Let me start by saying I really dislike leftover chicken. There's something about how the texture and flavor changes once it's reheated that I just don't like. But I also hate wasting food, so I've been on a hunt for the best way to use leftover chicken meat after roasting a whole bird, and this Chicken Tortilla Soup is just that.
You can absolutely make this recipe with chicken that you cook specifically for this soup. But I love to roast a whole chicken (check out my Citrus & Herb Whole Roasted Chicken recipe), make Homemade Chicken Stock with the carcass, and then make this Chicken Tortilla Soup with the leftover chicken meat.
See what I did there? You start with roasting a whole chicken and you end up with three recipes and so many more meals for the week!
As always, I do include a few affiliate links in this post for products I truly use and love. This just means that if you make a purchase after clicking one of those links, I'll earn a little money (at no cost to you) to keep the kitchen up and running, which I promise to use to create more fun content like this! One of those affiliates is with Amazon, which requires a very clear disclosure: as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you have any questions about affiliates, please reach out!
Ingredients for Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Shredded chicken: this is where I love to use leftover chicken. If you're cooking chicken specifcally for this recipe, you'll want to cook 1-2 chicken breasts (about 1 lb. of chicken), and then shred it.
- Chicken broth: you can make Homemade Chicken Stock or use store-bought
- Crushed tomatoes and tomato paste: for that beautiful red color and amazing tomato flavor
- Jalapeño pepper: to add a little heat
- Black beans: make sure you rinse before using
- Onion: you want to keep the texture, so diced is fine
- Garlic: we just want the flavor, not big chunks, so you'll want to mince the garlic
- Corn: you can used canned, fresh or frozen
- Corn tortillas: to cut into strips for our topping
- A few pantry staples including olive oil, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper
- Cilantro, avocado, and lime for topping
Equipment you'll need to get started
A quick note on the chicken
I like to use leftover chicken in this recipe. If you're doing the same, make sure to shred your chicken into bite-sized pieces. You'll also want to remove any excess skin. Although skin is delicious on a whole roasted bird, it's not so great when you get a chunk in a spoonful of soup.
If you're making chicken specifically to add to this recipe, you'll want to cook 1-2 chicken breasts (approximately 1 lb.) and then shred to bite-sized pieces.
How to make the tortilla strips
These tortilla strips are addicting and so easy to make! Once you know how, you'll want to put them on everything!
Start with a stack of about 4 tortillas. Using a knife, cut them into ¼ inch thick strips. Heat ½ cup of olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot and starting to pop, add a handful of tortilla strips. You may need to do this in batches as you don't overfill the pan. You'll want to give them enough room to move around a bit and get evenly coated. Let the strips fry for approximately 1 minute, lightly stirring or shaking the pan to ensure they're evenly coated.
You'll notice when the strips start to become hard and crunchy (like chips). Use tongs to transfer to a plate covered in paper towel to help soak up excess oil. While they're still warm, sprinkle with salt and paprika. Toss to coat and they're ready to eat!
Chicken tortilla soup FAQ
Do I have to use leftover chicken?
No, you can definitely make chicken specifically for this recipe. You'll want to cook 1-2 chicken breasts (approximately 1 lb.) and then shred to add to the soup.
How should I store Chicken Tortilla Soup?
Store the soup in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. The tortilla strips you'll want to store separately in a ziplock bag in the pantry / at room temperature.
Below is my recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Chicken Tortilla Soup
For the soup
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper deseeded, minced
- 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups corn kernels canned, fresh or frozen
- 1 can (15 oz.) black beans rinsed
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 Tablespoon chili powder
- 4-6 cups chicken stock
- 1 lb. shredded chicken
- ½ cup cilantro chopped, plus more for topping
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Avocado slices for topping
- Lime wedges for topping
For the tortilla strips
- ½ cup olive oil
- 8 corn tortillas cut into ¼ inch strips
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant and onion is slightly transparent.
- Add jalapeño through chili powder and stir to combine. Pour in chicken stock and add your shredded chicken. Add more stock (or water) if needed to reach the consistency you like. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat, stir in cilantro, juice from 1 lime, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- While your soup simmers, heat ½ cup olive in a small skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add a handful of tortilla strips. You don't want to crowd the pan, so you'll likely do this in batches. The strips should be bubbling and shimmering in the pan. Lightly stir to evenly coat and fry for approximately 1 minute, or until crispy.
- Transfer to plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and paprika, and toss to coat. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips
- To serve, fill a bowl with your soup, top with a handful of tortilla strips and add avocado slices and a lime wedge. Enjoy!