Chicken Tortilla Soup. This creamy, cheesy tortilla soup is loaded with juicy chicken and seasoned with tomatoes, bell pepper, jalapeño, and a Chile powder seasoning blend. Top with crispy tortilla strips and more melty cheese for a hearty meal!
Chicken tortilla soup has become my go to. If I see it on a menu while ordering take out, that’s what I gravitate towards. This tomato based broth is loaded with all my favorite seasonings, veggies, and hearty chunks of chicken. It’s thick and creamy thanks to the addition of corn tortillas and a small amount of cheese. This soup is sure to be a big hit!
How to make Chicken Tortilla Soup:
- Sear the chicken. Searing the chicken first gets the most flavor for the broth. Don’t worry about cooking the chicken completely through since it will be added back in and fully cooked later.
- Saute the veggies. This soup is made with a base of onion, red bell pepper, jalapeño. Saute the veggies until they are soft and tender. Once soft add in the seasonings and stir to combine.
- Create the broth. Add in the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth. The tomato and broth will combine with the veggies and seasoning to create a nicely flavored broth.
- Cook the chicken. Add the chicken back into the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low, let this cook for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken reaches 165℉ and is cooked through.
- Remove the chicken. Shred the chicken and set aside.
- Blend the soup. Blending the soup at this point will create a smooth and creamy base for our tortilla soup.
- Add the chicken and tortilla strips into the soup. Adding the corn tortillas is what makes this tortilla soup ultra thick and creamy. Bring the soup back to a simmer and let the corn tortillas cook in the soup for about 7-10 minutes. They will break down in the broth and create a thickness to the soup.
- Remove from heat and stir in mild cheddar cheese. You can skip this step if you would prefer, or you need to make this soup dairy free.
- Serve topped with crispy fried tortilla strips, sour cream, cheese, and diced cilantro. Other options would be fresh diced tomatoes, or avocado.
Slow Cooker Instructions:
This soup can be made in the crockpot if that’s an easier method for you. To make this a slow cooker chicken tortilla soup:
- Sear the chicken in a skillet.
- Add the chicken, veggies, tomatoes and broth to the slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW 6-8 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.
- Remove the chicken and shred. Blend the soup.
- Add the chicken and the tortilla strips. Cook on LOW for an additional 30 minutes.
- Stir in the cheese.
- Use chicken thighs for this recipe. The use of thighs ensures we will have juicy, tender chicken in our soup.
- Blend the soup broth. Blending is what is going to give us a creamy chicken tortilla soup. Make sure to turn the heat off if using an immersion blender. If you are transferring to a blender or food processor to blend, make sure you allow the soup to cool briefly. Placing a lid on the blender filled with hot liquid can create pressure that will push the top off and cause burns. So please be careful.
- Add cheese. Once the soup is cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the cheese while it melts. This gives us a creamy, cheesy chicken tortilla soup.
- Add any additions you want after you blend the soup. If you’re adding corn or black beans, add these after the soup has been blended.
How to make homemade fried tortilla strips:
You can always use store bought tortilla strips, but since corn tortillas are called for in this soup, it’s just as easy to fry up your own.
- Pour a small amount of oil into a large pot or cast iron skillet.
- Heat the oil until one small tortilla strip inserted will cause bubbling.
- Add in the corn tortillas in batches using long handled tongs, turning while they cook to brown both sides.
- Once browned and crisp, remove the tortilla strips to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
More Soup Recipes:
- Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup
- Taco Soup
- Potato Soup
- Corn Chowder
- Chicken Pot Pie Soup
- Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeno, deseeded and membranes removed, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 30 ounces crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth, unsalted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 white corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded
Homemade Tortilla Strips
- 4 white corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1/4 cup oil, canola or vegetable
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- sour cream
- Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot over medium heat.
- Add the chicken and sear, cooking for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Add the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno to the pot. Stir while cooking over medium heat until the veggies are cooked, softened and translucent.
- Stir in the seasonings: garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika and oregano.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the chicken back into the soup. Cover and simmer the chicken in the broth for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the chicken has reached 165℉ and is cooked through, remove the chicken and shred.
- Blend the soup broth (before adding the chicken back in) using an immersion blender, blender, or food processor.
- Add the chicken back into the soup, along with the strips of corn tortillas. Bring back to a simmer. Cook for 7-10 minutes while the corn tortillas break down into the broth.
- Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Serve with toppings.
Recipe first published October 10, 2019. Updated August 28, 2020 with information and video.