a super flavorful & super easy chicken tortilla soup recipe. this tortilla soup is made extra flavorful thanks to juicy chicken thighs, tender sweet potatoes, & your favorite light beer. made in 35 minutes or less on the stovetop, chicken tortilla soup is the perfect comforting weeknight dinner for any chilly night this fall or winter!
the cozy continues today on plays well with butter with another soup month recipe!
in case you missed it, february is all about cozy, comforting soup here on pwwb. so far we’ve talked about my favorite hearty minestrone soup recipe & my dear grandpa clarence’s hawaiian beef stew (in the instant pot!).
& man oh man, guys, i still have a couple more deliciously cozy soup recipes to share with you still yet this month: my lightened-up version of a classic, soup’s carbalicious bff done easy, & today’s recipe…weeknight chicken tortilla soup!
an easy chicken tortilla soup recipe, perfect for weeknight cooking!
does the internet really need another chicken tortilla soup recipe?!?
when i set out to create recipes for soup month, i asked you guys over on instagram what soups you love most, & chicken tortilla soup quickly rose to the top. not too surprising, right? chicken tortilla soup is comforting, spicy (but not too!), & the perfect excuse to pile ALL OF THE TOPPINGS on top of a bowl & call it dinner.
i mean. does it get better than that?!
but. the internet is already filled with chicken tortilla soup recipes. & in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” spirit, i promised myself that i wouldn’t post a chicken tortilla soup recipe unless i could create one that really felt worthy of adding another chicken tortilla soup recipe into the internet universe.
specifically, a chicken tortilla soup that is…
- super weeknight-friendly, easy enough for even the most “crap, it’s 5 pm & i don’t know what to make for dinner” nights…
maxed out on flavor, despite not slow cooking or simmering away for hours…
- & most importantly, equally healthy & hearty. because february weather is depressing, & there’s nothing better than diving into a cozy bowl that’s as good for your body as it is for your soul.
(related note: do i overthink things, or what?! ?)
lucky for us, this chicken tortilla soup recipe is a winner on all 3 fronts: it’s weeknight-friendly, flavorful, healthy AND hearty.
this weeknight chicken tortilla soup delivers on all of the flavor you want out of any chicken tortilla soup, & then some: tender pieces of chicken with loads of black beans in a rich & spicy tomato-y broth.
i amp the flavor in this chicken tortilla soup up a few notches with some secret ingredients: chicken thighs (which add so much more flavor to the soup than boneless, skinless breasts!), beer (which adds an addictive richness & depth of flavor to the broth), & tons of garlic (aka…my fave soup secret!).
& the best part: this chicken tortilla soup is so flavorful that you’ll hardly believe you whipped it up in less than 40 minutes, start to finish! aside from chopping up some onions, peppers, & sweet potatoes, hardly any prep work is involved in prepping it. it’s truly a “toss it in the pot & let it simmer” kind of recipe, perfect for even the busiest weeknights.
(& coming home to a quick & easy & mega-flavorful & cozy AF chicken tortilla soup after a busy day at the office? it seriously does not get better than that.)
what is in chicken tortilla soup: chicken tortilla soup ingredients
my chicken tortilla soup calls for a lot of the usual chicken tortilla soup suspects, but i threw in a couple of extra special ingredients to add max out on flavor without any extra cooking time.
starring in this chicken tortilla soup line-up, we have:
- sweet potatoes
- taco spices (chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika)
- crushed tomatoes
- black beans
- stock or broth
- & most importantly: toppings!
first & foremost, i really love using chicken thighs in chicken tortilla soup. chicken thighs cook in less time than thicker chicken breasts, they stay nice & juicy even after being shredded, & their richer flavor enhances the flavor of the tomato-y broth so much more than chicken breasts. if you don’t love chicken thighs, you can definitely swap them out with chicken breasts, but if you’re up for trying something a little different, definitely give them a try!
another easy way to add extra flavor to chicken tortilla soup is by adding some beer. beer is one of my favorite soup & chili secret ingredients (it’s pretty much the star of the show in my white chili recipe!). in this recipe the chicken tortilla soup doesn’t end up tasting like beer at all, but the beer adds a ton of richness & depth of flavor to the broth. i use our go-to light beer (pbr!) since we always have some in our fridge, but a darker or richer beer would add even more beer flavor. ? if you’re not a fan of cooking with beer, you can always swap it out with extra chicken stock – no biggie!
& lastly, the one ingredient that takes this chicken tortilla soup totally over the top is as simple as could be: a lime. the chicken tortilla soup will simmer away, developing really rich, beautiful flavor, & simply finishing it off with the juice of 1 lime really brings it back to life. each bite is perfectly balanced, both with just the right amount of richness & brightness. pro tip: don’t skip the lime juice!
how to make chicken tortilla soup
like i’ve mentioned, it was really important to me that this chicken tortilla soup recipe be easy to make, even on a weeknight when you don’t have a dinner game plan. (really: especially on a weeknight when you don’t have a dinner game plan.)
making this chicken tortilla soup just takes a couple of really easy steps:
- browning chicken
- cooking aromatics
- simmering the soup
- & most importantly…piling on all the toppings
browning is pretty simple! heat up some olive oil in your favorite dutch oven or soup pot, generously season some boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cook them for a few minutes per side to develop a nice golden-brown crust. the chicken will cook all the way through when it simmers in the broth later on, so at this point you’re really just looking for some nice color to create the base layer of flavor for your tortilla soup.
aromatics come next! set the chicken aside, & add all of the veggies & aromatics to the pot: onions, peppers, sweet potatoes & spices. the veggies will soften slightly & the heat of the pot will sort of awaken the spices, drawing out all of their flavors & aromas. your kitchen will begin to smell seriously good.
assemble & simmer. next up is deglazing with some beer. carefully pour the beer into the soup pot. it’ll whoosh & simmer up immediately – this is good! use a wooden spoon to scrape up any crusty browned bits from the bottom of the pan (= flavor central!), & let the beer reduce slightly before adding in some chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, garlic (yes – a whole head!), & all of the browned chicken.
the chicken tortilla soup will bubble & simmer away, until the chicken is fully cooked & the flavors of the spices, veggies, beer, & tomatoes all begin to meld together (insert heart eyes here! ???). at this point you’ll shred the chicken & add it back into the pot with some black beans & the magic ingredient: lime juice. let it simmer for a little, & then you’re ready to serve!
& lastly, it wouldn’t be chicken tortilla soup without a pile of toppings, so load ‘em on strong & proud! a short list of my go-tos?: avocado, greek yogurt, extra lime juice, crispy fried tortilla strips, & a handful of chopped cilantro. (maybe two handfuls.)
if life gets better than this, i don’t even know how…?
if you love this weeknight chicken tortilla soup recipe, here are a few other amazing soup, stew & chili recipes you have to try!
- my favorite white chili with pulled chicken & beer
- chipotle turkey chili with chickpeas & kale
- my favorite hearty minestrone soup
- bacon beer cheese broccoli cheddar soup
- more easy mexican comfort food: vegetarian enchiladas skillet
- all pwwb weeknight recipes
thank you so much for reading & supporting plays well with butter. this post includes affiliate links for products i truly love & use on the reg in my own home. all opinions are always my own! should you make a purchase using one of these links, pwwb with earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me continue to bring you great original content. ???Print
a super flavorful & super easy chicken tortilla soup recipe. this tortilla soup is made extra flavorful thanks to juicy chicken thighs, tender sweet potatoes, & your favorite light beer. made in 35 minutes or less on the stovetop, this tortilla soup is the perfect comforting weeknight dinner for any chilly night this fall or winter!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt & ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced into ½ inch cubes
- 2 jalapenos, deseeded & diced (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 12-ounce light beer (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 14-ounce can crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes
- 32 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper discarded (see Recipe Notes)
- 2 14-ounce cans black beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 lime, juiced
- for serving, as desired: tortilla strips, diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt, lime wedges, cilantro – whatever you love!
- Brown the chicken: Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Use paper towel to pat the chicken thighs as dry as possible, then season generously with 1 teaspoon each Kosher salt & ground black pepper. Add the chicken to the Dutch oven. Cook on both sides for 2-3 minutes, until browned – the chicken will not be fully cooked at this point, and that is fine! Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
- Cook the aromatics: Add the yellow onion, sweet potato, and jalapenos to the same Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Season with ½ teaspoon each Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften slightly, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, & cumin. Stir to combine, then cook for 1-2 minutes to toast the spices.
- Assemble the chicken tortilla soup: Deglaze the pot with the beer, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high. Let the beer bubble and reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes, chicken stock, garlic and reserved browned chicken to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
- Shred the chicken: Remove the chicken from the soup. Use a pair of tongs or two forks to shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces.
- Finish the chicken tortilla soup: Add the shredded chicken back into the soup, along with the black beans and lime juice. Stir to combine. Let the soup simmer for 5 more minutes, until heated through.
- Serve the chicken tortilla soup in bowls, topped with your favorite tortilla soup toppings! Tortilla strips, diced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, extra lime juice, chopped cilantro – whatever you love. Enjoy!
- Dutch oven: I like making this chicken tortilla soup, and all the soups & chilis I make, in a nice Dutch oven. The heaviness of the pot retains heat well & evenly. This is the Dutch oven pictured in this post. I love it. I also own this Dutch oven, which is a little more budget-friendly & works great!
- Spiciness: I’m fairly tolerant to spiciness, & I LOVE a good tortilla soup with a kick of heat. I find 2 jalapenos, 1 seeded & 1 left whole, to add the perfect amount of spice to this chicken tortilla soup. If you LOVE heat, leave the seeds in both jalapenos. If you don’t love heat, seed both jalapenos. To make a mild chicken tortilla soup, just swap out the jalapeno with a bell pepper.
- Beer adds so much depth of flavor to this chicken tortilla soup, without making it taste like beer. I like to use whatever light beer we have on hand in our fridge (usually our trusty PBR). If you want more pronounced beer flavor, use a richer/darker beer (like IPA). If you want to skip the beer, replace it with an equal amount of chicken stock/broth.
- Garlic: A whole head?! Heck yes! It’s my favorite hack to adding TONS of flavor to store-bought stock with hardly any effort. Halve the head of garlic crosswise, exposing the cloves. Use your fingers to rub off & remove any excess paper, then just toss it on into the pot! Remove the garlic when you serve the soup – or squeeze those cloves right into the soup for an occasional bite of garlicky heaven.
- Slow cooker instructions: While I absolutely love being able to build flavor for this easy chicken tortilla soup by cooking it on the stovetop, I get it – sometimes a slow cooker is a gal’s weeknight bff. To slow cook: Add listed ingredients, chicken thighs through garlic, to a slow cooker. Season with 1 ½ teaspoons each Kosher salt and ground black pepper. Stir to combine. Slow cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. Finish the soup according to Steps 4-6 of Recipe Directions.
- Instant pot instructions: I don’t think you’ll save too much time making this chicken tortilla soup recipe in the Instant Pot, so I don’t necessarily recommend using an Instant Pot to make this recipe. If your heart is set on giving it a try, I’d use the pot’s sauté feature to brown & cook according to Steps 1-2 of Recipe Directions, then assemble the soup according to Step 3 & cook on manual high pressure for 7-8 minutes. Quick release the pressure in the pot, then finish the soup according to Steps 4-6 of Recipe Directions.
Keywords: chicken tortilla soup, tortilla soup