This easy chicken tortilla soup is a simple, no-fuss, healthy, Mexican-inspired (but really more Tex Mex) meal that can be on the table in under an hour. It’s a brothy mix of chicken, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeño is topped with baked tortilla strips and any toppings you desire.
Here’s a soothing weeknight dinner fix with a ridiculously high taste-to-effort ratio. Grab a rotisserie chicken and a stash of broth, add some pantry staples, and in less time than it takes to get takeout, you’ve got a family-friendly soup that each picky palate at the table can customize with toppings—sorta like the soup equivalent of Taco Tuesday.–Jenny Howard
Why our testers loved this
Our testers love the ease of preparation for this simple chicken tortilla soup, and that the variety of toppings allows everyone to customize it to their own tastes.
Joe F. joined in with his comment, “All in all, a great way to repurpose chicken leftovers and stretch a rotisserie or roasted chicken into a second, probably very different from the first, meal.”
Notes on ingredients
- Jalapeño–Depending on your spice tolerance, use as little or as much of the pepper, as you prefer. Removing the seeds and white membrane will also tame the heat.
- Chicken stock–Good quality chicken stock can elevate the flavor of any homemade chicken soup recipe. If you don’t have any homemade chicken stock, buy the best quality canned or boxed that you can find.
- Shredded chicken–This is an excellent use for leftover roast chicken, especially since your roast chicken carcass makes wonderful chicken stock. A rotisserie chicken will make a good substitute here.
How to make chicken tortilla soup
- Bake your tortilla strips. Cut your tortillas into strips, toss with a little oil and salt and bake until crispy and golden. Let cool.
- Buzz the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Process until they’re mixed into a paste.
- Cook the onion paste. Cook the processed onion paste in a large pot until softened.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, stock, chicken, and lime juice. Bring to a simmer and cook until heated through.
- Serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with the crispy tortilla strips and your favorite toppings.
Chicken Tortilla Soup FAQs
What is tortilla soup?
Tortilla soup is a Mexican broth and tomato based soup made with crispy fried or baked tortilla strips. It often has meat added to it, such as chicken or beef, and can also include black beans and corn.
Can I make tortilla soup with leftover turkey?
Definitely. Leftover cooked turkey can be used in place of the cooked chicken here.
What should I serve with my soup?
Serve this easy soup with a side salad and Mexican-style street corn. Or offer a bowl of tortilla chips with salsa, guacamole, or easy queso dip on the side. Don’t forget churros for dessert!
- Want to zhuzh up canned chicken broth? Dump your canned or boxed broth in a pot and toss in whatever else you would usually add to stock, such as onions, garlic, bay leaves, carrots, and herbs, along with the carcass from a roast chicken or rotisserie chicken. Add a little water to the pot, being careful to add no more than half the amount of broth. Then gently simmer for at least 20 minutes or, if using raw chicken, until it’s cooked through. Strain and use.
- Store leftover soup in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 6 months. Keep the tortilla strips separate until just before serving.
More great chicken soup recipes
☞ If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
For the tortilla strips
- 8 small corn tortillas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the chicken tortilla soup
- 1 medium (8 oz) yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 to 1 jalapeño pepper seeds and membranes removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- One (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes preferably fire-roasted
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 cups slow cooker chicken stock, homemade chicken stock or best-quality canned chicken broth
- 4 cups shredded chicken
- Juice of 1 lime
Make the tortilla strips
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, slice the corn tortillas into 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick strips. (The kids can do that if they’re helping in the kitchen.) In a large bowl, toss the tortilla strips with 1 tablespoon of oil and a pinch of salt.
- Arrange the strips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake stirring once after 5 minutes, until the tortilla strips are golden and crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
Make the easy chicken tortilla soup
- In a food processor, whiz the onion, garlic, and jalapeño into a paste.
- In a large pot set over medium heat, warm the oil and cook the onion mixture, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, salt, chicken stock, shredded chicken, and lime juice. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until everything is heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Ladle the soup into the bowls and top each with a handful of tortilla strips. Serve, passing the optional toppings on the side, if desired.
- Speed it up–If you’re in a hurry, this soup comes together quickly with the help of a rotisserie chicken and canned broth.
- Dietary–This soup is suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free diets, as long as you skip any sour cream or cheese toppings.
- Storage–Stash leftover chicken tortilla soup in your fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months. We recommend keeping the tortilla strips and soup separate until just before serving.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This was a delicious winter soup for chilly evenings. The paste of pepper, onion, and garlic gave the soup a fabulous consistency.
I used fire-roasted tomatoes because I had those on hand. Further, I used store-bought broth and a rotisserie chicken. I used one whole jalepeno. The crisp tortillas took 10 minutes at 375 degrees.
Will be making this again for family and friends! The only change to the recipe is I would do fire-roasted tomatoes every time.
Broth-based soups are always on my radar, so I was very eager to try this one, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The homemade chicken stock, in my view, is key to the richness of this wonderfully bright and flavorful soup!
The variety of toppings add a fun way to customize each bowl to individual tastes. We went with the lime wedges and cilantro. We loved the addition of lime juice! The toasted corn tortilla strips added to the soup kept a little of their crispness in the liquid and created a noodle-like texture to the bite. I would recommend making more of the toasted tortilla strips, so you have enough for the soup, as they were quickly disappearing after coming out of the oven! Very tasty!
I made the stock overnight in my slow cooker from 2 small rotisserie chicken carcasses and the house smelled wonderful in the morning when we got up. I added fresh parsley and thyme sprigs to the stock along with the veggies. The resulting stock had a beautiful amber color and a rich and delicious flavor, unlike the rather colorless and bland-tasting stocks that you purchase in a grocery store. This was a great-tasting stock with very little effort!
My family really liked this soup and it was easy to prepare. I try to make stock whenever I have leftover chicken bones, and I already had a couple of quarts in the freezer. I pretty much had everything else in the house as well, so it came together in a snap.
The toasted tortilla strips and the garnishes are what make this interesting, so I wouldn’t skimp on those. Making the “sofrito” in a mini-chopper was a great idea. After that went in the pot, I pulsed the tomatoes a few times as the pieces in the can seemed large for soup.
My only quibble is that the soup base doesn’t exactly scream Mexican to me. If you are making stock for this purpose, I would definitely add some Mexican oregano or cumin or a seeded dried chile pepper to the broth. If you already have plain broth, you could put some of those spices or a little bit of chipotle (or the adobo sauce from the chipotle can) into the soup while simmering.
All in all, a great way to repurpose chicken leftovers and stretch a rotisserie or roasted chicken into a second, probably very different from the first, meal.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I believe this is a recipe that has a high taste-to-effort ratio. Shredding the chicken takes a little work, but everything else is pretty short. Naturally, this is only as good as the stock you use, so make sure you use a good stock!
While I made this recipe with chicken, there’s no reason that this wouldn’t work with turkey, and I think it’s a great way to eat Thanksgiving leftovers. If you’re like me, you make a stock with the carcass immediately and there’s plenty of leftover turkey meat to use with this recipe. For the amount of jalapeno I used it did not taste spicy. I would probably use a whole jalapeno next time.
Overall, very easy to make and highly recommended as a weeknight meal.