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, salads and tacos.  If you don’t have leftover chicken, 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 using ground cumin, coriander, and ancho chili pepper. Fresh jalapeño pepper adds heat or use an Anaheim pepper for a more mild flavor. Another flavorful heat option is adding ground chipotle. Pinto beans add substance, protein and healthy fiber.

Start by cooking the vegetables in a little olive oil until soft, then add the garlic and spices. Next, add tomatoes, beans, broth and the shredded chicken. Just heat through 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, or as I call them, the goodies. Placing bowls of goodies on the table allows everyone to customize their soup. I use lime wedges, chopped cilantro, sliced avocado (or guacamole) and grated cheese. 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 9-10 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 until golden. They are crisp, lightly salty and 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 fast to put together. It’s a meal in a bowl. Have fun customizing your soup with the garnishes. Use leftovers from a whole chicken or chicken breasts. 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, Soup, tortilla
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 243kcal


  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil divided use
  • 1 medium onion chopped fine
  • 1 carrot chopped fine
  • 1 celery rib chopped fine
  • 1 jalapeño pepper or Anaheim for mild heat
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander optional but good
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle powder optional for spicy soup
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans rinsed and drained
  • 4-5 cups chicken or turkey broth
  • 8-9 ounces cooked shredded chicken about 2 3/4 cups

Optional Garnishes

  • Homemade corn tortillas strips make them ahead, directions below
  • 4 ounces grated Jack or Mexican cheese blend
  • 1-2 limes quartered
  • A few tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 large avocado sliced, diced or mashed


  • 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 if using and cook until the vegetables are soft. If they start to brown, turn your heat down. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the spices, oregano, salt and pepper and cook 2 minutes to release the spices flavors. Add the tomatoes, beans, broth and chicken and heat through. Serve with garnishes on the side.


Nutrition label is calculated without the optional garnishes.


Calories: 243kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 431mg | Potassium: 477mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 2813IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
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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