Chicken Tortilla Soup

By Sally Cameron on January 21, 2013

Chicken & Turkey, Gluten-Free, Soups, Stews & Chilies, the daniel plan

Here’s one of my favorite ways to use leftover chicken: Chicken tortilla soup. This south-of-the-border style soup turns leftover shredded chicken into a healthy and flavor-filled new dish. I’ll roast a whole chicken for dinner one night, then use leftovers for this soup. It’s a delicious as well as time-saving strategy.

chicken tortilla soup |

Chicken Tortilla Soup – Great Use For Leftover Chicken

roast a whole chicken every weekend so we always have leftovers for soups and salads.  If you don’t have leftover chicken, you can roast a couple of chicken breasts (a day or two ahead even) or purchase a market roasted chicken. Discard the skin and shred the meat for the soup. You could even use diced, cooked boneless skinless chicken breast, but I prefer the shredded chicken for this soup. Do what works best for you.

One more idea, if you don’t have leftover chicken, use the method in my quick chicken rice recipe with a pressure cooker to cook a chicken breast. It takes just a few minutes to cook a chicken breast and you have wonderful broth as well. Just skip the rice and dill.

Mexican Flavors

My chicken tortilla soup is based on classic Mexican flavors. I use ground cumin and coriander, jalapeño pepper and ground chipotle for mild heat, fresh oregano, creamy avocado, zing from lime juice and crunch from crisp, home-baked corn tortilla strips as garnish. I also add pinto beans for more substance and heathy fiber.

Start by cooking the vegetables in a little olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and spices. Next, I add tomatoes, beans, broth and the shredded chicken. Just heat to hot and your soup is almost ready. So what’s left to do? The garnishes!

Garnishes – The Best Part

The best part of chicken tortilla soup is the garnishes. Placing small bowls of goodies on the table allows everyone to customize their soup. I use lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado and grated cheese. You could add fresh chopped tomato as well if you like. And to top it all off, crisp, homemade corn tortillas strips.

Homemade Tortilla Strips

How To Make Homemade Tortilla Strips

Making homemade tortillas strips for your soup takes just 9 minutes in a 350 oven. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut the halves crosswise into thin strips. Toss with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes (convection). They come out golden and crisp and are hard to stop eating. Be sure to choose organic corn tortillas, and sprouted organic tortillas are an even better option. 

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken tortilla soup is a meal in a bowl. You don’t really need anything else to complete dinner. And leftovers, if there are any, hold well for a few days in the refrigerator.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Leftover roast chicken makes this soup with classic Mexican flavors fast to put together. It’s a meal in a bowl. Have fun customizing your soup with the garnishes. You might get 5-6 servings out of this recipe, but one bowl never seems to be enough. Use leftovers from a whole chicken or two chicken breasts. In a pinch, a market roasted chicken will work as well. Don’t let the list of ingredients slow you down. A lot of it is spices, garnishes and options.  
Course Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken, Mushroom soup, tortilla
Servings 4


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • 1 medium carrot chopped fine
  • 1 large celery rib chopped fine
  • 1 jalapeño pepper optional, seeded and diced fine
  • 3 garlic cloves diced very fine
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander optional but good
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder optional but good for the heat
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes roasted or regular,
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans rinsed in a sieve with cold water
  • 5 cups chicken broth preferably homemade
  • 9 ounces or about 2 3/4 cups cooked shredded chicken

Optional Garnishes

  • Homemade corn tortillas strips make them ahead, directions below
  • 4 ounces grated Jack or Mexican cheese
  • 1-2 limes quartered
  • A few tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 avocados sliced or cut into chunks


  • If you are making the optional tortilla chip garnish, make them first. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut tortillas in half, then crosswise into thin strips. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Bake strips about 9 minutes or until crisp and golden. Watch so they don’t burn.
  •  In a 5 quart pot or Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and jalapeño and cook until the vegetables are soft. If they start to brown, turn your heat down. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, coriander, chipotle and oregano and cook 1-2 minutes to release the spices flavors.
  • Add the tomatoes, beans and broth and chicken. Heat soup until hot. Serve with garnishes on the side.
No Comments
  1. Mary@SiftingFocus - January 27th, 2013

    Sally, what a wholesome and satisfying soup. My husband loves chicken tortilla soup and shamefully I admit I have never made it for him. One night this week I’m going to surprise him and make your recipe. By the way, I love tortilla soup too!

  2. Steph - February 5th, 2013

    Hello! I made this today for dinner and I really liked how easily this healthy dish all came together — the flavors are great too!

    Oh and fyi, you mentioned chipotle and jalapeno in the directions but not in the ingredient list, so I just used 1 tsp chipotle powder and 1 minced jalapeno. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  3. Linda - March 22nd, 2013

    Made this last night and used the same pressure cooker method that you use for the Chicken Rice soup and it turned out great. I had requests to make it again!

  4. Sally - March 22nd, 2013

    What a great idea Linda! Will have to note that in the recipe! Thanks for reporting back!

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