The other day, I had a shocking realization: after 10 years of writing recipes for this site, I’ve somehow neglected to share my absolute best and surprisingly easy chicken tortilla soup recipe with you guys.
The recipe that is without a doubt my most frequently made soup of all time, my family’s favorite, and the one I’m most likely to deliver to a sick family member or friend who just had a baby. How could this have happened? Honestly, I have no idea other than the fact that I’ve made this soup so many times, it’s become second nature; I almost don’t think of it as a “recipe” at all.
Today we are going to remedy this, and I spent the weekend making a big batch of this soup and actually measuring my ingredients so I didn’t have to rely on “a pinch of this” and a “big scoop of that” level vagueness. And did I mention one of my favorite things about this recipe is the leftovers? My whole family ate it for dinner on a Sunday, then I warmed it back up for lunch on the back patio with two friends on a Monday, and there was still enough left for me to feast on it for Tuesday lunch at my desk.
“Weren’t you sick of it by then?” you might be wondering. Not a chance, my friends — this is truly the chicken tortilla soup that keeps on giving. Scroll on for my tips for success, as well as the recipe card at the bottom of this post. I’ll be posting the video of me making it start to finish on my IGTV, so be on the lookout here.
And: we’re going to try something new today! If you make this recipe, tag it with #CamillesTortillaSoup on Instagram so I can see (and share) yours.
I wanted to post this easy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe during December, because it is the best lunch or dinner to make for family gatherings. You can double this recipe (just make sure you have a BIG pot – this is my go-to and it’s on sale!), and when it’s time to eat, set it out with all your toppings, and let everyone help themselves. Plus when everyone wakes up from their post-lunch holiday naps, they can cozy up in front of one of these Christmas movies with their cozy bowl of seconds in hand.
One secret that makes this soup so good is to cook the bone-in skin-on chicken breast right in the pot with everything else. I used to roast the chicken in the oven and then add it to the soup, but I’ve found that poaching it in the soup liquid infuses the soup with so much flavor that you just can’t get from a box of chicken broth on its own. Feel free to sub in chicken thighs if you’re cool with dark meat – you just want to do bone-in if possible for max flavor. Speaking of, we’re also going heavy on the spices – I’ve listed my amounts below, and I recommend not skimping. You want some heat and loads of flavor in this soup!
The toppings here are key, for both the delicious factor and the aesthetics; you definitely eat with your eyes first with this recipe, and a bowl heaping with tortilla chips, fresh cilantro, shredded cheese, and chopped avocado is truly the stuff of dreams on a cold winter’s night.
Scroll on for the recipe, make sure to tag on Instagram with #CamillesTortillaSoup, and let’s celebrate cozy season.
ps – This soup freezes beautifully! Just store in mason jars or gallon-sized ziplocs in the freezer, thaw overnight in the fridge, then rewarm covered over low heat on the stove.
Also: You can make this soup a full day or two ahead. I store it right in the dutch oven I cooked it in, covered in the fridge and rewarm when ready to eat. Another reason why it’s perfect for family gatherings – advance prep is key.
- olive oil
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
- 4 carrots, thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 large (or 3 small) chicken breast halves, bone in, skin on
- 1 1/2 quarts chicken broth
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 corn tortillas, thinly sliced
- toppings (pick your faves or serve them all!): chopped avocado, tortilla chips, shredded cheese, limes, sour cream, cilantro, jalapeño
- Coat the bottom of a large stockpot or dutch oven with olive oil, then warm on the stove over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery, and carrots until they soften, about 8 minutes.
- Add garlic, jalapeño, cumin, and coriander, and stir to combine. Sauté for another two minutes, then add the chicken breast halves. Season liberally with salt and pepper, then pour chicken broth and tomatoes over chicken to cover. If the chicken isn't submerged, add water to cover. Add cilantro and tortilla strips.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it all simmer for about 30 minutes. Cut into one piece of chicken to test for doneness. When the chicken is cooked through, remove from the soup pot and let cool on a cutting board for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove and discard skin and bones, then use two forks to shred the chicken (or alternately, try my new stand mixer technique for shredding chicken that I demonstrate in this IGTV! Game-changing.) Return shredded chicken to pot and rewarm.
- Serve soup with all the garnishes and let everyone top their own soup. Eat!
**Freeze leftovers! Just thaw overnight in the fridge, then rewarm, covered, over low heat on the stove. You can also make this soup a full day or two ahead. I store it right in the dutch oven I cooked it in, covered in the fridge and rewarm when ready to eat.