This Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of those fast cooking, super satisfying recipes that has a guaranteed spot on permanent meal time rotation at our house.
Pre-roasted chicken and black beans are simmered in a red chili broth flavored with garlic, onions, oregano, and cumin.
Then, come the toppings... Pile your bowl with tortilla chips, avocado, lime, green onions, jalapeños, cilantro, and sour cream. The soup is an hearty, mouthwatering weeknight meal that will be on the table in just over 30 minutes.
Why This Recipe Works
My family and I love the soup so much that it's something I plan for, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the enchilada sauce and roast enough chicken to ensure a cup or two is leftover for this soup.
But truly, if you have leftover chicken of any kind this soup is a great way to use it. The same goes for the random veggies rolling around in your crisper. Chop them up and toss them in.
Of course, you don't need to have leftover anything to make this soup.
Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your local market, open a can of enchilada sauce, and you're good to go.
What Are the Main Ingredients in Chicken Tortilla Soup?
The three main ingredients in this soup recipe are:
- Enchilada Sauce
More about each of those ingredients in a moment. In addition, you'll also need:
- Extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 large yellow or white onion
- A few cloves of garlic
- Adobo sauce (Found in the Mexican food isle of most major supermarkets)
- Dried spices: oregano and ground cumin
- A pinch of sugar
- Salt and pepper (obvi)
- Chicken broth (Or, Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base)
- A can of diced tomatoes
Using Pre-Cooked Chicken Makes This Recipe Quick and Easy
Use roast chicken, any other kind of leftover cooked chicken, or pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local market.
Roasting a couple of chickens is something I do about twice a month, making sure to roast enough for leftovers.
It's no more work to roast 2 or 3 chickens than it is to roast 1, and having leftover roast chicken meat is always a good thing. This soup is one of my favorite ways to use it up.
Over the years, I've discovered two ways of roasting chicken that are fool proof and delicious every time. Both methods require minimal prep time (5-10 minutes) and only 3 ingredients, including the chicken. You'll find both roast chicken methods here.
Besides this soup, here are a few of my other favorite ways to use leftover roast chicken (or leftover chicken of any kind):
Beans, beans, the magical fruit...
Does anyone else think about that silly childhood rhyme every time they eat beans? Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot.
If that silly little rhyme is actually quite true for you, cooking a pot of dried beans might be the solution.
In general, I feel that cooking dried beans is a highly underrated endeavor. I've got nothing agains canned beans and keep several varieties in my pantry at all times.
BUT – cooking dried beans only takes about 5 minutes of prep work, costs a fraction as much as canned, and taste markedly more delicious. Even better - cooking dried beans makes them more digestible, lessening the less desirable side effects of eating beans.
The two recipes I rely on are:
If I'm not going to use up an entire batch of beans in a week, I usually portion them out and freeze them for later use. Like homemade enchilada sauce, having some home cooked beans in the freezer is always a good thing.
The enchilada sauce recipe I've been making for years is extremely simple, requires only a handful of ingredients and does NOT require you to soak or roast dried chilies.
The key is to start with frozen red chili puree, cooking it with broth and spices until it's thick and rich, and delicious.
Of course, it goes without saying, that if you have a pot of homemade enchilada sauce, you might want to make an Enchilada Casserole. But, you can also just section it off and freeze it in 1-cup portions so you have delicious enchilada sauce on hand whenever you need it.
You can also use a can or jar of prepared enchilada sauce in this soup. Just taste the broth and add more seasoning if you like; canned enchilada sauce tends to be a bit more bland than the homemade variety.
This Chicken Tortilla Soup is All About the Garnishes
The broth, chicken, and beans are delicious all on their own, but the topping are where it's at.
Ladle some soup into your bowl then load it up with crushed tortilla chips, avocado, cheese, green onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and sour cream.
Weekly Meal Plans that include Chicken Tortilla Soup:
- Weekly Winter Meal Plan #1. If you're making this soup as a part of this Weekly Meal Plan, you should have some leftover enchilada sauce, black beans, and roast chicken in your refrigerator, just waiting to be used in this soup.
More Popular Soup Recipes:
- Black Bean Soup with Pickled Onions and Cilantro Oil
- Black Bean Tomato Soup
- Creamy Chicken Chili with Chorizo and Roasted Corn
- Spanish Potato Soup
- Red Lentil Soup with Ham
- Vegetarian Chili with Pico de Gallo and Chimichurri Sauce
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- 1 large yellow or white onion, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, diced
- 7 oz (¾ cup) adobo sauce
- 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 cup red enchilada sauce (*See note)
- 4 cups chicken broth
- One 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 15 oz (1 ¾ cup) black beans (*See note)
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (*See note)
Top the soup with any or all of the following garnishes:
- Slices of lime
- Diced avocado
- Fresh cilantro
- Diced green onions (white and light green parts only)
- Diced jalapeño (seeds removed), OR pickled jalapeños
- Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
- Crushed Tortilla Chips
- Sour Cream
- Add the oil and diced onion to a large, heavy bottom saucepan or dutch oven and set it over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the diced garlic, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, sugar, 2 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper to the onions. Cook stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the enchilada sauce, chicken broth, and can of tomatoes. Turn the heat to high and let simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to develop.
- Stir in the black beans and chicken and cook another minute or two to warm. Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Serve with any, or all, of the garnishes, allowing each person to top their soup as they like.
I almost always make this soup at the end of a week in which I've made Enchilada Casserole and Roast Chicken. It's something I plan for, making sure to reserve 1 cup of the enchilada sauce and roast enough chicken for 2 cups of leftovers to add to this soup.
What Enchilada Sauce should you use in this recipe?
This is my favorite, super easy recipe for Homemade Enchilada Sauce. The recipe uses frozen pureed chili to create an authentic enchilada sauce in just a few minutes.
You can also use a can or jar of prepared enchilada sauce. Just taste the broth and add more seasoning if you like; canned enchilada sauce tends to be a bit more bland than the homemade variety.
What Kind of Chicken should you use in this recipe?
Roasting a couple of chickens is something I do a couple of times a month, making sure to roast enough for leftovers. It's no more work to roast 2 or 3 chickens than it is to roast 1, and having leftover roast chicken meat is always welcome. This soup is one of my favorite ways to use it up.
But, you can also use pretty much any kind of leftover or precooked chicken in this soup. Or, pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local market.
What kind of Beans should you use in this recipe?
Or, simply open up a can of black beans and be done with it. 🙂
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 452Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 56mgSodium: 2409mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 15gSugar: 13gProtein: 32g