño peppers in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add chopped bell peppers if you like. Stir in the seasonings, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika and chili powder (or my homemade taco seasoning!) and cook for one more minute to toast the spices a bit. Toasting the spices deepens the flavor.

Peppers and onions sautéed with spices.

Add the uncooked chicken breasts, a couple cans of diced tomatoes, undrained, a couple cans of black beans, and chicken broth to the pan. Bring the soup to a boil, then turn it down and simmer for a bit. 

Raw chicken in a tomato based broth.

Meanwhile, make the tortilla strips in the oven. It’s super easy and you won’t be able to stop munching on them, so make extra!

Tortilla strips on a baking sheet, not yet cooked.

When the soup has finished simmering, remove the chicken. If you’re using already cooked chicken, now’s the time to add that to the pan instead. Add the corn. Shred the chicken and put it back in the soup. Simmer a few more minutes and you’re good to go!

Tortilla soup in a red dutch oven with fresh corn added.

Add a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice. Top with the tortilla strips (if you haven’t eaten all of them!). 

Large red dutch oven filled with chicken tortilla soup and fun garnishes.

Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings

Toppings really make this soup shine! Try sour cream, fresh cilantro or green onions, cubed avocado or guacamole, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeño, pickled red onions, or whatever you like.

Oh, don’t forget a Dos Equis. With lime. Cheers!

FAQs

How do you thicken tortilla soup?

There are a variety of ways to thicken tortilla soup. One of the easiest is to add diced corn tortillas to the soup. As the soup simmers, the corn tortillas will break down completely and thicken the soup.
Another method is to add cornmeal or masa harina. After the soup has simmered awhile, blend the desired amount of cornmeal or masa (3 tablespoons to a half cup) into a small amount of water. Stir the mixture into the soup and simmer an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the soup has thickened and has almost a creamy texture.
Or if you prefer, stir a few tablespoons of cornstarch into cold water until smooth, and stir it into the soup.

What is a good side for tortilla soup?

I like to go crazy with toppings. The result is that you don’t really need any sides. If you’re looking for something else to serve with your soup, try cheesy quesadillas, homemade corn bread, or chips and salsa.

Does chicken tortilla soup freeze well?

Yes! It will keep well in the freezer for at least four to six months. 

Very close up image of chicken tortilla soup.

Make-Ahead Ideas

To get a head start on the soup, chop the veggies ahead of time. Store them in the fridge in a tightly covered container. Using pre-cooked chicken saves some time, too (see box below). The tortilla strips can be made earlier. Allow them to cool completely, and store in a plastic bag or container.

Meal Prep Chicken (Make-Ahead)

Buy an economical family pack of chicken. Use your Instant Pot to make a big batch of shredded chicken, or poach it on the stovetop. You can also roast several split chicken breasts to use later. Chicken can be cooked quickly in an air fryer, too.

Storage & Reheating Tips

Refrigerate/Freeze: If you have soup left over, store it (without toppings) in the fridge for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to six months. 

Reheat: Put soup into a saucepan; reheat on the stove over medium heat until heated through. Individual portions can be reheated in the microwave in one minute increments, stirring occasionally. If the soup is frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating, for best results.

Meal plan 39 graphic with text and photos.

Free Meal Plan

Interested in weekly meal plans that include this recipe? Take a look at my Meal Plan #39 or Meal Plan #65. You’ll find a wholesome recipe for each weekday plus a categorized grocery list. Let me do the planning for you this week! We add a new meal plan weekly.

More soup Recipes!

Recipe

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

4.63 from 8 votes
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
So flavorful and nutritious, chicken tortilla soup is mildly spicy and easy to make. With black beans, corn, tomatoes, and crispy homemade corn tortilla strips, it's sure to please! 
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Ingredients 

For Tortilla Strips

  • 6 (5 to 6 inch) corn tortillas, cut in half, and then into quarter inch wide strips
  • Cooking spray, avocado or olive oil spray

For Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced (about cup)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper, more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 to 3 chicken breasts)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or canned corn)
  • cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • lime wedges, avocado, shredded cheese (Monterey jack or cheddar) for garnishing

Instructions 

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeño, salt, and pepper, and cook until softened and translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika; stir and cook for one more minute or until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, beans, chicken, and broth. Increase heat to high to bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and partially cover pan to maintain a simmer.
  • Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, make tortilla strips. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray, avocado oil, or olive oil spray. Arrange tortilla strips in an even layer on prepared baking sheet; spray lightly with cooking spray, avocado oil, or olive oil spray. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown and crispy. Check frequently to make sure they don’t burn.
  • Remove chicken breasts from soup. Using two forks, shred chicken. Return it to soup; add corn. Continue to cook the soup until heated through. Add water if soup seems too thick.
  • Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Serve immediately, topped with crispy tortilla strips, lime wedges, avocado slices, and shredded cheese.

Notes

  • Makes about 12 cups of soup. Nutritional information does ot include toppings.
  • Option: Instead of raw chicken, use 1 to 2 lbs. shredded cooked chicken breasts or thighs. A rotisserie chicken works well!
  • Instead of traditional diced tomatoes, try fire-roasted or the variety with green chiles.
  • Additional toppings: sour cream, fresh cilantro or green onions, cubed avocado, etc.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups, Calories: 323kcal, Carbohydrates: 39g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Sodium: 962mg, Potassium: 1080mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 330IU, Vitamin C: 30mg, Calcium: 106mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.63 from 8 votes (6 ratings without comment)

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21 Comments

  1. Connie says:

    5 stars
    This is a very good recipe.
    One question. Do you use two full chicken breast or two cut ones?
    This time I used precooked chicken. Probably about 3 cups.
    Thank you.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Two full chicken breasts.

  2. Ancy says:

    When do I add smoked paprika please

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Sorry about that omission! You add it with the other spices. I updated the recipe card, thank you for pointing it out.

  3. Richard says:

    4 stars
    Pretty good. Second time I used Hot Rotel instead of choped tomatos. Now its very good! Thanks for receipt.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Love that idea! Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for leaving a review!

  4. Julie says:

    I love this soup. I’ve made it twice now. The first time I made the recipe as is. The second time I made it, I used your homemade taco seasoning instead of the cumin and chili powder, equal amounts, and it was even better. Thanks so much!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Good call on the taco seasoning!

  5. claire @ the realistic nutritionist says:

    This soup looks amazing. Perfect for Cinco de Mayo!

  6. Baking Serendipity says:

    This is one of my favorite soups! One of the things I’m most excited for when it comes to living in Ohio is an extended soup season. Your recipe will definitely be making the menu list…bookmarked! :)

  7. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    Looks delicious! I’ve been wanting to make this for so long. Now I want soup for dinner ha!