Using salsa as your secret ingredient, you get all the flavor in this easy chicken tortilla soup in half the time. Store-bought rotisserie chicken also helps reduce your cooking time.
Soup is one of those meals that you think would take all day to prepare. But, you can easily make a delicious soup in about 30 minutes with a couple of short cuts. Short cuts doesn’t mean you are skimping on flavor.
My kids love eating soup 365 days out of the year. And my middle child positively loves chicken tortilla soup. So when you make it as often as I have, you know I have created some short cuts that makes it easy to whip up even if you have all the time in the world.
Why this recipe rocks
Canned soup is certainly easy to reheat, but it is laden with way too much sodium and preservatives. But this easy chicken tortilla soup is homemade which means it is delicious but is easy to whip up.
Some of favorite ways to add flavor when I don’t have time to make this soup are simple substitutions. For example, I use store bought chicken broth and even rotisserie chicken when I have leftovers on hand.
I like to use salsa when I have some in the fridge. If I have roasted Hatch chiles in the freezer, I throw that in as well.
We like our tortillas on the crunchy side, so I do not sauté them or cook them in the soup. Instead, we top our soup with our favorite tortilla chips.
Ingredients you need
- Extra virgin olive oil: I cook almost exclusively with olive oil. Feel free to use any other neutral oil.
- Onion: The start of a good soup, always starts with onions. I use regular brown onions.
- Garlic: If you don’t have fresh garlic, you substitute with ½ teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Cilantro: I prefer to use fresh cilantro, but you can substitute with 1 tablespoon of dried cilantro.
- Jalapeño: If you are not one to like spicy food, you can skip the jalapeño and try an Anaheim chile. You can also use serrano chile or Hatch chiles. You can also use canned green chiles which come in mild, medium or hot.
- Vegetables: The recipe below includes red bell pepper, carrots, celery, zucchini and corn. Feel free to use them or omit the ones you do not like.
- Lemon Juice: My family loves adding a bit of sour to their soups. You can use lemon juice, lime juice or omit altogether.
- Chunky Salsa: I like to add salsa to add more flavor to the soup. If you choose not to add any peppers, you can add a little smokiness and heat with salsa.
- Chicken: You can brown a chicken breast specifically for this soup or use any leftover rotisserie chicken you have in the fridge.
- Pantry Items: Canned diced tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken broth.
- Spices: Salt, pepper, cumin, chile powder
1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat and add chopped onions. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
2. When onions soften, stir in red bell pepper and any spicy chiles (if using) and cook an additional 3 minutes.
3. Stir in carrots and celery and continue to cook vegetable for 2-3 minutes.
4. Stir in garlic, cilantro and spices and cook for another minute. Be careful to not burn the garlic. Burnt garlic tastes bitter and can give the soup a bad aftertaste.
5. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, chicken broth and salsa. Reduce heat to simmer and cook soup for 30 minutes for flavors to meld together.
6. Stir in shredded chicken, zucchini and corn (if using). Zucchini should cook for a long time as it tends to get mushy. Cook for 10 more minutes then serve with your favorite toppings.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
Dinner shouldn’t stress you out. And this hearty and easy chicken tortilla soup is perfect to create and serve up on those busy weeknights.
For me, this soup is all about the toppings! Here are some of our favorites:
- Avocado slices or guacamole
- Fresh cilantro
- Shredded cheese
- Sour Cream
- Tortilla Chips
- Hot Sauce (for those who like it super spicy)
- Jalapeño slices
- Lime wedges
No. Chile (with an e) powder is dried and ground chiles. They come in a variety of heat like mild, medium and hot. Chili (with an i) powder is a spice mix that is used to season another family favorite meal, chili.
This soup is very hearty and filling, so you can easily serve it alone with topping choices like guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream and fresh cilantro. You could also serve it as a meal starter to your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos or quesadilla.
Absolutely yes, you can freeze this soup. Just let it cool off before you pack it in freezer safe containers. It will keep in the freezer for up to 6 months. To reheat, place frozen soup in a pot and heat over the stove. You can also reheat in the microwave.
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh diced cilantro
- 1 jalapeño pepper or any other favorite chile, cored, seeded & diced (optional)
- ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup chopped celery
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cumin
- ¼ tsp chile powder
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes, with juice
- 2 TBS tomato paste
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 5 cup chicken broth
- 1 ½ cup chunky salsa
- 3 cup cooked chicken, shredded or chopped
- ½ cup chopped zucchini
- ¼ cup frozen corn
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot on medium-high heat.
- Add chopped onion to the hot oil and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in bell pepper and any spicy chiles (if using) and cook an additional 3 minutes.
- Stir in carrots and celery and continue to cook vegetable for 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in garlic , cilantro and spices and cook for another minute. Be careful to not burn the garlic.
- Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, chicken broth and salsa.
- Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, lemon juice, chicken broth and salsa.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook soup for 30 minutes for flavors to meld together.
- Stir in chicken, zucchini and corn (if using). Zucchini should not cook for a long time as it tends to get mushy.
- Cook 10 more minutes.
- Serve immediately.
You can customize this soup to your own personal taste. Use the vegetables I suggested in the recipe, omit the ones you don't like.
Top soup with tortilla chips, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, fresh cilantro and/or lime wedges.
Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 271Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 68mgSodium: 1872mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 6gSugar: 16gProtein: 21g
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