Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I didn’t use to be a fan of soup. I don’t know if that was one of those things that I turned my nose up at when I was a kid or if my mom just wasn’t a soup person and so she never made it. Regardless, the only soup I ate for years and years and years was Campbell’s chicken noodle or tomato. But when I started cooking for myself, I figured out two important things about soup: It’s generally healthy (even the creamier ones still have vegetables) and it’s really easy to make. Throw some stuff in a pot and you just made soup! I realize that making soup probably isn’t a big deal for some people, but for me, who only ate soup from a can for 20 plus years? Making homemade soup is something I feel proud of, the same way I feel about making homemade bread.

This winter I’ve been craving lots of soup since we finally live in a place that gets cold, so I’ve been expanding my soup repertoire. I usually make it once a week but I’ve been having trouble finding a low-fat soup that I really love. Until now that is. This Chicken Tortilla Soup is hands-down my favorite soup. Possibly ever.

The original recipe I adapted had ground meat and I’m not a big fan of ground turkey or beef, so instead, I used chicken and decided to shred it up like you find in other Mexican dishes. I also made several other changes like adding fresh cilantro (one of my favorite smells) and adjusting the spiciness. I can’t eat super spicy food, and I found this to be perfect: not crazy spicy, but definitely not bland. If you like things really spicy you may want to add a jalapeno or some chilies, but that’s way more than I can handle. I also added in some Tumeric. Why you ask? Well, go read this post of the awesomeness that is tumeric (seriously, I’ll wait) and tell me you don’t want to add it to everything now. Actually, you should really read all the posts on that blog because it’s truly enlightening and informative if you’re trying to eat healthier.

This soup has a lot of ingredients (mostly spices), but it’s still extremely easy to make. This recipe makes a lot of soup, I’m probably being conservative with the number of servings, but I love making a big batch and eating the leftovers for lunch the rest of the week.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

By Back to the Cutting Board. Adapted from One Healthy Mama

Soup | Servings: 6
Prep time: 30 min | Cook time: 30 min | Total time: 1 hour


  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (omit for less spice)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (4-6 oz. each)
  • 16 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes or 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped (remove ribs and seeds for less spice)
  • 12 oz. frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, divided
  • 1 cup 2% milk shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • 4 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


  1. In a large stockpot or dutch oven (at least 4-5 quarts), heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  2. Add all spices to the pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in chicken broth and stir well.
  3. Add chicken breasts to the broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat back to medium. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Transfer chicken to a large bowl or cutting board and shred with two forks. Set aside. (This can be done the day before and stored in the fridge.) Tip: For faster shredding, cut chicken into large chunks and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until the chicken is shredded.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, add tomatoes, carrots, green pepper, and jalapeno to a blender or food processor and mix until blended, but still chunky. Process longer for a smoother soup or shorter for a chunkier soup.
  5. Add the shredded chicken, tomato mixture, corn, beans, and 1/2 cup cilantro to the pot. Add an additional cup (or more) of chicken broth if you find the soup too thick for your tastes. Decrease heat slightly and simmer, partly covered, until the corn is tender and the soup is thoroughly heated, at least 30 minutes or up to an hour. Taste and add salt if necessary.
  6. When the soup is almost ready, preheat your broiler. Place tortillas on a baking sheet (you may need to do two at a time) and put under your broiler for 1 to 2 minutes or until browned and crispy, then turn over and toast the other side. Watch closely so you don’t burn them. Cool for about 5 minutes (they get crispier as they cool) and then break into strips.
  7. Ladle soup into a bowl and top with a handful of tortillas and a couple of tablespoons of cheese. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro. Squeeze a wedge of lime over it just before serving.

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  1. This sounds great and I’m bookmarking it right now. My hubby will love it.
    I jumped over to Get Better, and have to say thanks for sharing such an awesome blog!
    .-= michelle´s last blog ..Sweet potato slaw =-.

  2. Ditto! Just bookmarked it. I’ve been in the habit of making a big batch of soup on Sunday and splitting it into tupperwares to take for lunches during the week. This one is on the menu for next week! Thanks! 😉

  3. Two of my favorites! Tortilla and chicken in one dish is heaven for me! Thanks for sharing! This is perfect for the cold weather, too!

  4. Missing the Nutrient Analysis – would love to know sodium count, fat grams etc.

    • I’m not really into counting calories and stuff like that, Betsy, but there are websites where you can plug in the ingredients of a recipe and it will give you an analysis. I’ve used a bunch of times. It gives lots of good info.

  5. I love chicken tortilla soup! I’ve made a few different versions, but haven’t found one that is my favorite yet. Have you ever gone to max and erma’s? They make the most incredible chicken tortilla soup ever. it’s spicy, but sooo good
    .-= megan´s last blog ..Easy Fudgy Brownies =-.

  6. Excellent illustrations and wonderful recipes! Very neat blog.
    I am a culinary scientist and any time you need a guest blogger, let me know. Check me out:
    .-= George Erdosh´s last blog ..PROTEIN POISONING =-.

  7. Just found your site via foodgawker and this soup looks great…do you think it could be modified to slow cooker? Any suggestions as to how? Thanks
    I’ve already book marked some of your recipes!

    • I don’t have a slow cooker myself, so I’m not sure about the specifics. But this soup is pretty simple, just throw all the ingredients in the pot and let it simmer, so I would assume that you could do pretty much the same thing in a slow cooker.

      I just googled and found some tips here. Looks like you would need to cook on high for an hour and then turn it down to low. Wait to add the spices until the last hour because they will lose flavor if cooked for a long time. You’d also want to wait to add the corn and cooked chicken in the last hour so they don’t get overcooked. And since this soup is already very liquidy you may want to reduce the chicken broth by 1/2 cup or more since it won’t boil. You can always add in more later if it gets too thick.

  8. Hi! By green pepper, do you mean Bell Pepper or a chilli?

    • I meant bell pepper, sorry for the confusion. BUT, if you like things extra spicy definitely feel free to substitute or add any kind of chili pepper you like! I believe the original recipe did have a chili pepper, but I changed it because I’m kind of wuss when if comes to spicy stuff. 😉

  9. I made this soup last night for myself and my boyfriend, and while he was a little hesitant at first, as he smelled it cooking, he got more and more excited. This was absolutely delicious!! I added anaheim peppers along with the green bell pepper, and added an extra clove of garlic, but other than that, this recipe was great. It is definitely one I will use again.
    P.S. The bf took it to work today, and it was already gone by lunchtime :).

  10. Happy National Tortilla Chip Day! What’s on our menu… Tortilla Soup from @Emiline220 #recipe #gf

  11. I just made this and it was SO yummy!!! I did add three small potatoes and three medium carrots(besides the two I blended). Will definitely be on my list for a regular meal.

  12. This soup looks so delicious! Does the recipe call for 3 chicken breasts that are 6 ounces each or 6 ounces total? Thanks!

    • Thanks Kristin! Sorry the recipe wasn’t clear. It’s supposed to be 3 pieces of chicken. 6 ounces is about the average size of a piece of skinless, boneless chicken. 2 pieces of chicken works fine, too. It just depends on how much chicken you like in your soup. Personally, I prefer 2 pieces of chicken but I add in some extra corn.

  13. AMAZING recipe! I shared it with my friends and they all rave about it.
    I used Poblano peppers instead of green peppers and it was perfect (jalapeño are too hot for me as well but the green peppers are too bland IMHO Poblano are right in between).
    Thanks again for for this wonderful recipe.

  14. How many calories are in a serving?