Chicken tortilla soup uses leftovers

This simple roasted chicken tortilla soup can be made in 30 minutes.
This simple roasted chicken tortilla soup can be made in 30 minutes. Detroit Free Press

If you’re stuck indoors, check out your pantry and grab a big pot. It’s time to make soup. Nothing beats a steamy bowl of hearty soup on a day when the weather has many of us socked in. The beauty of most broth-based soups is you probably have all the ingredients your pantry and perhaps some leftover chicken in the refrigerator.

This chicken tortilla soup is one of my favorites to make because just about anything goes and I almost always have leftover chicken. Canned tomatoes are another pantry staple of mine. I usually have at least half-dozen cans of tomatoes in several variety in my pantry. In this recipe you can use diced or stewed or whole (cut-up) canned tomatoes.

The rest is easy. All you need to do is sauté some onion and garlic, add shredded or cubed cooked chicken and some seasonings. If you want more veggies, use sliced or diced bell peppers and frozen and thawed corn. Use your favorite chili powder to taste and if you don’t have any cumin, just skip it.

For the topping, it’s mild flavored Mexican-blend cheese with baked tortilla strips. You can spice it up a bit and use shredded pepper Jack cheese or any other shredded cheese you have on hand.

Chicken tortilla soup

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Makes 12 cups


2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 garlic clove, peeled, minced

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 pound cooked, shredded chicken

1 tablespoon chili powder or to taste

1 teaspoon favorite all-purpose seasoning or to taste

1 teaspoon cumin, optional

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) no-salt-added tomatoes

6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned, less-sodium, fat-free chicken broth

8 corn tortillas, cut into strips

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese


In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the garlic and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant; do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and sprinkle it with the chili powder, all-purpose seasoning and cumin. Stir and cook 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and the stock or broth. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet with sides and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Place in the oven and bake 10-12 minutes or until the strips are crisp. Remove from the oven.

Taste and adjust seasonings for the soup if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the tortilla strips and sprinkling of shredded cheese.

Per 1 cup: 162 calories (44 percent from fat), 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 7 g carbohydrates, 17 g protein, 217 mg sodium, 35 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.