This 40-minute easy chicken tortilla soup is loaded with shredded chicken, beans, tomato, and corn topped off with crispy tortilla strips for a comforting, flavorful, filling, protein- & nutrient-dense meal any day of the week!
Simple yet flavor-packed one-pot meals are a perfect dinner go-to on busy (or lazy) weeknights. And with options like one-pot chicken and rice, creamy mushroom chicken, and hamburger casserole – you’re not stuck for choices. This time, though, we’re moving South for this easy Mexican-inspired chicken tortilla soup!
Relying on simple, healthy ingredients, like tomatoes, corn, black beans, and jalapeno, this makes the best chicken tortilla soup recipe with restaurant-quality flavor. All in under 40 minutes with very little effort and plenty of opportunity for adaptation. You don’t even have to pre-cook the chicken breasts – just chuck them in the broth to simmer.
It’s cozy, comforting, filling, packed with protein and fiber, and sure to satisfy Mexican food cravings when you want extra comfort and coziness. It even stores, freezes, and reheats well and can be made on the stovetop or in a crockpot! It tastes even better on day two – so make plenty of leftovers!
Chicken Tortilla Soup Ingredients
- Chicken: It’s best to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I cook mine directly into the soup, but you could also use leftover cooked chicken if preferred. Chicken thighs will also work but take longer to cook.
- Oil: Use any neutral cooking oil like vegetable oil, canola, olive oil, avocado oil, etc.
- Chicken stock: Use a high-quality, rich chicken stock (regular or reduced sodium) or chicken broth.
- Aromatics: Garlic and onion (yellow/red) are used to create a flavorful soup base.
- Black beans: Or kidney beans/pinto beans. I used canned reduced-sodium beans, but home-cooked beans will work, too.
- Corn: Use canned or frozen corn.
- Tomatoes: You’ll need a can of diced or crushed tomatoes. Optionally, fire-roasted tomatoes are great for extra smoky flavor/depth.
- Jalapeño: To add some spice to the soup, adjust the amount or even use a milder/hotter chili if preferred. A can of mild diced green chiles would also work.
- Taco seasoning: Use a store-bought or homemade taco seasoning blend. You may also need extra salt and black pepper to season at the end.
- Fresh cilantro: To add a subtle burst of freshness to the Southwest soup. Use flat-leaf parsley if you aren’t a fan of cilantro.
- Tortillas: You’ll need small corn tortillas – though flour tortillas will work in a pinch (but won’t become as crispy). Alternatively, use crushed tortilla chips.
Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings
- Lime wedges,
- Avocado – diced or sliced,
- Shredded cheese – cheddar cheese or pepper jack/crumbled cotija,
- Sour cream, yogurt, or crema,
- Jalapeño – thinly sliced,
- Crispy tortilla strips,
- Fresh salsa – like Pico de Gallo,
- Diced tomatoes,
- Grilled corn,
- Black olives,
- Pickled red onions or jalapeños,
- Chipotle sauce or sriracha – adds more heat.
Can I Make It with Cooked or Shredded Chicken?
Absolutely. In that case, add the taco seasoning with the aromatics to bloom the spices. Then add the shredded chicken (leftover or store-bought rotisserie chicken) to the soup.
How to Make Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Prep the Ingredients
First, finely dice the onion and jalapeno (remove the ribs and seeds) and mince the garlic and cilantro. Also, drain the corn (if canned) and black beans.
Make the Soup
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Once hot, add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic, and sauté for 2-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
Add the chicken and taco seasoning to the pan, searing it for 1-2 minutes per side, then add the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes and stir.
Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through (often 25 minutes for larger chicken breasts).
Then, remove the chicken breasts from the soup and use two forks or a stand mixer to shred it and return it to the pot.
Add the corn, beans, and cilantro, and stir to combine, then continue to simmer for just a few minutes to warm all the ingredients.
Before serving, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings (taco seasoning or adding extra salt and black pepper).
Prepare the Homemade Tortilla Strips
Meanwhile, while the soup simmers, prepare the crispy tortilla topping by cutting the tortillas into ¼-inch wide strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
To fry the strips: Add an inch of oil to a wide, large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat (about 350ºF/175ºC). Once hot, fry the tortilla strips in batches of a couple handfuls for 1-2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to set them aside to drain on a paper towel.
To test if the pan is hot enough without a thermometer, carefully add a single drop of water to the oil. It should sizzle/sputter immediately but NOT be smoking.
To bake the strips: Brush or spray the tortilla strips with olive oil and spread them across a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated oven at 400ºF/200ºC for 10-16 minutes, flipping/tossing them once at 6-7 minutes.
Optionally salt them while warm, then leave them to cool, as they’ll crisp up further as they do. Then, finally, serve the chicken tortilla soup in bowls topped with the tortilla strips and your choice of toppings, and enjoy!
For Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
First, complete the sauté and searing steps in a skillet, throw everything into the slow cooker, stir, and cook over LOW heat for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 3-4 hours. Add the cilantro at the end, then taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish, and enjoy!
What Goes with Chicken Tortilla Soup?
Although you can easily enjoy a portion of this hearty soup alone, turn it into a more well-rounded, heartier meal with the addition of:
- Cornbread, crusty bread, or garlic bread,
- Regular fries or wedges or sweet potato fries,
- A baked potato or sweet potato,
- A grilled cheese,
- Mexican-style street corn (elote),
- Rice and beans, cilantro lime rice, or Spanish/Mexican rice,
- A light leafy green side salad with vinaigrette.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions
Make ahead: You can prep this soup in several ways – the entire dish (it’ll taste even better on day two!) or prepping individual elements. The crispy tortilla strips, for example, can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days. Other soup toppings can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. You can also use pre-cooked chicken.
To refrigerate: Allow the chicken tortilla soup to cool and then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To freeze: Spread it in portions (so you only need to thaw how much you require) in freezer-safe containers, silicone muffin liners/trays, or Ziplock bags (spread flat) for up to 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using/reheating it.
To Reheat: You can reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in a microwave (2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds) until piping hot.
More Soup Recipes
- Homemade Cream of Chicken Soup
- Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- Instant Pot Vegetable Soup
- Vegetarian Broccoli Cheddar Soup
If you try this easy chicken tortilla soup recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 20 oz chicken breast 3 medium, boneless, skinless
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes 2 cans (14 oz each) or 3 cups; use fire-roasted for a smokier flavor
- 8 oz corn 1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen
- 8 oz black beans 1 can, rinsed & drained; OR kidney beans/pinto beans
- 3 cups chicken stock regular or reduced sodium
- 5.2 oz onion 1 medium (1 cup chopped) – red or yellow
- 0.5 oz garlic 3 cloves
- 1 tablespoon taco seasoning spice
- 1/3 cup cilantro chopped, or flat-leaf parsley
- 0.6 oz jalapeño 1 medium
- 5 corn tortillas plus oil for frying or baking
- Finely dice the onion and jalapeno (remove the ribs and seeds). Mince the garlic and cilantro. Frain the corn (if canned) and black beans.
Make the soup
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Once hot, add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic, and sauté for 2-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add the chicken and taco seasoning to the pan, searing it for 1-2 minutes per side. Add the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes and stir.
- Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken has cooked through (often 25 minutes for larger chicken breasts).
- Remove the chicken breasts from the soup and use two forks or a stand mixer to shred it and return it to the pot.
- Add the corn, beans, and cilantro, and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for just a few minutes to warm all the ingredients.
- Before serving, taste the soup and adjust the seasonings (taco seasoning or adding extra salt and black pepper).
Prepare the tortilla strips
- Meanwhile, while the soup simmers, prepare the crispy tortilla topping by cutting the tortillas into ¼-inch wide strips with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Cook them in your preferred method.
- To fry the strips: Add an inch of oil to a wide, large saucepan and heat over medium-high heat (about 350ºF/175ºC). Once hot, fry the tortilla strips in batches of a couple handfuls for 1-2 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to set them aside to drain on a paper towel.To test if the pan is hot enough without a thermometer, carefully add a single drop of water to the oil. It should sizzle/sputter immediately but NOT be smoking.To bake the strips: Brush or spray the tortilla strips with olive oil and spread them across a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a preheated oven at 400ºF/200ºC for 10-16 minutes, flipping/tossing them once at 6-7 minutes.
- Optionally salt them while warm, then leave them to cool & they'll crisp up further as they do. Finally, serve the soup topped with the tortilla strips and your choice of toppings, and enjoy!
- Sear the chicken: This will lightly caramelize the meat and enhance its flavor.
- To check the chicken is cooked: Use a meat thermometer if you have one. To be safely cooked, the interior of the chicken should reach 165ºF/74ºC.
- The cooking time may vary: Based on the thickness/size of the chicken, so it’s best to double-check with a meat thermometer. You could also choose to simmer the soup for longer (up to 45 minutes) to allow the flavors to meld more. If doing so, I prefer to remove the chicken once cooked and add it again, shredded, towards the end.
- Season to taste: Based on the stock, tomatoes, and taco seasoning you use, you may want to add more salt to taste (at the end).
- Create a toppings bar: A toppings bar is ideal for serving a crowd. Set up dishes with all your favorite toppings and allow friends/family to customize their soup.
- Extra veggies: Finely diced or sliced carrot, zucchini, or bell pepper.
- Extra spices: Boost certain flavor profiles more with individual spices like smoked paprika, chili powder/cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, etc.
- Chipotle in adobo sauce: For a smoky, spicy addition.
- Tomato paste: For a richer, more concentrated tomato flavor.
- Cream cheese: For a creamier tortilla soup, add some of your favorite plain cream cheese (full-fat or reduced) to taste.
- Grains: Adding about ½ cup of cooked rice or quinoa helps to make a hearty meal.
- Lemon or lime juice: Just a little added before serving really brightens and enhances the flavors.
- Vegetarian tortilla soup: Use vegetable stock and replace the chicken with more beans/veggies or shredded jackfruit/vegetarian chick’n.