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!
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. With southwestern flavors of cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder, it’s super flavorful.
This soup is good for you, too, with healthy vegetables, low fat chicken breast, and lots of bean power. You won’t break the calorie bank either.
Chicken tortilla soup is popular in a lot of Mexican restaurants and it’s so easy to make at home. I’m sure it’s much healthier than restaurant versions, too, because you control the sodium and fat.
About This Recipe
This soup recipe is really quite easy to make. It’s a one pan meal so you’ll need a large pot or Dutch oven. Prep time is around twenty minutes and cook time is a half hour.
Don’t be concerned if the soup’s been simmering for a half hour and you’re not quite ready to eat 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!
As always, you’ll find the complete recipe card (and it’s printable!) at the end of this post.
What you 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.
- 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! I use my Instant Pot to make a big batch of shredded chicken or I roast a bunch of split chicken breasts to use later. 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, shredded cheese, sour cream … whatever you like best. Don’t forget the tortilla strips you made!
How to make it
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!).
Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings
Toppings really make this soup shine! Try sour cream, fresh cilantro or green onions, cubed avocado, shredded cheese, sliced jalapeño, or whatever you like.
Oh, don’t forget a Dos Equis. With lime. Cheers!
There’s 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 20-30 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.
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.
Yes! It will keep well in the freezer for at least four to six months.
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. The tortilla strips can be made earlier. Allow them to cool completely, and store in a plastic bag or container.
Storage and Reheating Suggestions
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 in a saucepan on the stove over medium heat until heated through, or in the microwave in one minute increments, stirring occasionally. If the soup is frozen, thaw it overnight in the fridge for best results.
More chicken soup!
- Slow Cooker Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup
- Chicken Tortellini Soup with Kale and Pesto
- Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- Creamy Chicken Enchilada Soup with Noodles
- Chicken Barley Soup with Kale and Butternut Squash
- 6 (5-6 – inch) corn tortillas, cut in half, and then into 1/4-inch wide strips
- Cooking spray, avocado or olive oil spray
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, avocado oil, or grapeseed oil
- 1 cup diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 2 jalapeño peppers, finely diced (about ⅓ 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
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 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 (2-3 chicken breasts)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup frozen corn
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- lime wedges, avocado, shredded cheese (Monterey jack or cheddar) for garnishing
- 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, and cumin; 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 12-14 minutes, stirring once, until golden brown and crispy. Check frequently to make sure they don’t burn.
- Remove chicken breasts from soup and add corn.
- Using two forks, shred chicken. Return to soup, continue to cook 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.
- Makes about 12 cups of soup. Nutritional information does ot include toppings.
- Instead of raw chicken, use 1-2 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.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.