Chicken Tortilla Soup is a little spicy, loaded with protein, and held together in a rich tomato broth. It really has it all! This Mexican soup takes just about 10 minutes to prep – after that, it cooks low and slow to really develop all of those bold flavors.
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Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorite soups to make for myself and the kids! It might be made from scratch but it’s very simple. The whole soup takes about three hours to come together and most of that time is to slow-cook the chicken broth.
To save some time, the chicken and broth can actually be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for about a day. Make sure to cover it air-tight with a lid. I actually like to prepare a large amount of this soup and freeze half of it. Chicken tortilla soup freezes perfectly and wonderful to have in the freezer for busy times!
This soup recipes features tender bites of shredded chicken, black beans, corn, onions and garlic all served in the most flavorful tomato broth. What really sets the broth a step above other recipes is that it’s made with seasoned water that the chicken was cooked in. Essentially, it’s a quick and easy homemade chicken stock that really enriches every drop!
Chicken Breasts – Boneless skinless chicken breasts are my favorite to use. They’re so easy to shred and cook perfectly with this low and slow method. If you’d rather have dark meat, use chicken thighs instead, just discard the skin and bones once cooked.
Black Beans – Make sure to drain the beans before using them.
Corn – Just like the beans, you’ll want to thoroughly drain the can of corn before using it.
Tomato sauce – make sure to use tomato sauce not tomato paste, those are quite different.
Lime Juice – Freshly squeezed yields the best flavor.
Seasoning – salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and paprika. Use a little more or less of red pepper flakes and chili powder to control the amount of heat in this recipe.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
How to Make Chicken Tortilla Soup
Cook the chicken. Combine water, chicken, bay leaves, peppercorns and coriander in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 hours (1). Stir occasionally.
Strain. Set both the chicken and stock aside for now. Strain the stock (2) and discard of the bay leaves and coriander. Once it’s cool enough to handle, shred or dice the chicken.
Sauté the veggies. Heat a pot over medium heat and add onions. Sauté until transparent, then add the tomatoes and cook them for 2-3 minutes (3). Add the garlic and mix well (4). Add the corn and beans and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add more ingredients. Stir in the cooked chicken. Then, mix in the broth, tomato sauce and seasoning (5, 6).
Cook the soup. Bring to a boil. Then, lower the heat to medium-low or low. Cook for about 45 minutes and stir occasionally (7).
Enjoy! Stir in some freshly squeezed lime juice just before the soup is done (8). Mix well.
There are so many delicious options! Some of my favorites include tortilla strips, green onions, sour cream, fresh avocado, shredded Mexican cheese mix, jalapeños and an extra squeeze of lime juice.
This soup is already pretty mild, but you can always add more spice if you wish! You can add some diced jalapeños with the onions and tomatoes and choose to discard or keep the seeds. For more spice, you can use spicier chili peppers.
Of course, if you’d rather use chicken thigh meat, go for it. Dark chicken meat is much juicier and more flavorful than chicken breast meat. You can also use a combination of both if you’d like.
Absolutely! You can stir in 1/3-1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream into the soup a couple of minutes before it’s done to make it creamy. You can also stir in some sour cream if you’d like.
Always remember to cool the soup to room temperature before storing it and always keep it in the refrigerator. You can store tortilla soup in the the ordinal cooking pot, as long as it has an airtight lid. If not, transfer the soup into an airtight food storage container.
Properly stored, it should be good for 3-4 days. Remember to use a clean ladle to get soup out each time.
Before freezing, it’s best to cool the soup as quickly as possible. The faster it cools and freezes, the less chance for developing bacteria, which affects the shelf life. The best way to cool any soup is to place the pot into a larger container filled with ice. To help it cool faster and evenly, make sure to stir it from time to time as it cools.
Once it’s cooled, you can divide chicken tortilla soup among two or more freezer bags. Get all the air out and close completely. Label the bag with date and name. Place the bags flat on a cutting board and place it in the freezer. Using a cutting board will help keep bags flat and straight as the soup freezes.
Once the soup is frozen, you can remove the cutting board and stack the bags.
When ready to thaw, make sure to pull the frozen soup out of the freezer and into the refrigerator. Slow-thaw it overnight or for up to 24 hours. Reheat in the pot over medium heat until starts to simmer.
To read more about freezing and see step-by-step photos, see this post about freezing.
More Chicken Soup Recipes
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Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- 1 lb chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 9 cups water it will cook down to about 7-8 cups of stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 15 oz can of corn drained
- 15 oz can black beans drained (if using dry, make sure to wash and soak them first)
- 3 garlic cloves
- cooked chicken from above shredded
- 7-8 cups cooked broth
- 8 oz tomato sauce
- 2 tsp chili powder to taste
- 2 tsp dried cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes to taste
- salt to taste
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- Monterrey Jack cheese
- Sour cream
- Green Onion
- Tortilla strips
- In a large pot, combine water, chicken, bay leaves peppercorns, and coriander. Bring to boil and lower heat to low. Cook for about 2 hours on low heat. Stir occasionally.
- Set the chicken and the broth aside for now. Strain out and discard the bay leaves and coriander. Shred or dice the chicken once it's cooled enough to handle.
- Preheat medium pot over medium heat and add onion. Saute until transparent.
- Add tomatoes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced (or pressed) garlic, mix well.
- Add corn and beans. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add cooked chicken and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add broth, tomato sauce, and seasoning. Bring to boil and lower heat to medium-low to low. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If using dry black beans, cook on low until beans are soft.)
- Stir in lime juice just before soup is done and mix well.
- Serve with the toppings of your choice.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in May 2017.