I don’t know about you, but I love, love, love me some Chicken Tortilla Soup. Or some Turkey Tortilla Soup. OK make that ANY Tortilla Soup. Just put it in front of me and I’ll eat it – no questions asked. Anytime I go out and see Chicken Tortilla Soup on a menu, I hafta order it. Doncha hate it when it comes in a little tiny cup? Well, that won’t be a problem when you make this at home, and you can make it on the stovetop or in the slow cooker!
One thing about Chicken Tortilla Soup. No two are ever alike! Each tortilla soup has its own personality, its own little special touches, and this one is no exception! It’s basically the sum total of all the chicken tortilla soups I’ve had and/or made over the years, so I hope you’ll like it as much as we do!
About Chicken Tortilla Soup:
It’s the tortillas that make the soup. Maybe that’s why its called Tortilla Soup lol! They’re the best part of it, aren’t they? In the States here, they usually come all fried into crunchy deliciousness to top the soup. Many versions from Mexico (and Tortilla Soup there is quite a bit different than our Tortilla Soups in the States) have the tortilla strips put in the bottom of the bowl and the soup poured over. Either way is delish, but my vote goes for having those strips on top.
As far as what goes IN the Chicken Tortilla Soup, this really is a classic Tex-Mex or Southwestern version, loaded up with chicken, black beans, and corn, along with all the rest of the veggies that kind of “make” the soup. The tomatoes and green chiles and in this soup come from the magic that is Ro-Tel. And then, of course, the spices in this are spot on! A little secret is there are tortillas IN the soup, too, to give it a little body and that classic, distinct flavor.
It’s pretty much a complete meal all on its own, but you can garnish it up with all your fave things. Isn’t that always the fun part of cooking at home? The tortilla “tangles” as I call them, are the basic must-have, and so is the lime, just to spark things up. But from there use what you love. I like a little avocado and some diced red onions (not shown) and a good dollop of cool sour cream topping it!
Making Chicken Tortilla Soup:
I add spices to my soup, but if you’re in a short-cutty kinda mood, feel free to use a packet or part of a packet of taco or fajita seasoning. I also use a can of Rotel, but a can of tomatoes and a can of green chile will work. I don’t know what it is about Rotel, though, cause it just has its own special sumpin’ sumpin’ going on.
Think about making this if you have any leftover chicken or turkey – or make extra chicken earlier in the week so you will have leftovers. And of course, you can just cook up a little chicken for this soup. Whichever way you go, it’s delish. If you make the slow cooker version, the chicken doesn’t have to be cooked ahead of time. It will spend long enough in that slow cooker to cook all the way through. Just shred the chicken when the soup is finished.
This is a great way to use a few tortillas languishing in your fridge, too. Except for the garnishes, most of this soup can come from the pantry or freezer so it’s a perfect pick me up on any cold, dreary day.
Customize this Soup:
I personally think this soup is perfect as is, obviously, since I developed it and tweaked it over the years to my taste. That being said, feel free to tinker! First of all, you can leave out the spices and add a packet of taco seasoning as a shortcut. It will be a little different but still good! I like tomato paste but it’s there to add a little body to the soup and up the tomato flavor. In a pinch, you could use a good squirt of ketchup.
Another shortcut is to keep roasted Jalapenos in your freezer in small packets of one or two. Roast up a bunch when you have them (see how on this recipe) and then they’re ready anytime you’d like to make this. You can get by without roasting them but they def have a better texture roasted. Vary the heat level by the number of jalapenos and the amount of the hot spices you use.
Almost anything in this soup can be changed up, but some changes might affect the volume. Use any color of bell pepper or none at all, use corn or not, beans or not, or maybe another bean is more to your taste? Use pintos or red beans. I love the Rotel in this, but a small can of green chiles and a can of tomatoes can be subbed in. If you’re ever stuck with no lime, try just a tiny dribble of vinegar, to taste.
Saving Money on Chicken Tortilla Soup:
Watch for your chicken on sale; it usually comes in larger family packs so break it down to convenient sizes and freeze. This is a great recipe to use leftover chicken or turkey in. As a matter of fact, this is a great recipe to use other leftover items in; maybe the corn, for instance.
Bell peppers go on sale regularly and last a week or two in the fridge. Buy them when you see them, and buy a few extra for the following week. Limes do go on sale now and then and keep well for a week or two. Sour cream often goes on sale so get in the habit of picking items like this up before you need them if you use them regularly. As far as the tortillas, I rarely see them on sale. Look for them in endcaps, in the refrigerator section, and in the Mexican food aisle and compare the prices.
The canned and pantry goods are items you should be stocking up on when on sale, and in enough quantity to last to the next great sale. Most items drop to a low once a quarter. Beans and Rotel you might find great prices on around Cinco de Mayo or the Superbowl. Again, stock up. Corn, for me, is kind of in its own category. It’s usually cheaper fresh, when in season for less than either frozen or canned, but when it’s out of season, I pick up frozen for eating and the much less expensive canned for cooking.
If you’re organized and have a freezer (and yes, you should!) making your own chicken and/or turkey stock and freezing as well as cooking your own beans from dried and freezing them will save you a bit. The savings are going to be the highest for the broth. If cooking the beans, you’ll usually get around three packages of 1 1/2 cups each, which is about the same as a can of beans.
Chicken Tortilla Soup (or Turkey Tortilla Soup)
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: Mexcan or Mexican American
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion or two small, finely diced
- 2 jalapenos, seeded and minced, preferably roasted first
- 1 bell pepper, diced (any color or a mix is fine)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (add to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 32 ounces Chicken Stock (about 4 cups) plus up to an additional two cups of broth or water
- 1 can (10 ounces) Rotel
- 2 cans (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed & drained
- 1 can of corn (14 ounces) drained or 1 1/2 cups frozen
- 5 – 8 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips (3 for the soup & the rest for fried for garnish, so keep them separate)
- 2 1/2 cups cooked & shredded chicken (see note)
- 2 limes, one juiced for soup, the other sliced for garnish
- Garnishes of your choice: avocado, red onion, cilantro, sour cream, cheese and the limes & tortillas reserved from the soup
- a little oil to fry the tortilla strips for the garnish
Heat olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and minced jalapeno. Cook until softened, then add garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant. Add tomato paste and spices. Cook, stirring, for a minute or two until tomato paste loses its bright red color.
Pour in the 4 cups of chicken stock (reserve the 2 cups additional soup or water until the soup is nearly finished and add it to adjust the thickness to your liking.) Add the Rotel, beans, and corn. Add the three thinly sliced tortillas and chicken. Gently stir, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, adjusting heat if necessary.
When finished add the juice from the lime. Check seasonings for flavor and add more of any spices as desired. Add in additional broth or a little water if desired.
While the soup is cooking, heat a little oil in a small pan and fry the tortilla strips until crispy, working in batches. Stir them around a bit as they fry so they’ll be a lovely tangle for the garnish. Place on a paper towel to drain, sprinkle with salt while still warm and set aside for the garnish.
Ladle into soup into bowls, then top with fried tortillas and garnishes of your choice. Serve with lime wedges.
Note: any chicken or turkey will do for this soup, leftover is fine. If you don’t have cooked chicken, drizzle the breasts with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake in a 375-degree oven until done, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Add all ingredients, except for the lime and the garnishes, to the crockpot in the order listed. There’s no need to precook chicken, just add to the bottom if raw, but if using already cooked chicken, add it to the top. There’s no need to saute any of the vegetables, either. Cover and cook on high for two to three hours or low for four to six.
When ready to eat, stir the ingredients together, and if you’ve cooked your chicken in the crockpot, remove, shred, and add back in. Add the additional stock or water if desired, and the lime juice, taste and adjust seasoning and garnish as desired.
Keywords: Avocado, Bargain Meal of the Week, Beans, Bell Peppers, Beans, Black Beans, Chicken, Chicken Breast, Corn, leftover Chicken, leftover turkey, Lime, Mexican or Southwestern, Rotel, Slow Cooker, Soup, Tomatoes, tortilla chips, tortillas, Turkey