Chicken Tortilla Soup

A spicy smoky broth filled with shredded chicken, black beans, and corn, topped with crispy tortilla chips, gooey melted cheese, scallions, and sour cream.  What’s not to love?  Chicken tortilla soup is just irresistible.  Sort of like the huevos rancheros I made, it seems there are a million ways to do chicken tortilla soup, and this is just the way I like it.  I give it lots of flavor every step of the way, starting by browning the chicken in the pan and incorporating all that brown flavor into the stock, and adding some dried chiles and simmering it with the broth.  The result is a very full flavored soup with lots of spice and smokiness to it.  Please, feel free to make your own adjustments to this recipe as you see fit.


Chicken Tortilla Soup


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 oz corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 16 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 32 oz box chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper (or chili powder)
  • 4 dried pasilla chiles
  • 1 bag of tortilla chips
  • sour cream or yogurt, for garnish
  • chopped scallions, for garnish
  • lime, for garnish, optional
  • 8 oz bag shredded colby jack or pepper jack cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. Heat up a big pot over medium high heat, then add the olive oil. Season the chicken breasts generously with salt and pepper, then add to the pan. Sear for about 2-3 minutes on each side, until it’s golden brown on both sides.
  2. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and turn the heat down to medium. There should be enough liquid in the onions to pick up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Make sure to scrape those bits up. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onions have softened.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts from the pan, and add the corn, black beans, tomato paste, diced tomatoes with green chiles, chicken broth, oregano, coriander, cumin, chipotle chile pepper, and pasilla chiles. Bring the soup to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Shred up the chicken, then add it back to the pan. Simmer for 45 minutes so the flavors can meld together, and add water as needed to restore the original broth consistency. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. When the soup is done simmering, remove the pasilla chiles and discard.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Immediately add the cheese so it can melt in the hot soup. Add a handful of tortilla chips, garnish with scallions, sour cream, and a lime and serve. Enjoy!
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