Chicken Tortilla Soup is made with tender chicken, crispy tortilla strips, veggies, and herbs in a deliciously spiced broth. An easy, healthy soup that combines so many fresh Mexican flavours!
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Making chicken tortilla soup from scratch is a very easy one pot meal. The slightly charred crunchy tortilla along with the sweetness of the corn, combined with the tender juicy chicken and black beans. All of this is seasoned with smoked paprika or chili in adobo, chili powder, cumin, and a hint of cayenne.
Chicken tortilla soup recipe is a great dinner idea on a busy weekday and even better as leftovers the next day. Whether you serve this healthy soup recipe on its own or with a side of Mexican street corn salad, the anticipation of that first spoonful is something you will look forward to again and again!
Ingredients for Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Tortillas: Corn tortillas, cut into thin strips – corn tortillas are thicker and heartier than wheat tortillas. Usually smaller as well.
- Chicken: Can use either boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs.
- Dry seasonings: Smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt, cayenne.
- Liquids: Oil. Whatever cooking oil you have on hand. Olive oil is always a good choice. Low sodium chicken broth, low sodium tomato sauce.
- Garlic: Minced.
- Veggies and legumes: Fresh or frozen corn. Low sodium black beans, rinsed and drained.
- Optional garnish: Fresh cilantro, lime, red onion, and avocado.
How to Make Chicken Tortilla Soup
If you have a pressure cooker, follow Instant Pot chicken tortilla soup instead.
- Prep: Preheat
- Add: Remaining oil and minced garlic to saute. Stir frequently.
- Cook: Add chicken, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt, and cayenne to the pot and cook until slightly brown. Stir a few times.
- Boil: Pour broth, tomato sauce, corn, and black beans into the pot. Stir, then cover and bring to a boil.
- Simmer: Reduce heat and simmer to allow the flavours to blend nicely.
- Shred: Remove chicken onto a plate to shred with two forks. Chicken should be nice and tender and fall apart easily. Return the shredded chicken back to the pot.
- Serve: Stir to combine and serve hot with optional garnishes.
Tips and Variations
- Heat and smokiness: Instead of smoked paprika and cayenne you can use 2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce. Although this is a spicy soup you can always adjust your seasonings to your taste preferences.
- Chicken: Any part of the chicken works! Chicken thighs and breasts are great and boneless is more convenient.
- Black beans: Substitute pinto beans instead!
- Corn: I use frozen corn, no need to thaw. Canned works as well. If you’re taking niblets right off the cob, try roasting your corn first. The charred smokiness from the roasted corn will add another layer of flavour.
- Tomato sauce: Passata or crushed tomatoes will work. It’s generally the same as tomato sauce. You can also use diced tomatoes pulsed in a blender. Rotel might be something else to try!
- Broth: If you don’t have any chicken broth, feel free to use water and more spices to taste. I have done this many times.
- Best tortillas: I recommend using corn tortillas rather than wheat! You can also use tortilla chips, crushed right in the soup to thicken it, or a basket of whole chips on the side for munching and dipping (or make loaded air fryer nachos, yum!).
Storing, Freezing and Reheating
Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container or right in the pot for up to 5 days.
Freeze: Freeze in a glass container or resealable silicone bags leaving room for expansion for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 6 hours.
Reheat: Reheat by simmering on low heat on the stovetop.
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Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 9 corn tortillas cut into thin strips
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 lbs chicken breasts or thighs boneless & skinless
- 2 tbsp oil divided
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- Pinch of cayenne
- 5 cups chicken broth low sodium
- 2 x 14 oz cans tomato sauce low sodium
- 2 cups corn fresh or frozen
- 14 oz can low sodium black beans rinsed & drained
- Cilantro lime, red onion and avocado, for garnish
- Preheat 6 quart Dutch oven or large pot on medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp oil to coat. Add tortilla strips and cook until golden brown, stirring often. Remove onto a plate and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp oil and garlic, saute for 30 seconds, stirring frequently.
- Add chicken, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned a bit, stirring a few times.
- Add broth, tomato sauce, corn and black beans. Stir, cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Open the lid, remove chicken onto a plate, shred with 2 forks and return back to the pot.
- Stir and serve hot with tortilla strips and garnishes.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container or right in the pot for up to 5 days. Reheat by simmering on low heat in a small stove pot. Shouldn’t take more than 5-7 minutes.
- Freeze: Freeze in a glass container or resealable silicone bags leaving room for expansion for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight or on the counter for 6 hours.
- Heat and smokiness: Instead of smoked paprika + cayenne pepper, you can use 2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce.
- Chicken: Chicken breast, thighs or any part of chicken works.
- Black beans: Pinto beans would work too.
- Corn: I use frozen corn and no need to thaw. Canned works too.
- Tomato sauce: Passata or crushed tomatoes will work. It is the same tomato sauce with a different name based on your location. Or pulse diced tomatoes in a blender.
- Broth: Use water and maybe more spices to taste. Done it many times.
- Tortillas: I recommend to use corn tortillas rather than wheat. Also you can use tortilla chips – crushed to thicken the soup and whole for serving.