Last year, as I was pondering what to give to several of my friends for Christmas, I struggled to think of something they would really need or want.   Eventually, it occurred to me that what many people might truly appreciate during this festive yet hectic time of year is a ready-made meal.  Who wouldn’t be delighted with home delivery of a wholesome, home-cooked dinner and a reason to gather around the dinner table?  Giving something so personal always feels good, too.

This soup, paired with a batch of corn spoon bread, was my gift of choice.  It is one of my favorites, can be made easily in a large quantity, and may be embellished with your favorite toppings but is delicious as is.  This particular recipe is a delicious, nourishing, one-bowl meal that can be prepared easily and provide leftovers that taste as good or better the next day.

As written, this recipe nearly fills my 5-quart stockpot.  While you may easily cut this recipe in half, doubling is a practical option, too, as the soup freezes well and may be packaged and delivered as a thoughtful gift.  For added convenience, many of the ingredients are pantry basics, and the recipe may be prepared in two easy stages when pressed for time.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

This flavorful soup is a favorite in our house, topped with grated cheese and a few crushed “hint of lime” tortilla chips. For a flavorful twist on the standard cheddar or Mexican blend, try freshly grated Manchego cheese.

This recipe fills my Dutch oven to the rim. It freezes well and is delicious leftover, although the amount may be easily cut in half.

  • 4 cups (or one 32-ounce carton) chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 1 (16 ounce) jar chunky salsa
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained (or one 28-ounce can)
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (I use a slightly rounded tablespoon)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained, or 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional garnishes: crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, lime slices, cilantro

  1. In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine broth, water, chicken, pepper, and garlic powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken, shred and return to broth. At this point, you may cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large stock pot over medium heat, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil until slightly browned, 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the salsa, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, corn, black beans, shredded chicken and the broth. (I like to swish about a half cup of water among the salsa and tomato cans/jars to get everything out and add that to the pot, too.)
  4. Bring soup to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for as little as 30 minutes or up to two hours. I usually aim for an hour but have gone to either end of this range. Add salt and pepper to taste. (I add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few turns of the pepper mill)
  5. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

For my homemade version of the Hint of Lime tortilla chips, click here.


This recipe was featured on 365 Days of Baking’s Wicked Good Wednesdays.