Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Chicken tortilla soup from scratch on the stovetop in just 40 minutes! Tender sauteed chicken breast shredded and combined with bold seasonings, spicy chilis, fire-roasted tomatoes, and corn tortillas to create a hearty and satisfying dish.

top down photo of white bowl with chicken tortilla soup

Better than restaurant quality

This chicken tortilla soup recipe is infused with a bunch of Mexican-inspired flavors and a few extra common pantry ingredients. No-fuss here, just saute the chicken and simmer everything in a big pot. The authentic taste of this smokey tomato-based soup shines through with each spoonful.

What makes this recipe lip-smackingly good is the combination of earthy spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika, fresh and dried chilis, and charred tomatoes. The shredded chicken, vegetables, beans, and strip of corn tortillas simmer in the aromatic base.

In just 15 minutes, the soup becomes slightly thickened and packed with savory and spicy notes. Customize each bowl with colorful, creamy, and crunchy toppings for a delectable experience.

chicken tortilla soup simmering in a dutch oven

How to make chicken tortilla soup

  • Saute the chicken breasts in a pan to add more flavor and texture.
  • Boost the flavor of the dried spices by blooming in olive oil and cooking with onions and garlic.
  • Canned chipotle peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, and chopped jalapenos add smokiness and heat.
  • Thicken the soup with tomato paste and corn tortillas.
  • Simmer shredded chicken, vegetables, chilis, and tortillas in the chicken stock until slightly thickened.

You’ll be amazed at how quickly the flavors develop in the pot. I highly recommend browning the chicken before shredding. However, if you’re pinched for time, cutting up a rotisserie chicken works nicely as well.

spoon mixing spices and onions being cooked in a pot

What’s your spice tolerance?

The level of spiciness can be adjusted by adding one or two more tablespoons of chopped chipotle peppers. Start off with a small amount, taste, then add more to allow the heat to build. I originally added double the amount and found that adding a little sour cream tamed the spice. For my brave chili lovers, increase the spiciness to your liking!

Thickening the soup

This chicken tortilla soup recipe is thickened in two ways, using some concentrated tomato paste and adding in corn tortillas into the chicken stock. The paste contains a high amount of tomato solids, which increases the viscosity of the liquid. I use it to instantly thicken up tomato sauce for dishes like spaghetti and meatballs.

The main contributor to thickening is thinly sliced tortillas. By cutting them into smaller pieces, it allows the stock to quickly absorb and soften the tortillas as it cooks. You’ll notice that after 15 minutes of simmering, most of the tortillas have broken up into the soup, naturally adding body and richness from the starches in the corn.

tortilla strips being mixed into mexican chicken soup

Easy to make and customize

This soup is a family favorite that I enjoy serving alongside taco night, or on more chilly evenings. The extra pieces of corn, bell pepper, and black beans provide extra fiber and protein to each serving. The great thing about the recipe is that it doesn’t require much effort to make or compromise on taste. All of the authentic flavors of a great chicken tortilla soup are created in one big pot.

I like to serve the soup with a lot of different toppings. Fresh cilantro, sliced jalapeno peppers, diced avocado, sour cream, radish, green onions, and crispy fried tortilla chips add vibrant colors and interesting textures to each bowl. I can’t wait to hear what you think and what toppings you add in the comments section below!

chicken soup topped with tortillas, sour cream, and jalapeños

More Soup recipes

Ways to ensure juicy and tender chicken

Chicken breasts can be prone to drying out when cooking as lean meat contains less fat. To minimize moisture loss a few techniques can be used. Flatten to an even thickness so the heat from the pan can distribute at the same rate. Add to a preheated pan with hot oil, and cook over a consistent medium heat so that it doesn’t overcook. Chicken can also benefit from brining to increase moisture retention before cooking.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup on the stovetop in just minutes! Shredded white meat, bold seasonings, spicy chilis, fire roasted tomatoes, and corn tortillas.
Pin Print Review
4.05 from 527 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, pounded to ¾-inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked, plus more as needed for seasoning
  • black pepper, as needed for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup chopped white onion, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chilis in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapenos
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ¾ cup chopped red bell pepper, ¼-inch dice
  • 1 cup corn kernels, fresh, canned or frozen
  • 1 cup black beans, canned, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 ounce canned diced fire roasted tomatoes, plus juice
  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 cup sliced corn tortilla strips, ¼-inch thick, 2-inch long strips
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish

Instructions 

  • Lightly season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Heat large saute pan or dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, once hot cook the chicken on one side until lightly browned on the surface, 6 to 7 minutes.
  • Flip and cook on the other side until the internal temperature reaches 160°F (71°C), about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken to a clean plate and shred into smaller pieces once cooled, reserve.
  • In the same pot heat over medium heat, add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add in the onions and garlic, saute for 1 minute.
  • Add in the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and 1 teaspoon paprika, continuously stirring for 30 seconds.
  • Add chopped chipotle chilis and jalapenos, saute for 1 minute.
  • Add in tomato paste and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add in bell pepper and corn, saute for 1 minute.
  • Add in the black beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, chicken stock, oregano, salt, 1 cup tortilla strips, and shredded chicken, stir to combine.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cook until tortillas are softened about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice and cilantro leaves, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Serve the soup with desired toppings.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Topping Suggestions: Chips or homemade fried tortilla strips, sour cream, sliced jalapenos, lime wedges, green onions, avocado, radish.
  • Make it Spicy: Add 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, more if you like it really hot!
  • Make it Faster: Precooked shredded meat like roasted, grilled, or baked chicken can be used to cut down on preparation time. Use 3 cups of shredded chicken.
  • Homemade Crunchy Tortilla Strips: Cut corn tortilla strips into 1/4-inch thick, 2-inch long pieces. Heat 1/2-cup vegetable oil in a small saute pan (about 6-inch diameter). Heat oil to 350-375°F, fry tortillas in batches until crispy, about 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer strips to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain excess oil and salt strips.

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Nutrition Facts
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 304 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Cholesterol 72mg24%
Sodium 830mg35%
Potassium 910mg26%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 1385IU28%
Vitamin C 30.1mg36%
Calcium 55mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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101 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Rachel B. says

    Oh my. Soooo delicious. A new family favorite! I followed the recipe exactly besides the following: I didn’t have any of the chipotle chiles, I used a jar of pickled jalapeños rather than fresh, & a box of chicken broth plus one cup of water (rather than 5 cups of cb). For toppings I did crispy fried corn tortillas, scallions, cilantro, cheddar, sour cream, chopped pickled jalepeno (my son can’t get enough), & avocado. This was my first tortilla soup & I was thrilled that my six & nine-year-old loved it as much as my husband & I did.

  2. Brandy Johnson says

    Made this today 3/19/21 … substituted Leftover Turkey as that is what protein I was trying to repurpose and it was great . The spices and ease of Recipe was nice .. thanks … this is a keeper !

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