Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup

Even though I did not manage to find it in any restaurant in Mexico City, this is the standard soup of choice at most Tex-Mex restaurants in the US.  I find it an efficient way to use leftover chicken (any roast chicken or rotisserie chicken would do) or the few corn tortillas that didn’t get consumed after a fajita dinner (always very popular at my place).  It is the best one pot dinner one can have on a really cold night or if you are having company over for dinner, use this as the first course and then follow it up with yummy fajitas or tacos – it is sure to impress your friends and establish you as a genuine Tex-Mex aficionado!


1.    One cup of shredded rotisserie chicken (boneless)
2.    One can of black beans
3.    One medium sized red onion
4.    One tablespoon of tomato paste
5.    One tablespoon of honey
6.    Half a red bell pepper
7.    One large or two medium sized jalapeno pepper(s)
8.    32 oz chicken broth (low sodium preferred)
9.    ½ cup of frozen sweet corn or fresh corn kernels
10.    One packet of taco seasoning (or one teaspoon on cumin, one teaspoon of paprika and one teaspoon of coriander powder)
11.    One ripe Avocado
12.    2-3 tablespoons of light sour cream
13.    ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese
14.    Two tablespoons of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
15.    One fresh lime
16.    4-5 corn tortillas
17.    Two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


1.    Peel and dice the red onion into small pieces.

2.    In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the olive oil and drop half the chopped onion into the oil (keep half of the chopped onion to use as garnish later). Keep this on low heat.
3.    Dice the red pepper and add to the pot.
4.    Remove the seeds and veins from the Jalapeno pepper and chop the green part (the flesh) of the pepper into small square pieces and drop into the pot.  Stir frequently.
5.    Open the can of beans and rinse the beans under cold water (to remove the excess salt).

6.    When the onion pieces look translucent (takes about 5-7 minutes of cooking), add the beans, shredded chicken and frozen corn to the pot and stir.

7.    While the contents of the pot are getting cooked, put half the contents of the taco seasoning packet and one tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot and stir again. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

8.    Add the chicken broth and the honey and stir the contents of the pot thoroughly.  Cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes or till the broth starts to simmer.

9.    Cut the Corn Tortillas into ribbon like pieces (about ¾ inch wide) and drop them into the pot of soup and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
10.    While the soup is still hot, add the juice of one lime.
11.    Taste for a balance of sweet, sour and savory and if you feel anything is out of sync add either more salt, honey or lime juice to suit your taste.
12.    Serve while the soup is still piping hot with shredded cheese, chopped raw onions, sour cream, diced avocado and cilantro leaves as toppings for the soup.

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  1. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 05:34

    Looks delish Shabnam.. And with the way Sydney weather has been, I am sure I will be making it very soon.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 10:50

      🙂 Let me know how it turns out Rupali! stay warm!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Tripthi on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 13:31

    This looks terrific! I’m planning to try this tomorrow, didi. Will let you know how it goes.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 19:05

      Hey Tripthi! I am sure it will turn out well – keep me posted! BTW, if you want to make it spicier, add some red chili flakes. And use sharp cheddar cheese – that makes it real good 🙂

  3. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 13:36

    Hey Shabnam – don’t the tortilla strips get mushy and start disintegrating if you boil them in the soup?

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 19:03

      Shilpa, they do get soft but that is why I added corn tortillas (thicker and sturdier) instead of flour tortillas (which tend to be thin) and I added them at the very end of the cooking process. We ate the left-over soup today and the tortillas strips held up pretty okay in spite of the overnight refrigeration and then the microwave re-heating process.

      • Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 21:47

        have you tried adding crisp tortilla strips as a garnish at the end? I’m thinking the tortillas could be sprayed with a little oil and baked in the oven to make them crisp – rather than deep friend which is how I think most restaurants do it -and they could soften as they soak in the hot soup if people like the softer texture.

        • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 30/03/2012 - 01:03

          Hmmmm…will have to try the texture of the baked tortilla chips in the soup. I just used the ones I had because I was hoping to use the leftover tortillas (I am trying very hard not to throw away any food because I feel very guilty about it) – next time I make the soup I will try the baked version – good idea to add texture to the soup.

  4. Permalink Submitted by Lakshmi on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 14:15

    Honey?! Who would have thought to add that.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 18:59

      OH, I add a bit of something sweet to pretty much everything I cook (just a little bit helps bring out the flavors of the other ingredients) – I like honey because it adds some body to the soup and also it is better for you than the alternative white granulated sugar. If you want to make this a veggie recipe, substitute chicken broth for veggie broth and instead of chicken you can try soy protein (available at Whole Foods) or Nutri-nugget (available at Indian stores).

      • Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Thu, 29/03/2012 - 21:48

        Have you used the soy protein as a meat substitute? I’m wondering how it would taste as butter “chicken” for example…

        • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 30/03/2012 - 01:03

          About the soy protein – I have used it in vegetarian chilli and it has the texture of ground beef (will post that recipe some day soon) – so it works very well there. I don’t know how it will taste in butter chicken. And I don’t know if you ever tried the Indian version of it – my mom used to make it in a regular curry like dish – as substitute for paneer in mutter-paneer. It did not have the texture of paneer but instead that of Vaddis (I wonder if you know what that is – it is a very Punjabi thing made out of various daals ground together and then the doughy lumps were put out to dry in the sun).

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