Chicken Tortilla Soup With Salsa And Homemade Tortillas
Updated 23rd August 2023
Who can resist a hearty, smokey soup with just the right amount of heat that comes together quickly and tastes even better the next day. This chicken tortilla soup with homemade (or home fried) tortilla strips is that soup. It’s warming and you will be craving it once a week if not more. It’s great for a quick weeknight meal but also great for entertaining as well. You can make a double batch to feed a crowd and it’s a pretty budget friendly and delicious way to entertain too. Similar to my beef taco soup but made with chicken and the tortillas are meant to in the soup not just served with it.
Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe Ingredients:
- Chicken - I usually use shredded chicken breast or skinless chicken thighs in this recipe and for a quick version I will use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken that I shred with a fork or chop into bite-sized pieces
- Tortillas - I like to use corn tortillas or a blend of corn and flour or you can use all flour if you prefer
- Onion & garlic - feel free to use as much or as little according to taste
- Bell Peppers - use a variety for the soup or feel free to sub with poblano peppers for added flavour
- Chipotle Chile Peppers - in adobo sauce - I usually remove the seeds for less heat. I just added one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for flavor but feel free to add more if you prefer a spicier version
- Green Chiles - I used canned - feel free to sub these out for 1-2 chopped jalapeños
- Spices - I use a blend of oregano, cumin, coriander, paprika, chili powder or cayenne powder, bay leaves and a cinnamon stick - feel free to use more or less of the spices to taste or leave out the ones you may not prefer (or you can substitute the spices for a taco seasoning spice blend of choice - 1-2 tablespoons), plus salt (kosher salt or sea salt) and black pepper to taste
- Herbs - I love to garnish with fresh cilantro
- Black Beans - just one can of black beans drained and rinsed - a god source of protein and carbohydrates
- Corn - you can use canned, frozen or fresh for this recipe
- Broth/Stock - feel free to use chicken broth or vegetable broth
- Canned Diced Tomatoes - I like to use fire-roasted tomatoes if I can get my hands on some or regular canned diced tomatoes work too
- Optional Add Ins - Corn, extra veggies or greens
- For Garnish - sour cream, avocado salsa (recipe included below) fresh cilantro, crumbled cotija cheese or feta cheese, shredded cheese like Monterey jack cheese or Tex Mex blend, lime wedges, pickled red onions or pickled jalapeños
How to Make This Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
This soup is simple to make - here are the basic instructions with full recipe directions below. (This recipe is quick and easy as it uses pre-cooked shredded chicken but if you are looking for an instant pot or crock pot version check recipe notes below)
- Fry or Bake Tortillas (more on that below), set aside
- Sauté the veggies and spices and tomato paste
- Add broth and remaining ingredients simmer until veggies are tender
- Add shredded chicken (more chicken cooking options below)
- Stir in ½ of the crispy tortilla strips
- Serve with remaining extra crispy tortilla chips and shredded cheese, avocado salsa, sour cream, lime wedges or whatever toppings you like
Baking VS Frying Tortillas
The tortillas can be lightly fried or they can be done in the oven. I have had them both ways and I have to say I always have to stop myself from eating them all before the soup is done. I tend to make a double batch of them for snacking and for extra garnish because everyone always comes back for extra tortilla chips.
- Bake Them - To bake the tortilla chips spray strips of fresh tortillas with olive oil spray and a sprinkle of salt, and bake in a 300°F oven until crisp.
- Fry Them - In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
Options For Cooking the Chicken:
- Bake - Drizzle the chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Then sprinkle with a dash of salt and pepper and bake at 375°F in a preheated oven until the chicken is cooked all the way through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove it from the oven. Cut the chicken into cubes or strips and set aside until ready to add to the soup.
- Use Rotisserie - simply remove the skin from chicken and shred the chicken off the bone and set aside until you are ready to add to the soup - this is the quickest way to make this soup and the one I use the most because its also the easiest
- Cook In Soup - this is a very easy way to add the chicken to the soup - add the two breast raw into the soup along with the broth and ingredients, simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes then remove the chicken from broth and shred then add back to the soup and finishing off the recipe as stated below. (slow cooker and instant pot versions in recipe notes below)
Tortilla Soup Variations
Let’s talk about the meat options for this recipe. I love the fact that you can use leftover rotisserie chicken or possibly extra pieces you might have cooked from the weekend or from family dinner. Even if you make the chicken specifically for this recipe, you can prep the tortillas chips and the rest of the ingredients while it’s baking and the meal can still be done and ready in decent time. This recipe is completely delicious without the meat in it too. If you are going meatless I would suggest adding some extra corn or any extra veggies and beans and also making some extra chips to go with it and making sure you get your fair share of avocado salsa. You can also make it a two bean soup as well and add some chickpeas to it too. I have done that and it adds extra texture and definitely amps up the heartiness of it.
Storage and Freezing:
- STORAGE: Leftover chicken tortilla soup and be stored without toppings in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days
- FREEZING: You can store cooled chicken tortilla soup in an airtight container in the freezer for for up to 2 months. Thaw soup in the fridge overnight. Reheat soup by bringing it to a boil in a saucepan. If you are freezing I don’t recommend stirring in the tortilla strips until you have thawed and reheated the soup because the tortillas will change the texture of the soup when frozen and thawed.
Half the fun of this soup is all the toppings and fixings. Don’t skimp on them. They give the soup extra flavour and texture and I think they are necessary. If you don’t have time to make the salsa do add some avocado slices and a dollop of sour cream or a squeeze of fresh lime - you won’t regret it. Ok I think I have said way too much so enjoy this hearty, savoury, quick, simple, subtlety chipotle-spiced, super flavourful, fiber and protein packed soup!
More Mexican / Tex Mex Recipes You Will Love:
- Simple and Classic Pico De Gallo
- Simple Classic Guacamole
- Sheet Pan Nachos Supreme
- Weeknight Chili With Homemade Chili Paste
- Quick and Easy Green Chicken Chili
- Vegetarian Chipotle Chili
More Hearty Soup Recipes You Will Love:
For The Tortillas
- 6 tbsp cooking oil - I used avocado oil but any vegetable oil will do (reduce to 2 tbsp if you choose to bake your tortilla chips)
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into ¼-inch strips (cut them whole if you want longer strips)
For The Soup
- 1 large red onion or yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 large bell peppers - a variety of red, yellow, orange or green bell peppers, stems and seeds removed and diced
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 1½ teaspoons paprika
- 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, seeds removed and pepper chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed fire roasted tomatoes in thick purée
- 1 4-ounce can of green chilies
- 1 14-ounce can of black beans or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup corn (canned,frozen or fresh)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Salt and pepper to taste 2-3 cups of shredded cooked turkey or chicken - approx 2 skinless chicken breast or 4-6 skinless chicken thighs (or use cooked rotisserie Directions for both cooked or uncooked versions below)
- ¼ cup lightly-packed and chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnishing
- A squeeze of lime to serve along with the salsa and chips and some crumbled queso fresco, cotija or mild feta cheese
For The Tortillas
- In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add half the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining tortilla strips and set aside and try not to eat them all before the soup is made.
For The Soup
- Reduce the heat to medium heat. Add the onion, peppers and stir to cook vegetables until they start to soften and turn golden approx 5 minutes.
- Then add the garlic, spices and chipotle pepper and cook, stirring, until very fragrant approx 1-2 minutes.
- Then add the tomato paste and stir and cook it for a minute and then add the broth, tomatoes, green chilies, black beans, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, salt, and cilantro leaves, if using along with the shredded chicken (or the uncooked chicken breasts)
- Bring to a simmer. Cook, with lid off for 20-25 minutes. (remove the chicken breasts from pot, shred and return to pot)
- Before serving remove the bay leaves and cinnamon and stick, stir in ⅓ - ⅔ of the tortilla chips.
- Ladle the soup into bowls then top with more of the crispy tortilla strips/chips and the salsa and cheese and more cilantro. The more toppings the merrier. Feel free to use any cheese and even sour cream and hot sauce for more heat.
- STORAGE: Leftover chicken tortilla soup and be stored without toppings in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days
- FREEZING: You can store cooled chicken tortilla soup in an airtight container in the freezer for for up to 2 months. Thaw soup in the fridge overnight. Reheat soup by bringing it to a boil in a saucepan.
- I know it seems like a waste to buy a small can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce just for 1 of them but if you do decide to include them, what helps is I usually jar the rest of the peppers and sauce and they last refrigerated for at least a month if not more - if you remember they are in there that is. But you can also blend and portion them out in tsp full size and freeze them for when you want to add some heat to a sauce or if and when you decide to make his soup again - which I know will be soon after you make it
- The crispy tortilla strips in the soup soften and sort of melts into it and naturally thickens the soup - you almost get like dumpling like strips of tortillas - I understand texturally that might not be everyone’s jam. Adding them into the soup is actually optional - you can save them all for topping the soup with when serving
- Slow cooker - crock pot chicken tortilla soup version: For this version you will cook the chicken otherwise it’s just easier to make stoves top with precooked chicken. Place 1½ lbs of chicken breast into crockpot along with the rest of the soup ingredients except the beans and corn, cilantro and lime. Cook on low for 6 hours.Remove chicken and shred. Add back to slow cooker.Add black beans and frozen corn and let cook until heated.
- Pressure cooker - Instant pot chicken tortilla soup version: For this version you will cook the chicken otherwise it’s just easier to make stoves top with precooked chicken. Place 1½ lbs of chicken breast into instant pot along with the rest of the soup ingredients except the beans and corn, cilantro and lime. Place the lid on, lock it, and pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes (do not use the quick release for 10 minutes). Then quick release the rest. When the pot has depressurized, take lid off and remove the chicken and shred. Return the chicken to the pot, and set to saute. Add black beans and frozen corn and let cook until heated.
For the Avocado Salsa
- 1 ripe Haas avocado
- 1 plum tomato
- ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 green onion
- 2 tbsp (25 ml) chopped fresh coriander
- 2 tsp (10 ml) lime juice
- ¼ tsp (1 ml) salt
- To make salsa, cut avocado in half lengthwise; open and discard pit.
- Using a blunt knife, score avocado into small cubes right down to leathery skin.
- Scoop diced avocado into a bowl.
- Seed and dice tomato and jalapeño; add to bowl.
- Thinly slice green onions; add along with coriander, lime juice and salt.
- Stir until well mixed. Set aside