Chicken Tortilla Soup

This easy tortilla soup has been a staple at both of our houses and was in dire need of a makeover so you guys can all see how beautifully delicious it is!  This isn’t like the thick chicken tortilla soup that they have at Chili’s; it’s brothier (is that a word?) a la Cafe Rio or Costa Vida. It’s super healthy and low in calories, full of fresh, nutritious ingredients and we actually prefer it to traditional chicken soup at our house when we’re stuffed up because of the garlic, lime, and the spiciness that the jalapenos add, helping clear our heads.

Tortilla Soup

A beautifully healthy soup like this is amazing because it leaves so much room for tasty toppings.  If you use and love our Taco Chicken recipe, you can easily make that one night and just cook extra to save for this soup.  The directions call for marinating this chicken earlier in the day and then grilling it as you are preparing the soup.  I’ve done that lots of times, but I’ve also found that I like this soup even more if I don’t use leftover chicken or bother with thinking ahead to marinade and instead add all the flavors of the chicken marinade right into the soup pot.  My trick is to cut up my chicken into bitesized pieces and let it sit in the marinade, which is a flavorful mixture of lime juice and seasonings while you prep other ingredients.  I’m going to show you this version in the photos and include this option in the original recipe, below!

chopped chicken

So while your chicken is hanging out in those flavors, start by sauting onion and jalapeno.  I love using our Lime Olive Oil for this step!

lime olive oil

That will cook for just a few minutes and then you add in your chicken that was marinating.

Easy Tortilla Soup Recipe

A quick addition of some canned fire-roasted tomatoes and chicken broth are all you need to finish it up.  Let it simmer for a bit for all the flavors to blend together and you’re done!  You could easily add additional vegetables if you want, like corn and beans, but simple is totally fine here and it leaves a great canvas for toppings.  Load those bowls with anything you like.

Tortilla Soup with Toppings

We love tortilla strips, cilantro, queso fresco, and avocado.

Easy Stovetop Tortilla Soup

Perfectly easy weeknight meal!

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Easy Stovetop Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Author: kate jones


A simple and delicious chicken soup packed with Latin flavors and healthy ingredients!


  • 1 recipe Taco Chicken
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, membranes and seeds removed if you don’t want it too spicy
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 4 cans chicken broth (or 1 carton)
  • 1 15oz can diced tomatoes (we suggest fire roasted)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Optional topping suggestions:

  • tortilla strips or chips
  • guacamole or avocado
  • cotija cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • green onions


Click here for the link to the Taco Chicken Recipe.

1. Early in the day, begin marinating the chicken. Right before you start preparing the soup, start grilling it (to make it all at the same time in one pot, see notes section)

2. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and saute 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and minced jalapeno and cook a few minutes more until pepper is softened and garlic is fragrant.

3. Add chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer 15-20 minutes.

4. While soup is simmering, juice the limes and set aside.  Start preparing the toppings: grate the cheese, chop the cilantro, cut up the avocado or prepare the guacamole, and fry the tortillas.

5.  Right before serving, add lime juice and chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into the bowls and add desired toppings.


If you’d like to make the chicken all at the same time in one pot, follow these adaptations!
– Dice raw chicken into bite-sized pieces and combine in a bowl with marinade ingredients, including all seasonings, but omitting garlic and pepper. Let sit while you prep other ingredients.

– After step 2, push onion mixture to side of pan and transfer chicken to pot, including all juices/marinade.  Stir and cook until chicken is mostly cooked through and then proceed with step 3 in recipe.

–  You might want to taste the soup before adding the final lime juice in step 5 and add to taste.






  1. Dawn sent along your website to her friends and I’m super impressed! I only wish I could order your food and have it sent to my house or you could come and cook for week 🙂 They all look really great and I enjoy reading your take on getting excited about cooking…maybe you’ll be “the next food network star.”

  2. I’m going to try this for dinner tonight. I am a huge fan of the Tortilla Soup at Cafe Rio, so I’m sure I’ll love this!

  3. I did love it! As well as my husband and my kids! I’m so glad there are leftovers for lunch today. Thanks for the delicious recipe.

    You guys are awesome!

  4. kate, i just had to tell you that i made this the other day…sort of. instead of doing a soup, i made it into a salad. i didn’t have the time to marinate the chicken (will definitely try that next time!) but i still used the spices you suggested. and i tried frying up those corn strips too. so yummy! in fact, we made some tortilla chips as well. i started out with a bed of spring mix salad and baby spinach, put on the chicken and avocado with corn strips. for a dressing, we mixed salsa and ranch dressing. thanks for the inspiration!! turned out so yummy.

  5. This is one of my favorite soups so I was really excited for the recipe and it turned out really good! I forgot to wear gloves and wash my hands after cutting up the jalapeno peppers and let’s just say about 12 hours later and a call to poison control I was doing much better and was able to enjoy it. 🙂

  6. This is one of the soups that you know was made by someone who loves you. Even the kiddies ate it. Thanks for the great recipe. Question though, do you cut up the chicken and stir it into the soup or do you lay it on top? Just wondering how my leftovers will taste since I mixed my in. Thanks!

  7. I'm a BIG fan of tortilla soups at restaurants but haven't been able to find a recipie that is as good- until this one! This soup was "soup"er fabulous. 🙂 We loved the lime and garlic flavors. Seriously, the whole fam loved it and my husband and I fought over the left overs. Thanks!

  8. LOVED it! I added a can of black beans and a little sour cream! DELICIOUS! My husband even gave it a 9.5!! Plus I loved making the tortillas strips. FUN!

  9. I just wanted to say that my husband loves tortilla soup (not to mention he has a super picky pallate). I made this tonight for this cold rainy day and it was a HIT! He keeps raving about it and told me to add it to our 5-star recipes. I was shocked to see that my other 3 picky eaters even ate it up very well. I'm tossing my labor-intensive recipe out and replacing it with this one.

    Also, what a relief today. I was in no mood to dig through recipes for what to make for dinner tonight. I came here and scrolled down the amazing pictures and found what hit the spot:) Thanks for the visual treat too:)

  10. This soup is soooo yummy! We call it "magic soup"… whenever we are feeling colds come on, we make it and bam! Colds are gone! I think the garlic, jalapeno, and lime scare it away. 😉 My husband loves Cafe Rio's soup and is so, so happy that I came across this one! Love it!

  11. This is a great recipe! I had some leftover roasted chicken that I wanted to use up so I had to make some changes… Instead of the taco chicen I added 1/2 tsp of chili powder, 1/4tsp cumin, 1/2tsp oregano, and about 1tsp of sea salt. I needed some extra salt because I used homemade stock instead of canned or boxed broth. I also added about a cup of frozen corn. It made for a super frugal meal and we all really loved it!

  12. I actually just made this a couple of weeks ago for the first time and it was a BIG HIT. I fed a few guests too and every person that ate it absolutely loved it. I added a big chunk of chopped cilantro to the broth and it added a lot of flavor, and I added a few broken up corn tortillas to the broth also. Thanks for this recipe though, its seriously delicious.

  13. I have made a similar soup, but without the lime juice. Now my mouth is watering for this! I'm definitely going to try it. Also, I had to chuckle when you mentioned "EVOO" because I got a Rachel Ray cookbook from the library (I've never seen her show) and it said, "add EVOO" and I couldn't for the life of me figure out what the heck she meant! Finally I caught on, but really, is olive oil THAT hard to type (or say)?

  14. I saw you gals on KSL today! Great job!! You girls are just so dang cute.. and one of my biggest inspirations! Cant wait to buy your book : )

  15. I don't comment very often, but am addicted to your blog. Thanks for the great site and awesome recipes! (This one sure looks yummy!)It was fun to see you two on Studio 5 today.

  16. Do you not like extra virgin olive oil or do not like to say it and type it? Just curious. Can't wait to try this recipe. By the way, my husband loves all the new recipes from your blog that I spring on him and the kids. He loves, loves, loves your Key Lime Pie!

  17. How funny…this is on my list to make this week. We'll have Taco Chicken with Black Beans on the side one day then this soup the next. Oh and I'm making some extra to also use for the Southwestern Cobb.

    Actually, today I have the Chicken Caccitore in my crockpot and we had Red Beans and Rice last night.

    I guess you could say its an Our Best Bites kind of week at my house!

  18. Recipe looks yummy and I will be making it very soon. Just a quick question…your recipe says serranos are milder than jalapenos, but serranos are significantly hotter than jalapenos. I like spicy food and either would be tasty to me.

  19. This looks so tastie. I think i will have to go to the grocery to get some limes so I can make this for tonight's dinner.

  20. So I always thought serranos peppers were hotter than jalepenos and didn't question it until I saw it posted in a few of your posts. I looked this up after trying to buy a mild green salsa for your yummy taquitos and found out that jalepenos are 2,500 to 8,000 on the heat unit scale compared to 10,000 to 25,000 for serranos. The smaller they are the hotter too. Anyhow, I make thai food all the time with serranos which are crazy hot and didn't want anyone to get more than they bargained for. I love your website. You gals have totally revamped my cooking to which I will be forever indebted

  21. This has great flavor. It's a little too brothy for our liking though, so next time I'd probably cut back to only half of the chicken broth it calls for.
    Thanks for another good one!

  22. So yummy! I don't even like onions at ALL, but I'm totally gobbling them up in this soup, so it must be magical. Love the kick of the jalapenos, too. I only included one (because it's all I had on hand), but I think two would definitely be better. I also tossed in some leftover corn and black beans so I could use them up, which makes it a little heartier. Wish I had made more!

  23. This soup was fantastic! I have tried several different versions of this soup over the past 10 years and this is by far the best. I think the lime juice is what makes it rock. My husband loved it also.

  24. Yep … I’m scared of “2 jalapeno peppers” … do you think the chopped jalapeno peppers that are in the little jar next to the minced garlic and chopped ginger in the produce section would work?

    1. Meredith–If you’re worried about the heat, just use one and be sure to remove the seeds and membranes. I probably wouldn’t use jarred jalapeno peppers just because this soup tastes so fresh that they may impact that. But you can definitely control the heat. Hope that helps! 🙂

  25. How many cups does this make? I’m trying to calculate weight watchers points and I need to know servings. For soups I like to go by cup. Any idea?

  26. Maybe a silly question but how much is one can of chicken broth? I buy broth in tetra pack containers so need to figure out how many cups to use?

  27. If you look at the Scoville scale, it will tell you that Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeno peppers–not the other way around.

  28. For the comments about pepper burns on hands, slather sour cream on the burned parts of your hands and wrap in towel. Change the sour cream when it starts to burn again. And then, next time wear a latex glove. From a voice of experience.

    1. Jalepeno Pepper Burns. After being up all night with my burnt hands in a bowl of ice water, a pharmacist told me that Greased Lightning – a degreaser – would get rid of the oils from the peppers that continue to burn no matter how much ice and water you use. Gave it a shot – it worked like a charm and I finally got some much needed sleep.

  29. I made this for my family’s dinner two nights ago and they loved it! Even my boyfriend thought it was okay (high praise from him) although he said it had too many limes. Personally, I liked the flavor they added, but maybe I’ll cut it down to one or two so he does’t spend dinner moaning that he’s drowning in citric acid! haha 🙂

  30. Sorry, but serranos are NOT milder than jalapenos. Scoville for jalapenos is 2,000 – 5,000 and serranos are 5,000 to 15,000. Watch out if you use serranos instead of jalapenos, maybe anaheims (scoville not more than 2,5000) but definitely NOT serranos if you want less heat.

  31. I made this tonight and it was delicious. I had been craving chicken tortilla soup and this really hit the spot. I did use a rotisserie chicken and just shredded the meat and mixed it with the spices used for the taco chicken, then added that to the soup. That made it a really easy and quick soup to make.

  32. I made this tonight, it was amazing! I did make two changes, one, I added fresh corn, which added a hint of sweetness that was great. Two, I didn’t have enough lime juice so I cooked the onions and garlic in a lime riesling olive oil which was awesome and so limey! I also sauted my chicken in the same olive oil. It was fabulous!

  33. Absolutely delicious. I don’t have a grill, so I cook the chicken in the soup and then shredded.
    My family loved it. Thanks for the recipe.

  34. Hi

    I love all the recipe’s on the blog and feel like you guys have totally gotten me out it the cooking rut I was stuck in! So thank you!
    I had a problem with this recipe and the zip list option. The toppings (cilantro, avocado, cheese etc) are NOT put through to the zip list and I LOVE being able to use zip list to plan my weekly menu. But unfortunately it has left me toppingless the last two times I made this recipe. Pretty tragic if you ask me! So if somehow this could be fixed it would really improve my chicken tortilla soup experience!
    Thanks again for the amazing recipe’s!!!

  35. I made this for the second time last week and I was instantly transported back to Salt Lake City and Cafe Rio. The only thing I was missing was a fresh tortilla. I had plans to make them but ran out of time. This was the recipe that lead me to your site about a year half ago as I was missing Cafe Rio’s soup after moving to Cincinnati. Love it!

  36. Thank you this soup and many of your other recipes. I have made this soup every week for the past 5 weeks, plus I made it for a Christmas party and friends coming over for dinner and it was a huge hit. I double the batch not and have it all week for lunch. The only I add is frozen sweet corn.

  37. This is my new favorite soup! I have had a recipe for Chicken Tortilla soup in my recipe stack for literally years that I have been intending to make…but it has like 7537843 ingredients and has to simmer all day and it is just too intimidating so it keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the stack. Then I found this. This rivals all of the Chicken Tortilla soups I have ever eaten at restaurants and the best part is that it is SOOOO easy! I was scared of the jalapenos at first, but I went for it and they weren’t really spicy at all, just a nice background heat/flavor. My kids ate it up (even the tomatoes, onions, peppers, and avocados from the bottom of the bowl!!). My only complaint was that it did not make enough for leftovers!

  38. Ladies, my daughter made this soup the other day and mentioned what you said about Serrano peppers being milder than Jalapenos–seriously incorrect information. You really need to change the statement on the recipe for those who may not know for themselves.

    With a ranking of 5,000 to 15,000 Scoville units on the chili heat scale, Serranos are up to five times hotter than their cousin, the Jalapeño.

  39. I should have mentioned the soup is delicious but not spicy at all. In my case, the Serranos would be a better choice.

  40. GREAT soup! I added 3 tablespoons of double strength tomato paste (in tubes, usually near the pasta in your grocery store) and cooked it just a bit longer since it seemed a tad too “brothy” for us. My husband had three bowls!! My son absolutely loved it. We will certainly have this again.

  41. It’s been raining all day so I knew it was going to be soup night. I thought I’d try your recipe rather than my usual go-to tortilla soup recipe. Can I just say “WOW!?” This soup is amazing! It has so much flavor! I pulled some shredded chicken from my freezer, and added black beans and corn. Since I hadn’t marinated the chicken, I added Chili powder, cumin, and red wine vinegar directly to the soup while it was simmering. I loved how easy this soup is to make. It’s now my go-to tortilla soup recipe. Thank you so much!

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