If you’ve never tried chicken tortilla soup, you are in for a treat. This version is a broth-based soup that’s a light and refreshing take on chicken soup with southwest flavors from tomatoes, black beans, cilantro, lime, and a little heat from cumin and jalapeno.
It can be enjoyed on its own as an appetizer, or you can load it up with toppings for and eat it as a balanced meal.
The best part is there isn’t a lot of prep work, you only need one pot, and you don’t have to stand over the stove while it cooks. In under an hour, you can have a deliciously satisfying and flavorful soup.
What You’ll Need
You only need a few pieces of fresh produce for the soup itself – an onion, a jalapeno, and garlic. The recipe calls for a small jalapeno, but if you like it spicy you can go bigger. If you don’t like spice at all, you can either remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno before mincing it, or you can skip it altogether.
Chicken broth is the base of this soup. I choose low sodium so I can control salt levels in my soup, but regular is fine if you’re not watching sodium levels.
Canned diced tomatoes and black beans give this soup the southwest flavors. I generally like to use fire roasted diced tomatoes because it adds a little bit of sweet smokiness to the flavor. I’ve used regular diced tomatoes, too, and they are great as well. It’s totally up to your preference. For the black beans I buy low sodium but, again, regular is fine if you’re not concerned with sodium.
Lime juice and cilantro brighten up the flavors in the soup and give it a light freshness. I generally use the juice of 1/2 of a lime and about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro. You can add more or less based on your taste preference. Also, if you don’t have a fresh lime, about 1 Tbsp of bottled lime juice will work. And while I have used dried cilantro in this dish before and it came out fine, fresh cilantro really is much better if you have it.
Adding toppings to this light soup can make it into a well-balanced meal. You can get creative with whatever sounds good to you, but a few of my favorite toppings include:
- brown rice
- diced avocado
- sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
- shredded pepper jack or cheddar cheese
- whole grain or baked tortilla chips
- chopped fresh cilantro
- jalapeno slices
How to Make
One of the best things about this recipe is that you only need one pot – a standard 3-4 quart pot.
Start by dicing your onion and mincing your garlic and jalapeno.
In your pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat until it’s hot, then add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent. Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue stirring for about a minute.
Add chicken broth, about 1/2 cup water, and the can of diced tomatoes and stir. At this point, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium or medium low (whichever brings it down to a simmer) and add all 3 chicken breasts whole. Cover your pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Take each chicken breast and shred it. I find the easiest way to do this is to hold it in place with one fork. With a second fork, scrape along the grain of the meat to pull off small sections. Continue until the entire breast is shredded to your desired consistency.
Return the shredded chicken to the pot and add black beans, lime juice, cumin, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste. Let everything continue to simmer for another 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
Remove from heat and serve hot!
This recipe makes a pretty big batch, and if you’re not feeding a crowd, it can easily be stored in the fridge for dinner/lunch throughout the week, or even frozen for future meals.
Cooked soup will keep in the fridge for up to a week in a sealed storage container, and you can reheat either in the microwave or on the stovetop.
If you choose to freeze it for later, separate it into single serving portions and freeze for up to 3 months. Then, when you’re ready to eat it, defrost before either heating in the microwave or on the stove.
As mentioned, this can be served as alone as an appetizer for your favorite Tex-Mex or southwest-inspired meal. You could also serve it on the side with a sandwich, salad, or quesadilla.
If, however, you want to make this the star of your meal, load it up with all the toppings! You can add starch with some rice, quinoa, corn and/or tortilla chips. Then, be sure to add a source of healthy fat, such as avocado, sour cream or Greek yogurt, or shredded cheese. Yum!
Other Recipes You’ll Love
Southwest Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small jalapeno minced
- 8 cups chicken broth low sodium
- 3 ea boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 15 oz can roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can black beans low sodium
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- juice of 1/2 lime
- fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil over medium heat, add onions and sauté until translucent
- Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for about 1 minute, stirring frequently
- Add chicken broth, about 1/2 cup water, and diced tomatoes and turn heat up to high and bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to simmer, add chicken breasts, and cook covered for 20 minutes
- Remove chicken breasts from pot and shred with a fork and return to pot
- Add black beans, lime juice, cumin, as much cilantro as you want (I generally do about 1/2 cup), and salt & pepper to taste and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes
- Serve hot with your choice of toppings.