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Make ahead meal: Chicken Tortilla Soup

March 11, 2014



Chicken tortilla soup is one of my absolute favorites but I’ve never made it at home – it always seems way too complicated and full if complex ingredients, like it took all day to make (but really, it couldn’t be more simple). So when Evan requested soups for some of our make-ahead meals, it was first on my list. Store-bought rotisserie chicken is my secret ingredient for making any delicious chicken soup. It takes a few steps out of the process and you can make your own stock from scratch which is something I love to do. This chicken tortilla soup is the right amount of spicy, savory, brothy and hearty. It was one of those meals where we couldn’t stop “Mmmmmming” and smacking our lips, and talking about how delicious a bowl of soup was. It was exciting to know that we’d have a few more servings waiting for us once baby is here. And the fact that one little store-bought rotisserie chicken could make so much food was really satisfying – like getting an extra discount at the register when the item you’re purchasing is already on sale. This soup was a true triumph! Ready to make it? Let’s go!


Chicken Tortilla Soup (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Makes about 8-10 servings


For the broth (alternately, if you don’t want to make your own stock, you can replace this step with 8-10 cups of low sodium chicken broth)

  • 1 Rotisserie Chicken, chicken removed and bones reserved
  • 10 cups hot water, or enough to cover the chicken carcass
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 large celery stocks, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful of parsley, about 1 cup
  • 1 bay leaf

For the Soup

  • Meat from rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ¼ cups diced green bell pepper
  • ¼ cups red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (10 Oz. Can) Rotel Tomatoes And Green Chilies
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cans (15 Oz. can) black beans, drained
  • 5 whole corn tortillas, cut into uniform strips around 2 to 3 inches
  • 1 tablespoons canola oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Optional toppings & add-ins

  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • avocado
  • green onion
  • lime


Have two medium-sized bowls ready. Make sure your rotisserie chicken is cool enough to handle and separate the meat from the bones, placing each in a designated bowl. Don’t worry about stripping the meat completely off the bones, just get as much as you can.

Place chicken bones (the entire carcass), carrots, onion, celery, parsley, and bay leaf in a large stock pot and fill with hot water, enough to cover all of the bones. Add about 1/4 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 3 hours uncovered. Skim any foam that appears on the surface. Strain stock to remove veggies, parsley and bay leaf. You will have about 2 quarts of stock. Return to stock pot and keep heated on medium low.

In a large pan, heat tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until sizzling. Add shredded chicken, cumin, chili, powder, garlic powder, and salt. Cook until spices are incorporated into the chicken, about 3-5 minutes. Return seasoned chicken to medium bowl and set aside. In the same  pan, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion, green and red bell pepper, and minced garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes or until onions and bell pepper begin to brown slightly. Return chicken to the pan. Cook together for another 3 minutes. Combine cooked ingredients with stock and add canned ingredients – tomatoes and green chilies, tomato paste, and black beans. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Check seasoning and add more if necessary (if you want more heat, add more chili powder, etc.). Be sure to salt well. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a small pan and fry tortilla strips until just crispy, about 2 minutes on each side. Strain onto a paper towel lined plate and add into the soup just before serving. Top with desired garnishes.


Let soup cool completely. This may take a few hours. Place into freezer-safe containers or a ziplock and freeze for up to three months. Skip the tortilla strips step and add just before serving. Just a note for you: We divided our soup into serving sizes before freezing so that we wouldn’t have to defrost more than we needed; food for thought.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2014 9:03 am

    I love tortilla soup. Pinning this now!

  2. March 11, 2014 9:32 am

    This looks fab! Definitely on my list to make.

  3. March 11, 2014 9:57 am

    This looks delicious!! I love chicken tortilla soup!

  4. March 11, 2014 10:15 am

    Looks yummy. Love the pictures!

  5. Heidy L. McCallum permalink
    March 11, 2014 1:01 pm

    This looks fantastic, love the recipe—your presentation on Chicken Tortilla Soup rocks too

  6. March 11, 2014 2:01 pm

    Yum! I love to make a big batch of soup at the beginning of the week.

  7. March 11, 2014 3:16 pm

    I love this soup! I will have to break it out again soon. Thank you for sharing and reminding me.

  8. March 11, 2014 4:07 pm

    I am now frowning upon any other chicken tortilla soup I have ever encountered! I’ve been missing out! I must give this recipe a try. ;D

    <3 Carsla
    Founder & CEO of Connect-the-Cloths
    A stylist, foodie, & writer’s blog in development.

  9. bec {daisy and the fox} permalink
    March 11, 2014 5:20 pm

    Ooo Yumm! This sounds super delicious! :)
    Thanks for the recipe!

  10. March 11, 2014 7:37 pm

    Made this tonight. Fantastic!!

  11. March 12, 2014 1:47 am

    looks like delicious.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,!!!hmmmmmmm yum..,.,!!!!

  12. March 12, 2014 2:59 pm

    Reblogged this on Pinterest: Pass or Fail and commented:
    Chicken Tortilla Soup is one of my absolute favorite soups and I admittedly have been stuck on Panera Bread’s version of it. While Panera is great, there is nothing better than a good home-made soup. I’m so excited to have found this recipe and I can’t wait to try it!

  13. March 12, 2014 4:43 pm

    looks great! definitely pinning for later :) love the site!

  14. March 13, 2014 8:19 pm

    My mouth is watering

  15. March 14, 2014 2:36 am

    looks delicious!

  16. VVernhard permalink
    March 15, 2014 8:19 am

    Reblogged this on KP28 * Soul Food.

  17. March 15, 2014 8:58 am

    Fabulous! I love the toppings!

  18. March 27, 2014 7:16 pm

    this looks fantastic. ps beautiful pictures too !!

  19. April 11, 2014 2:02 pm

    Reblogged this on glamourgirlguidedairies and commented:
    it looks so good going to make it one day for myself and loved ones .this going into my recipe box

  20. April 17, 2014 12:08 am

    Your tortilla soup looks delicious! I make a great vegetarian version, but never made one with chicken. Thanks for sharing!

  21. sab permalink
    June 18, 2014 3:16 am

    What a fantastic recepie! I must give it a go :)

  22. July 24, 2014 5:08 pm

    Reblogged this on Life & Len and commented:
    Antojo de sopa de tortilla ? Aquí una receta que me encontré y probaré pronto.

  23. February 18, 2015 11:49 pm

    This looks amazing Im always on the lookout for some soup recipes for winter – i’ll definitely be adding to the must try pile :)

  24. March 24, 2015 2:27 pm

    Adding this to my list – looks perfect for a cold night.

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