Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Why We Love This Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
Chicken tortilla soup combines tender chicken cooked in a tomato-based broth with bold spices and creamy cheese for a super comforting meal! Often, tortilla soup is made with tortilla chips in the broth to make it nice and thick, and it topped off with more for a nice crunch.
Everyone has their own version of chicken tortilla soup that they prefer. Some are thick like gravy. Some are thin and watery.
I prefer a thin, but not watery, broth-based chicken tortilla soup with lots of veggies and toppings.
Today’s Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe is exactly how I like it. Rich, zesty, and ultra comforting, with a slightly spicy finish.
Our Most-Requested Dish… Tortilla Soup
I developed this easy chicken tortilla soup recipe years ago and would venture to say it is my most requested recipe, both with personal friends and blog readers. I email the link to this recipe constantly!
Why is it so popular?
Our authentic chicken tortilla soup is chunky, perfectly spiced, and so quick to make.
The deep rich essence of the broth comes from sautéing the onions, garlic, and cilantro to release their flavor, before adding the broth and spices.
Cheese is also very important in this recipe for tortilla soup… Cheese and crushed tortilla chips are added at the end to thicken the soup base and give it a comforting luxurious feel.
There is so much depth and flavor in each bowl of soup, this will quickly become a family favorite!
Ingredients You Need
What will you need to make this zesty Mexican soup? It only requires 15 simple ingredients… 10 of which are pantry staples!
- Olive oil – To sauté the veggies.
- Onion – The beginning of every great soup recipe.
- Cilantro – If you don’t love raw cilantro, you may still enjoy this soup, because the cilantro is well-cooked.
- Garlic – Fresh is best!
- Chicken broth – Use your favorite brand. If using low sodium chicken broth, add salt to taste.
- Diced tomatoes – Look for a brand of canned tomatoes that offers “fired roasted” for extra flavor.
- Chicken breasts – Cook them whole, right in the broth.
- Ground cumin – For deep smoky essence.
- Chili powder – Or pure ground chiles.
- Cayenne pepper – For a little kick!
- Bay leaves – For a deep herbaceous note.
- Carrots – If the skins aren’t rough and fuzzy, there’s no need to peel the carrots.
- Monterey jack cheese – To thicken the soup and to add as a garnish.
- Avocados – The perfect creamy topper.
- Bag of tortilla chips – To thicken the soup and to add as a crunchy topping!
How To Make The Chicken Tortilla Soup
In a large stock pot, add the onions, cilantro, and garlic. Sauté to soften, about 3 minutes.
Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, whole raw chicken breasts, spices, and salt. Push the chicken breasts to the bottom of the pot and bring to a boil.
Add the carrots, and simmer until the carrots and chicken breasts are cooked through.
Get the Full (Printable) Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe Below!
Shred the chicken or dice it into bite-sized pieces, then return the shredded chicken to the pot.
Stir in half of the cheese cheese and 1 cup crushed tortilla chips to thicken the broth. If too much liquid has evaporated, add another cup of water or broth.
Ladle into bowls. Top each bowl with more cheese, fresh cilantro, fresh avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and crispy tortilla strips!
Tips & Tricks
- Don’t overcook the chicken! Make sure to only cook the chicken breast until it reaches 165 F. Otherwise, it might get tough. Alternatively, you can use chicken thighs which will add more fat to the soup and are less likely to overcook.
- Add different veggies! You can make this chicken tortilla soup your own by adding or omitting ingredients are you see fit. Try adding corn, black beans, or even some canned green chiles!
- For more spice, serve with some fresh jalapeño slices!
Our best tortilla soup can be eaten as is, or with a ton of flavorful toppings! I like to top each bowl of soup with:
- Extra shredded cheese
- More tortilla chips
- Chopped cilantro
- Fresh chopped avocado
- Sour Cream
- Lime wedges
To make it a full meal, a fresh Mexican-inspired salad would be a good idea! You can also pair it with chips, homemade salsa, and guacamole. And don’t forget to pair it with some fresh homemade flour tortillas!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use leftover chicken in this soup?
Many of you have asked if you can use leftover chicken in this recipe… Absolutely! Just shred the chicken and add it in at the end to warm it.
How can I thicken my chicken tortilla soup?
If you want your homemade chicken tortilla soup to be thicker, you can throw in a cornstarch slurry! Mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and whisk to combine. Then add it to the soup and allow to simmer for about 3 minutes to thicken up. If you want it even thicker, do it one more time!
Can I freeze this tortilla soup?
Yes. Just be sure to thaw it at room temperature before reheating, to protect the veggies from turning to mush.
How long does chicken soup last in the refrigerator?
Usually about 1 week. Place it in an airtight container and set it in the back of the refrigerator.
Can I skip the cheese?
Yes. The broth will not be as thick and rich, but you will end up with a lighter leaner soup.
Can I take out the cilantro?
Yes and no. Yes, you can take out any ingredient, but NO it will not taste the same. I will say, that I have served this easy chicken tortilla soup recipe to several cilantro haters, and they loved it.
They say the elusive “soapy” taste is removed through the cooking process. Just be sure to leave the fresh cilantro off at the end. Alternatively, you can use dry cilantro!
Can I make a low-carb tortilla soup variation?
Yes. Just remove the tortilla chips for a spicy chicken soup!
Can I make tortilla soup in the Instant Pot?
Absolutely! Find the instructions in the recipe notes below.
Can I make chicken soup in the crock pot?
Want to make Chicken Tortilla Soup in the Crock-Pot? Try our simple Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe!
Looking for More Mexican-Inspired Soup Recipes?
We’ve got you covered…
- Skinny Chicken Fajita Soup Recipe
- Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe
- 5-Ingredient Cheesy Chicken Chili Recipe
- Paleo Chicken Chili Verde Recipe
- Southwest Detox Soup Recipe
Best Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
- 2/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4+ cups chicken broth
- 14.5 ounce diced “fire roasted” tomatoes (canned)
- 2 whole skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 carrots, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1-2 avocados, diced
- 10 ounce Bag of tortilla chips
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add onions, 1/3 cup cilantro, and garlic. Sauté 3 minutes.
- Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, whole raw chicken breasts, all the spices, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Push the chicken breasts to the bottom of the pot. Bring to a boil.
- Add the carrots. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook another 10-12 minutes.
- Remove the cooked chicken breasts with tongs and either shred or chop them. Add the chicken pieces back to the soup.
- Stir in half the cheese and 1 cup crushed tortilla chips. If too much of the broth has evaporated, stir in an additional cup of broth or water.
- Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining cheese, fresh cilantro, fresh avocado, and more tortilla chip pieces.
- Set the IP on Sauté. Add the oil, onions, 1/3 cup cilantro, and garlic. Sauté 3 minutes.
- Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, whole raw chicken breasts, carrots, all spices, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Push the chicken breasts to the bottom of the pot. Lock the lid into place and set on Pressure Cook High for 5 minutes.
- Perform a Quick Release. Once the steam valve button drops it’s safe to open the lid.
- Remove the cooked chicken breasts with tongs and either shred or chop them. Add the chicken pieces back to the soup. Stir in half the cheese and 1 cup crushed tortilla chips.
- Garnish as directed above.