Last Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

by Lori on February 1, 2011

Soup is one of my favorite winter comfort foods, hands down.  However, most of our recent Southern California temps have been very un-winter-like, sitting between 75 and 80 degrees for the past few weeks.  But all of that changed over this last weekend, so I feel no shame in posting my latest go-to chicken tortilla soup recipe that’s been getting a lot of play in my kitchen for a couple of good reasons: big, satisfying flavor and minimal effort.  And on those hectic weeknights where a healthy dinner is challenged by overlapping sports practice for my two kids and I’m the one providing the shuttle service, this soup lets me have dinner on the table in under 40 minutes from start to finish.


For the chicken:
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Ground cumin
Salt and pepper

For the soup:
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Ground pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons tomato paste (eyeball it – I use the tomato paste in a tube)
1 can Rotel
2 (32-ounce) boxes chicken broth or stock
8-10 corn tortillas, sliced into strips and then cut in half
1 cup frozen corn (optional)

Recommended toppings:
grated cheese, avocado chunks, crushed tortilla chips, chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, sour cream

To prepare the chicken:
Place chicken breasts on foil-lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and sprinkle liberally with chili powder, garlic powder and cumin.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place in 400 degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

To prepare the soup:
In a large dutch oven over medium high heat, add olive oil, onions, bell peppers and seasonings.  Drop the heat to medium and saute until the onions are translucent and the bell peppers begin to soften, about 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the tomato paste and mix into the vegetables.  Add the Rotel and broth/stock and bring up to a boil.  Meanwhile shred the chicken and add it to the soup.  Reduce the heat to simmer and add the corn and sliced tortillas.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.  Cover and allow simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.


  •  I used Trader Joe’s Low Sodium Chicken Broth for this soup.  It’s the lowest sodium broth I have found.  Your addition of salt will be less if you use a different brand of stock or broth.
  • Well seasoned chicken makes a difference here, and I chose to bake it instead of cook it in the soup pot to avoid the potentially burned/bitter flavor that might come from the seasonings.  Play with it a bit if you’d like a true one-pot meal.
  • My seasoning amounts are based on personal taste and that of my kids.  You should always adjust to your liking.
  • I used the mild Rotel.
  • The corn tortillas thicken and flavor the soup as they break down.
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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren February 2, 2011 at 6:46 pm

This soup sounds so comforting, delicious, and healthy! A must-make, for sure.


Lemons and Lavender February 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thanks Lauren. It is just as you described! Enjoy.


Hannah February 3, 2011 at 1:53 am

This sounds amazing! As a Brit, though, I don't know what Rotel is – is it anything I could make myself, or should I try and find it in an import shop?


Melissa @IWasBornToCook February 3, 2011 at 2:56 am

I love the way it looks…easy, too!


Anonymous February 3, 2011 at 4:04 am

Ya, I have no idea what Rotel is either. Looks delicious and I want to make it! I just don't think I've ever heard of Rotel.


Lemons and Lavender February 3, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Sorry Hannah and Anonymous, I meant to provide a link for the Rotel and it's now up. Essentially it is diced tomatoes and green chili peppers in a can. There are other brands that provide this combination or you can mix up your own using canned diced tomatoes and canned green chili peppers. Watch your proportions though. The Rotel comes in a 10 ounce can, so you may only need half a can of tomatoes (8-ounces) and half a can of green chili peppers (2 or 3 ounces).


Mary February 4, 2011 at 3:08 am

Love this! Sounds fabulous! Great blog xx


Lemons and Lavender February 4, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Thank you Mary!


Lemons and Lavender February 4, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Melissa, this is one of those soups that can be literally thrown together at the last minute, which is why I love it!


Lauren February 18, 2011 at 12:12 am

I made this tonight, and it came out wonderfully! Thanks for a great soup recipe :).


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