Chicken Tortilla Soup

By Ann Fulton

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A brimming pot of this wholesome soup is a filling favorite in our house. Topped with grated cheese and a few crushed tortilla chips, it’s extra special!


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.


A brimming pot of this wholesome soup is a favorite in our house. For added appeal, top with grated cheese and a few crushed tortilla chips!

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

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.

Yield: 5+ quarts
  • 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!
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  1. Ed

    Love your recipes. Wish that local editor would get rid of that junk from the Times and bring you back. Thanks, Ed, Marietta

    1. Ann Post author

      Ed, Your comment made me smile. Thank you for your support after all this time. I do miss my LNP readers! If inclined, you could write a letter to the editor. You never know what might happen if they know the readers haven’t forgotten!

    1. Ann Post author

      …and there just so happens to be a lot of snow out my window today! Thanks so much for your comment, Jeanne. I’m glad this hits the spot on a cold winter day.

  2. Jim

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your recipes, both the style in which you write them and the wonderful food that results from them. This was first one I tried and it was over the top. My wife remembered such a soup at a restaurant in San Antonio and I have tried to duplicate it since. Finally, your recipe not only matched, but exceeded San Antonio. I plan to try the roasted cauliflower recipe for dinner tonight.

    1. Ann

      Thank you for the wonderful feedback, Jim. I am thrilled that this soup exceeded your expectations and hope you enjoy many more recipes in the weeks and months ahead.

  3. Elaine

    I’ve been trying to replicate a chicken tortilla soup enjoyed at a local restaurant. This one surpassed it! Just delicious! Everyone who tries it asks for the recipe. Tastes even better the next day. Freezes well too.

    1. Ann

      Yay! I’m thrilled this was a success and I agree with you that it improves with age…and freezes well!

  4. Jen Reinhart

    We have a soup club at work and I ALWAYS enlist my husband to make my soup when it’s my month. However, I ventured out of my comfort zone and used this recipe…the reviews were fabulous!! The recipe made enough for dinner for my family and soup club the next day.

    1. Ann

      Hi Jen,
      I am so glad! Thanks for letting me know! I love the idea of a soup club…and it sounds as though your husband has some great recipes up his sleeve!

  5. Kathy

    I just tried this recipe last night and it was amazing! I did use the petite cut tomatoes with chilies to zip it up a bit. Yum!

  6. Rila Hackett

    Hi Ann…. just chiming in with Don to say that we love this soup. And it’s so nice to have plentiful leftovers, too. (Don might also cite his superb chicken shredding technique as adding to the success!) Thank you again for your labor of love and care in creating and sharing all of your recipes. It is a huge gift to us all. Merry Christmas and blessed new year to the whole family!

    1. Ann

      I am recruiting Don the next time chicken is on the menu. No doubt the soup tasted better thanks to his participation: ) Thank you for your never-ending kindness. It is as much a pleasure to share my labor of love as it is to enjoy those of your most talented family! Wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a coming year full of family, friends and new adventures!

  7. Don Hackett

    Muy Bueno!!!!
    What a perfect way to cap a Sunday morning of fun worship with people I love!!!! My Southern Californian taste buds take off their sombreros to you. I hope many will enjoy this hot delight this winter.

    1. Ann

      These are the messages I so enjoy reading! Thank you, Don, and tipping my sombrero right back! (Knowing what was being served, we almost paid an unannounced visit, bowls in hand!!)