One of my favorite reasons to eat out at Mexican restaurants (besides endless chips and salsa) is the opportunity to eat a bowl of savory, flavorful Mexican Chicken Soup. Often called Tortilla Soup, there are as many varieties as cooks and I’ve never tried one I didn’t love. The soup typically includes a variety of tender-crisp vegetables, chunks of tender chicken, a hearty, flavorful broth and cooling garnishes such as avocado, cheese, or sour cream. The best part? You can easily create your own Mexican Chicken Soup at home, for a fraction of the price, in only 30 minutes.
My version starts with a base of carrots, celery, and onion, sautéed in olive oil until softened. Stir in garlic, jalapeños, cumin, and coriander for warmth and flavor, then add in chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, and fresh cilantro. The cilantro is optional, of course; substitute fresh parsley or omit it entirely if you dislike cilantro (as so many do). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in cooked chicken and you’re done. It’s really that easy. At some restaurants, the soup includes chunks of potato and it’s fantastic. I don’t include it here, but if you happen to have a leftover baked potato on hand, feel free to cube it and add it with the chicken in Step 3.
If you don’t have cooked chicken on hand, you can easily bake chicken (rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper) in a 350°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Both chicken breast and dark meat such as chicken thighs will work; remove and discard the skin and bones, if applicable, before shredding. You can also try my method for Easy Skillet Poached Chicken if you’d rather cook the chicken on your stove top.
This is one of those legendary recipes in my household: My husband is shocked that something so tasty could be so good for you. Depending on how you garnish, this soup can be gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, or Paleo. In all cases, it is delicious and satisfying!
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 c. chicken broth
- 1 (14 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground coriander seed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 T. chopped fresh cilantro, optional
- 2 c. cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
- Sliced avocado, shredded cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips, for serving
- In a large saucepan, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, celery, and carrots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened and the onion has started to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, tomatoes and juice, jalapeño, cumin, coriander, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, and cilantro, if using.
- Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in chicken and serve, offering avocado, cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips on the side.