With a perfect balance of spicy and creamy flavors, this veggie-packed Creamy White Chicken Tortilla Soup is a deliciously hearty meal in a bowl. Get a supremely cozy dinner on the table in just 30 minutes with this simple recipe!
Table of contents
- With a perfect balance of spicy and creamy flavors, this veggie-packed Creamy White Chicken Tortilla Soup is a deliciously hearty meal in a bowl. Get a supremely cozy dinner on the table in just 30 minutes with this simple recipe!
- Save this recipe for later on Pinterest:
- Why you'll love this creamy chicken tortilla soup
- Ingredient substitutions:
- How to make white chicken tortilla soup
- Recipe pro-tips:
- Optional variations
- Serving suggestions
- Storage, freezing, & reheating instructions
- Recipe FAQs:
- Tools needed to make this recipe:
- More cozy soup recipes:
Soup season is in full swing, and I couldn't be happier. I love prepping a big batch of warm, comforting nourishment that'll provide multiple meals throughout the week. Even better? Most soups (including this creamy chicken tortilla soup) get better with time. Meal-prep FTW!
This deliciously filling, Tex-Mex-inspired pot of goodness is one of my current favorites. Chock-full of crunchy corn, spicy chiles & salsa verde, tender shredded chicken, and fiber-packed beans, this creamy chicken taco soup recipe is the ideal cold-weather addition to my Taco Tuesday lineup.
When topped with all your favorite fixin's like melty cheese, sour cream, crunchy tortilla chips, and fresh cilantro, one bowl of this creamy Mexican chicken soup is sure to crush even the most ravenous hunger.
Save this recipe for later on Pinterest:
Why you'll love this creamy chicken tortilla soup
Whether you're looking for a comforting meal to cozy up with on the couch or you need a relatively fuss-free recipe to get through your busy week, this creamy chicken tortilla soup recipe will deliver in a big way.
Aside from being wildly tasty, my creamy tortilla soup is:
- Perfect for meal-prep. Make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy it for lunch or dinner all week long!
- Made in about 30 minutes. Even on my busiest weeks, a 30-minute spell in the kitchen is a welcome reprieve from my other responsibilities. I even included a couple of tricky shortcuts to help keep your active kitchen time to a minimum. 🤓
- Hearty & satisfying. If you've ever experienced pregnancy hunger, marathon training voraciousness, or if you have any seemingly bottomless teenagers in the house, this is a recipe to keep on deck. One bowl is usually enough to quash even my fiercest cravings!
- Packed with Tex-Mex goodness! Chicken, chiles, corn, onions, spices, and beans? That's basically everything I could want out of a meal, especially if it comes in soup form.
You don't need a ton of ingredients to make this chicken tortilla soup recipe. In fact, I'd bet you already have a lot of them on hand! Here's what to grab:
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs - Boneless, skinless thighs are one of my favorite cuts of chicken because they're nearly impossible to overcook, they always come out juicy, and they're typically the most inexpensive cut at the store. What's not to love?
- Cumin - For warmth. If you only have whole cumin seeds, grind them up in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder for more even distribution.
- Dried Mexican Oregano - For earthy, citrusy, anise-y undertones. Read on below to learn the difference between Mexican oregano and typical Mediterranean oregano.
- Olive Oil - For sautéing.
- Onion - For sweetness and piquancy. Feel free to use red, yellow, or white onion depending on what you have on hand.
- Bell Pepper - For sweet, earthy flavors. Feel free to use red, orange, or yellow bell peppers for a sweeter flavor, or green bell peppers for more of an earthy flavor. Pro Tip: Try using frozen chopped bell pepper to cut down on your prep time.
- Garlic - You can also feel free to use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder instead.
- Ground Coriander - For brightness. If you have whole coriander seeds, simply grind it using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
- Canned Beans - For added texture, fiber, and protein to keep you satisfied. Feel free to use kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, garbanzo beans, cannellini, or black beans depending on what you have on hand!
- Frozen Corn - I love keeping a bag of frozen corn on hand to add a quick dose of sweetness and crunch to my meals. You can also use fresh corn (just slice it off the cob first) or a can of corn (drained), but note that fresh or frozen will be a bit more al dente than canned.
- Canned or Frozen Green Chiles - Roasted green chiles are a great flavor amplifier for Mexican and Tex-Mex meals, so I always keep a few jars or cans on hand. Do yourself a favor and reach for chopped or diced varieties to cut back on your knife work.
- Salsa Verde - These can range from mild to quite spicy, so choose one that fits your heat preference.
- Low-Sodium Chicken Broth - Boxed, canned, or homemade will all do the trick. Pro Tip: If you're short on space, consider using Better Than Bouillon flavor pastes and water; they taste great and a small jar yields a TON.
- Lime Juice - I tend to find that fresh lime juice always tastes better than the kind that comes in a bottle, however Nellie & Joe's Famous Key West Lime Juice is a pretty darn good substitute. To get the most juice from a fresh fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting it open.
- Half & Half - For rich, creamy flavor. Oh, and in case you didn't know it, half & half is just a 50/50 split of whole milk and cream so feel free to make your own!
- Salt & Freshly Cracked Pepper - For seasoning
The difference between Mexican oregano vs. Mediterranean oregano
If you read the recipe and asked yourself "What the heck is Mexican oregano, and how is it different than what I have in my spice cabinet," you're definitely not alone.
So, let's do a quick lesson on the difference between "true oregano" species and the Mexican variety. The former, often sold as just "oregano," is part of the mint family. Italian, Greek, and Turkish oregano are all part of the "true" oregano group.
Mexican oregano, on the other hand, is something of a misleading term. It's actually part of the verbena family. While the two plants are wholly unrelated, the flavor compounds known as terpenes are present in both species, so they taste *somewhat* similar at first blush. This is likely why they both were named "oregano."
When tasted side by side, however, the differences really shine. "True" oregano varieties are bittersweet with a peppery undertone, and sometimes have a slight cooling effect that you'd find in mint. Mexican oregano, on the other hand, tastes brighter and more citrusy with floral and anise undertones, similar to what you'd find in, say, lemon verbena.
Unsurprisingly, these two types of plants are also native to different parts of the world. Mexican oregano is native to (you guessed it!) Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of Southern America. "True" oreganos are more commonly found across temperate zones of Europe and Asia.
So, can you trade true oregano for Mexican oregano? Sure, in a pinch. However, I'd actually suggest using marjoram (which is a citrusy sibling in the mint family) instead. *Cue the star and rainbow.*
Despite the fact that I LOVE this recipe for creamy Mexican tortilla soup, there's always plenty of room for customization here at Mae's Menu. Here are a few easy swaps you can make depending on what you have on hand:
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs - Feel free to use shredded rotisserie chicken to save time and dishes. You can also use chicken breasts or tenders for the chicken thighs if you prefer white meat.
- Cumin - Ground caraway seeds are part of the same family as cumin, so they make for a fine substitute. You can also use chili powder (cumin is one of the primary ingredients). For either, be sure to start with just half as much as is called for and then adjust as needed. Alternatively, try using taco seasoning, but be sure to cut back on adding extra salt to compensate.
- Dried Mexican Oregano - Your best bet is swapping in dried marjoram or dried verbena. If you don't have either, go ahead and use traditional oregano instead.
- Olive Oil - Feel free to use whichever cooking oil you prefer.
- Onion - You can also swap in shallots, thinly sliced leeks, or scallions if necessary!
- Bell Pepper - Don't have any fresh bell peppers on hand? Swap in drained, jarred roasted bell peppers instead. Alternatively, feel free to use a sweeter-leaning chile pepper like Anaheim, Poblano, or Cubanelle, but note that you'll get a bit more heat if you do.
- Canned Beans - Can't eat beans? Feel free to omit them, or swap in a "meaty" vegetable like chopped mushrooms or bite-sized cauliflower florets instead.
- Low-Sodium Chicken Broth - You can also use veggie broth if you prefer.
How to make white chicken tortilla soup
This super simple green chili chicken soup comes together in about as much time as it takes to watch an episode of your favorite sitcom. Here's how to make it:
For the complete recipe and measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Prep. Preheat the oven & lightly grease a baking sheet. Add the chicken breasts and season them.
Step 2: Bake the chicken until cooked through and allow it to cool enough to handle. Shred the chicken.
Step 3: Sauté Aromatics in olive oil. Start with the onion and bell pepper, cooking until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and spices, continuing to stir and sauté until fragrant.
Step 4: Simmer. Add the beans, corn, green chiles, salsa verde, and chicken broth to the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 5: Warm. Add the chicken and lime juice to the soup. Stir well, then simmer until the chicken is heated through.
Step 6: Finish. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the half and half until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
- Cut back on prep time by leaning on store-bought shortcuts. Frozen bell peppers and frozen onion come washed, chopped, and ready to use. Rotisserie chicken is already cooked, so you can skip steps 1 & 2. Pre-peeled garlic is slightly more expensive than heads of garlic, but it's a worthwhile splurge if you use a lot.
- Use a hand- or stand-mixer to shred the chicken quickly. This is particularly useful if you're making a big batch!
While this creamy Tex-Mex tortilla soup is pretty delightful as written, you can change things up to fit your dietary needs. Here are a few ideas:
- Make it turkey tortilla soup. Use the rest of your holiday turkey instead of chicken to give your leftovers a spicy new life and cut back on prep time. Rotisserie chicken tortilla soup is similarly simple.
- Make it spicier by using a spicier salsa verde and/or hot green chiles.
How to make lactose-free creamy chicken tortilla soup
If you, like me, can't quite swing lactose, you have two options: use either lactose-free half-and-half or swap in your favorite plant-based unsweetened coffee creamer. Both are great!
How to make vegan creamy "chicken" tortilla soup
Follow the instructions for lactose-free soup above. Swap in shredded jackfruit, pulled and sautéed oyster mushrooms, or rehydrated soy curls for the chicken, and use vegetable stock in place of the chicken broth.
This chicken green chili soup recipe is just begging for you to top it with extra tastiness. Some of my favorite additions include:
- Tortilla chips
- Shredded cheese (vegan or lactose-free if needs be!)
- Sour cream (ditto)
- Fresh cilantro
- An extra squeeze of lime
- Sliced black olives
- Vinegary hot sauce (e.g. Cholula)
If you have a crazy voracious hunger, you can also supplement your bowl with a cheesy quesadilla or grilled cheese for dipping.
Storage, freezing, & reheating instructions
Once made, this white chicken tortilla soup will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Due to the dairy content, it is not advised that you freeze this soup. However, if you swap in dairy-free half-and-half, it should freeze quite well for up to 6 months.
To reheat, defrost overnight in the fridge and use either a saucepan on the stovetop or a microwave-safe bowl to warm it through.
While the two share some similar ingredients, tortilla soup is more of an "everyday" soup, whereas pozole is often made for special occasions like Christmas. Pozole may be made with either pork or chicken, but tortilla soup is usually made with chicken.
Pozole can also be either rojo or verde (red or green), whereas tortilla soup is usually made from nearly clear or red broth or a creamy base like in this recipe.
Finally, pozole pretty much always includes the nixtamalized corn known as hominy as well as shredded cabbage. Tortilla soup, on the other hand, does not usually include these ingredients.
You have a few options here. First, try smashing some of the beans. They'll release natural starches, which will thicken the soup.
Second, try swapping a bit of heavy cream or sour cream for the half-and-half to cut back on the liquid used.
You can also simmer the soup without a lid before adding the chicken. Simmer it until enough liquid evaporates that you are happy with the consistency.
Finally, you can always add a thickener like a roux (cooked butter and flour), a cornstarch slurry, or another thickening agent like masa harina, potato starch, or arrowroot flour.
Try any of the thickening methods listed in the question above. You can also try puréeing part of the soup using an immersion blender to give it more body and a richer mouthfeel, or add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream.
Tools needed to make this recipe:
- Sheet Pan
- Cutting board
- Chef knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Heat-safe spatula
- Stockpot or Dutch oven
- Soup ladle
- Citrus juicer (optional)
More cozy soup recipes:
- Turkey Rice Soup
- Chicken Miso Soup
- Asparagus Soup without Cream
- Instant Pot Chicken Stew
- Italian Lentil Soup
- Minestra (Farro Soup)
- Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup
- Instant Pot Bean Soup (Vegan & Gluten-free!)
- Instant Pot Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
More Mexican-inspired recipes:
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