Chicken Tortilla Soup (In 20 Minutes!)

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20 MINUTE cheesy and creamy chicken tortilla soup. EVERYONE goes crazy over this simple soup! via chelseasmessyapron.com #comfortfood #soup #chicken #cheesy #tortilla #dinner #lunch #cheesy #creamy #easy #quick #20minute

This Chicken Tortilla Soup is an explosion of flavor and better than any restaurant version! With a few shortcuts, this soup can be ready and on the table in about 20 minutes, making it the perfect easy weeknight meal! We’ve got savory black beans, tender chicken, crisp corn, loads of cheesy goodness, and finish it off with crunchy tortilla strips — yum!

Overhead image of Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

You might think there is no way this soup can be ready in only 20 minutes. But I’m here to tell you, no gimmicks: yes, this soup really can be ready in 20 minutes. And this is not one of those ok-ish meals that might have started in a box and you’re alright eating because it only took 15-20 minutes to make. It’s a knock-your-socks-off flavor-packed soup you’d be proud to serve to company!

Coming from someone who genuinely loves to cook and sometimes spends all day in the kitchen, there are days when you just really need a 20-minute meal that still feels and tastes completely homemade. Like, when both boys have the flu and you think you might be getting it too…which just so happens to be how this soup originated.  🙂

It’s adapted from a couple of reader favorites on my site — this Chicken Chili and this Crockpot Tortilla Soup but we’re making it a bit cheesier, exchanging a chili for more of a soup consistency, changing up the spices a little, using some rotisserie chicken, and ensuring it’s ready to eat in 20 minutes instead of 4-6 hours.  🙂

Process shots-- images of the onion, garlic, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, corn, chili beans, and black beans being added to a pot

SHORTCUTS

Still skeptical about 20-minutes? Let’s break it down!

Soup Shortcuts

  • Buy pre-chopped produce. In order to have such a short prep time, we rely on shortcuts for the produce. Grab pre-diced onion from the produce section of your store or frozen diced onions. Next, we’ll use jarred minced garlic and with these two short-cuts, there is no chopping required!
  • Rotisserie chicken. For the fastest possible prep time, I recommend getting rotisserie chicken meat that has already been pulled from the bones and shredded. Or if you’re a seasoned meal prepper, shred an extra chicken ahead of time, so when it comes to making this soup, you already have shredded meat ready in the fridge or freezer.
  • Chicken stock. A high-quality, flavorful stock adds loads of flavor and allows us to cut down on spices or other seasonings. We highly recommend Swanson’s® chicken stock. We like the chicken stock best in this chicken tortilla soup recipe, but chicken broth works fine as well (you may need a touch of extra salt).

Process shots of Chicken Tortilla Soup-- Images of chicken stock, seasonings, and cream cheese being added and cooked together

How To Make Chicken Tortilla Soup

Now that we’ve discussed short-cuts let’s do a quick breakdown of the process for making this soup.

  1. Sauté: Heat the olive oil and add the diced onion. While the onion is sautéing, you can start opening up the cans and rinsing the black beans. Add in the garlic and give that a quick sauté.
  2. Add in the cans: Now it’s all about dumping everything in — enchilada sauce, beans, corn, more beans, diced tomatoes, and finally the chicken stock. There is literally no prep here beyond opening cans and adding them into the pot! 
  3. Bring to a boil: Once everything is in, we want to bring the soup to a boil. While it heats, you can measure and add in the seasonings. This is also the perfect time to melt the cream cheese in the microwave and grate the cheese (see “quick tip” below).
  4. Finish: Once the soup is boiling, whisk in the cream cheese and briskly mix until incorporated. Remove the soup from the heat and stir in the cheese, which will melt quickly. Finally, mix in the rotisserie chicken and the soup is ready to serve!

QUICK TIP

If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you can have freshly grated cheese in a flash!

Process shots-- images of the cheese and chicken being added to the pot and mixed together

How Do I Thicken Chicken Tortilla Soup?

As this soup cools a bit and stands, it does thicken up substantially! If you’re hoping for more of a chili consistency as opposed to soup, start with less chicken stock (add only 2 cups).

Chicken Tortilla Soup Toppings

While this soup is great as is, the toppings truly seal the deal. Of course, we still want the toppings to be quick and easy, so choose 2-3 of your favorites–whatever can be ready the quickest in your home! 

  • Start with tortilla strips (this is chicken tortilla soup after all!). To keep things quick and easy, grab some at the store, or if you’re feeling ambitious and have extra time, try these homemade seasoned tortilla strips. If you can’t find tortilla strips, try some crushed tortilla chips instead.
  • Layer on the avocados. I like to chop an avocado and put it in the soup. The avocado adds a cooling and refreshing creaminess.
  • Drizzle on some fresh lime juice. We like to add a few squeezes of lime to the entire soup and then serve bowls with an extra wedge. The lime adds such a great brightness and freshness to the soup.
  • If you are a cilantro fan, load up your bowl with some finely chopped cilantro. If you aren’t a cilantro fan, just skip it!
  • Pico de gallo — a spoonful of homemade or store-bought pico de gallo is always a fun addition.
  • Finish with sour cream. Sour cream just amps up the creaminess of this chicken tortilla soup and if you use fat-free sour cream, you won’t be adding quite as many calories!

QUICK TIP

To make your own baked tortilla strips: Stack 2-3 corn or flour tortillas and slice in half. Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch strips and place on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet. Toss with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread into an even layer and bake until golden brown and crisp (turn halfway through) about 7-10 minutes.

Overhead image of Chicken Tortilla Soup in a bowl with a spoonful being taken out

STORAGE

Chicken Tortilla Soup Storage

Leftover chicken tortilla soup will keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Don’t boil the soup or reheat it at a high temperature; this can cause the ingredients to separate or curdle.

Because of all of the dairy in this soup, it isn’t a great candidate for freezing and thawing. The milk solids will separate as the soup thaws, resulting in a grainy texture with a lot of separation.

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Chicken Tortilla Soup

4.91 from 32 votes
This Chicken Tortilla Soup is an explosion of flavor and better than any restaurant version! With a few shortcuts, this soup can be ready and on the table in about 20 minutes, making it the perfect easy weeknight meal! We've got savory black beans, tender chicken, crisp corn, loads of cheesy goodness, and finish it off with crunchy tortilla strips -- yum!
Print Recipe

Chicken Tortilla Soup

4.91 from 32 votes
This Chicken Tortilla Soup is an explosion of flavor and better than any restaurant version! With a few shortcuts, this soup can be ready and on the table in about 20 minutes, making it the perfect easy weeknight meal! We've got savory black beans, tender chicken, crisp corn, loads of cheesy goodness, and finish it off with crunchy tortilla strips -- yum!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chicken tortilla soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 634kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $11.73

Equipment

  • 5.5 quart pot (cast iron will heat quicker)
  • Whisk

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (100g) diced yellow onion, optional -- See Note 1
  • 1 teaspoon minced (jarred) garlic
  • 1 can (10 oz.; 283g) red enchilada sauce (we use mild Old El Paso)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.; 411g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles added in, undrained
  • 1 can (16 oz.; 454g) chili beans in mild sauce
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.; 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 cups (200g) frozen corn (or 1 can drained corn)
  • 3 and 1/4 cups chicken stock (or broth) Note 2
  • 3/4 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces (113g) full-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package (8 oz.; 226g) sharp Cheddar cheese, freshly grated -- Note 3
  • 2 cups (250g) pre-shredded rotisserie chicken Note 4
  • Toppings of choice: tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado, fresh lime, pico de gallo, and fresh cilantro Note 5

Instructions

  • ONION AND GARLIC: Place a large cast-iron pot or regular pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add in the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally for 3-4 minutes. (While the onion is sautéing, open up cans and drain/rinse black beans.) Add in the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds or until fragrant.
  • EVERYTHING ELSE IN: Increase the heat to high. Pour in the enchilada sauce, the undrained fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained chili beans, drained and rinsed black beans, corn, and chicken stock or broth. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. While the soup is coming to a boil, add in the cumin, paprika, and chili powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I add 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Stir again. 
  • CHEESES AND CHICKEN: Meanwhile, warm the cream cheese in the microwave until very soft. Once the soup is boiling, stir in the cream cheese. Let that melt down a bit while you grate the Cheddar cheese. Using a whisk, briskly whisk the soup until the cream cheese completely melts into the soup and incorporates. Remove soup from heat and add in the grated cheese. Stir until melted and then stir in the rotisserie chicken.
  • SERVE: Ladle soup into bowls and serve with your favorite toppings such as tortilla strips, sour cream, avocado, fresh lime, pico de gallo, fresh cilantro, etc. -- whatever you like best! Enjoy!
  • STORAGE/LEFTOVERS: Leftover soup will keep well in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pot over low heat, stirring frequently, until heated through. Don't boil the soup or reheat it at a high temperature; this can cause the ingredients to separate or curdle. Because of all of the dairy in this soup, it isn't a great candidate for freezing and thawing. The milk solids will separate as the soup thaws, resulting in a grainy texture with a lot of separation.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Onion and garlic: In order to have such a quick prep time, we rely on produce shortcuts. Grab pre-diced onion from the produce section of your store or frozen diced onions. Or leave out the onion altogether! Next, we’ll use jarred minced garlic and with these two shortcuts, there is no chopping required!
Note 2: Chicken stock: A high-quality, flavorful stock adds loads of flavor and allows us to cut down on spices or other additions. We highly recommend Swanson’s® chicken stock. We like the chicken stock best in this chicken tortilla soup recipe, but chicken broth works fine as well (you may need a bit of extra salt).
Note 3: Cheese: Yes! This is supposed to be a quick recipe, but we highly recommend getting cheese in a block and grating the cheese for the best texture. Pre-grated cheese contains preservatives that keep the shreds from clumping together in the bag, but they also keep the cheese from melting smoothly in this soup. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, you can have freshly grated cheese in a flash!
Note 4: Rotisserie chicken. For the fastest possible prep time, I recommend getting rotisserie chicken meat that has already been pulled from the bones and shredded. Or if you’re a seasoned meal prepper, shred an extra chicken ahead of time, so when it comes to making this soup, you already have shredded meat ready in the fridge or freezer.
Note 5: Toppings: While this soup is tasty straight out of the pot, the toppings truly seal the deal, delivering an unforgettable meal so don't skimp on these! Our must-haves: sour cream, fresh lime, and tortilla strips!

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 634kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 1748mg | Potassium: 875mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1391IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 429mg | Iron: 6mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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Recipe Rating




71 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    We love Tortilla soup. This recipe is really good. The cream cheese and adding the cheddar cheese make it thicker and very tasty.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! I have four kids ages 6 to 12 and ALL enjoyed it. That, never happens. Can’t wait for the next recipe.

  3. I just found your blog and love it so far. I’m going through pinning everything that I want to try!

    I’m definitely going to try this soup. Cheese quesadillas would be great served with this, I bet. Kinda like serving grilled cheese with your soup…

    1. Ahh you’re so sweet, thank you!! You’ll love this soup! And exactly it’s like the grilled cheese to your soup! 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    I made this soup and my husband loved it! I made bone broth from the leftovers of smoked chicken and used that broth in place of regular. It was to die for.

  5. I still remember the first time I ate the chicken tortilla soup is when my mom cooked this for me due to my fever and since then, I have been addicted to it. I even asked my mom to make it at least once a week. When I grew up a little bit, I could cook it by myself but I always consider food made by mom is the best. Well I’m going to call my mom to ask for one as soon as I come back home next month xD
    – Natalie

  6. 5 stars
    This is the best soup ever! It’s super yummy and I make it at least once a week. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  7. I made this last week, the only thing I did different was increasing the spices x 4. It was so good!! My daughter loved it, so we’re making it again this week. Also we made the Green Chicken Chili as well, another winner!! Thanks for the yummy goodness.

    1. Thanks Erica! I’m sorry I haven’t personally tested freezing this soup, but I don’t think it would be a great candidate for freezing because of all the dairy in it (dairy doesn’t typically freeze well and will separate upon reheating). If you still want to try, I’d recommend freezing it before adding the cream cheese and cheddar cheese and add those upon reheating. 🙂

      1. Yes, it freezes well. I’ve never had a problem with it separating. Allow it to thaw or put in hot water. I double the recipe and freeze a serving size in ziploc freezer bags.

  8. 5 stars
    When I told my husband I was going to try this recipe, he didnt think he would like it. he apoligized to me and told me it was awsome! I had to agree!

  9. Could I make this in my crockpot? I have some chicken breast that I want to use up, and I prefer to have shredded chicken made in the crockpot for soups!

  10. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and it was delicious! Will definitely make it again! I did add a little more broth, so it would be a little thinner, but other than that it was great!

  11. 5 stars
    So yummy! Most importantly my 6 year old, 4 year old, 2 year old, 11 month old, and 38 year old 😉 boys (each picky in one way or another) all loved it and finally ate their dinner without complaint and made sure I knew this was a winner I should make again. This NEVER happens! Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  12. I can’t wait to make this! I have been looking for a good recipe for chicken tortilla soup for a few YEARS since a coworker brought some in for us to try. This is the first recipe I have found that looks like the one she made us! Thank you. It looks delicious. Can’t wait.

      1. 5 stars
        I made this soup for the first time last week….. Since then we have made it two more times.. so THREE times in one week! My kids love it (even my oldest daughter who is so picky and refuses to try anything new!) We definitely have a new favorite! Thank you.

  13. 5 stars
    This came out perfect! I tweaked it a little, to my own liking. I added 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and 2 cans of corn. I may have added more enchilada sauce as well. Also used hatch green chiles.

  14. 5 stars
    Made this for a Management meeting. Quick prep and cook time, I doubled the batch (loved that feature when you print out). Everyone enjoyed it and had plenty to share with other employees. Keeping this recipe for future use. Thank you!

  15. 5 stars
    This soup is so delicious it’s become my signature dish.

    And it’s versatile as heck.

    My parents don’t like the cheesy broth – no problem, half the cream cheese and remove the cheddar.

    Cooking for myself? Stirfry a poblano pepper or two with the onion, add the whole block of cream cheese, use Del Monte southwest corn (do NOT use Green Giant’s “Mexicorn”, it’s just corn with a little bit of bell pepper and a lot of added sugar… blech) and use an extra can of it, use hot chili beans, and octuple the garlic and cayenne pepper. I like my soup spicy and chunky, thanks.

    Feeling virtuous? Switch out the chicken stock for vegetable stock, omit the cheese and chicken, stirfry some bell peppers (and a poblano if you’re me) with the onion, throw some spinach in in the last few minutes and you’ve got a delicious southwest vegetable bean soup.

    It even works with leftover thanksgiving turkey if you’re that desperate to get it used up.

  16. 5 stars
    I thought this was delicious and so easy for a chilly weeknight dinner!! My fiancé thought it needed more spices so I’ll probably triple them next time but I loved this.

  17. 5 stars
    This soup is easy to make and so so good! When I cooked the chicken beforehand, I used smoked paprika and the other spices for even more flavor. I also split the soup at the very end and added half a can of chopped jalapeños to spice it up for my husband and me (the other non-spicy soup for my kiddo). We all really enjoyed this delicious meal.

  18. 5 stars
    Hi Chelsea, I LOVE your site, but today I was trying to figure out the calories in this soup without any cheese, and it definitely didn’t come out right. Without the cheeses, I got 30 calories per serving. 8 oz. sharp cheddar has 900 calories and 4 oz. cream cheese has almost 400. 8 times 185 = 1480 – 1300 = 180 calories in the whole pot.

    1. Thanks Joan! Thanks for your kind comment! 🙂 We try to be as accurate as possible on nutrition facts, but we do use a 3rd party software that may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, specific brands used, and ingredient sizes.

  19. 5 stars
    Just found this recipe and love it. Thank you so much. I did leave out the chili beans and it still was perfect!!

  20. 5 stars
    This soup was so easy and delicious! I followed the recipe exactly except I didn’t use canned enchilada sauce, I make my own from my homemade veggie broth. The flavors just really blended well and the cilantro and lime toppings are a must! Thanks for such and easy and delicious recipe

  21. 5 stars
    Spot on with the fresh shredded cheese.

    A tip for extra flavor and kick- use mild spicy chicken broth. This will add rich flavor and compliments the ingredients.

  22. I accidently added my comment to the wrong recipe. I added my comments for chicken tortilla soup to the corn chowder soup. I dont know if you can change that on your end. It would make more sense for sure! 🙂

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