This 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup is the perfect cozy bowl on a cold winter day! It starts with lots of veggies, bold Mexican flavors, made hearty with chicken, beans and rice and oh, the toppings! Piled high with cheese, avocado, yogurt, cilantro, and salty lime crispy tortilla strips! It's delicious one-pot comfort food and cooks entirely on the stovetop in just 30 minutes!
Why We Love It!
- The Flavor is Amazing! - Ah chicken tortilla, one of my absolute favorite soups! It cooks all in one pot on the stovetop, it just happens to be super healthy, loaded with veggies, chicken, beans, rice, and a rich tomatoey broth. And the toppings! Definitely the best part, especially the warm and crisp from the oven salty lime homemade tortilla strips! Pile on the cheese, avocado, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, and plain yogurt or sour cream for a satisfying bowl of delicious!
- It's Fast and Easy! - Yes this really is a 30 minute tortilla soup! A quick saute of the veggies, a short simmer to cook the rice, and then put it all together, it's the perfect weeknight meal!
- If you Love this Soup, add chips and Guacamole for the perfect game day menu!
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Corn Tortillas - Corn tortillas make the best crispy strips when baked in the oven and keep this a gluten free chicken tortilla soup. Flour tortillas can be substituted but may not need to bake as long. Store bought tortilla chips are also a great topping.
- Onion and Red Bell Pepper - These are the veggie base for the soup, adding lots of flavor, bright red color and extra nutrition.
- Fresh Tomato - I love the fresh tomato in this soup! The cooking tomato makes for that velvety rich broth as it marries with the chicken stock. You could also substitute one 15 ounce can of diced or fire roasted tomato, or a small can of tomato sauce.
- Salt, Pepper and Cumin - With so much flavor from the fresh veggies, this soup is seasoned very simply with just salt, pepper and cumin.
- Fresh Garlic - Go fresh if you can! Fresh garlic keeps on the counter for weeks and really packs the flavor! If you don't have it, you can use the pre-chopped jar or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.
- Uncooked White Rice - Use a basic quick cooking white rice for this soup. I used a long grain white rice that has a package cooking time of 15 minutes. Brown rice has a much longer cooking time, usually 45 minutes, so if you want to use it, this will no longer be a 30 minute tortilla soup.
- Chicken Stock - Chicken stock is the base for the soup and takes on a reddish rich flavor from the cooking fresh tomato.
- White and Pinto Beans - I love the hearty combination of beans in this soup! You can substitute any beans you like, both cans could be pinto or any white beans such as navy, great northern or canellini beans. You could also swap black beans. If you aren't a huge fan of beans in soup, you could use just 1 can instead of 2.
- Shredded Chicken - Leftover or rotisserie chicken is great for this recipe! Any chicken is ok including leftovers that were grilled or baked, chopped or shredded. Having your chicken already cooked makes this a quick and easy weeknight meal. However, if all you have is raw chicken, you have a few options. You will need about 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. You can sear them along with the onion and bell pepper, then add the rice and stock and allow them to simmer until cooked through. Then take them out, shred them with two forks and add them back to the pot.
- Corn - Corn adds a delicious flavor to the soup. I like frozen corn, but if sweet corn on the cob is in season where you are, by all means use it! Cut the kernels off one to two ears and let it cook right in the soup. A can of corn is also fine.
- Cilantro - Cilantro adds that classic Mexican flavor and brings a bright freshness to the soup when added just before serving! If cilantro isn't your thing, you can also serve it on the side as a topping so everyone can add the amount they like.
- Lime - A squeeze of fresh lime juice just before serving brings a fresh citrus flavor to the soup. I absolutely love it, but again, if you aren't a big lime juice fan, lime wedges can be served on the side as a topping option.
- Toppings - The absolute best part of this 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup is the toppings!! I like to set them all out in bowls so everyone can add what they like. We love to load our bowls with shredded white cheddar cheese, a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream, fresh chopped cilantro or scallions, lime wedges, jalapeno if you like a little spice, and lots and lots of the salty lime tortilla strips!
Step 1 - Make the tortilla strip topping. Cut corn tortillas into thin strips. On a sheet pan, drizzle and toss them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and bake about 15 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Add a squeeze of lime juice when they are fresh from the oven.
Step 2 - Preheat olive oil in a large soup pot or dutch oven oven medium heat. Saute the onion and bell pepper, about 5 minutes.
Step 3 - Add fresh tomato and season with salt, pepper and cumin, cook 3 minutes more.
Step 4 - Add garlic and give the mixture a good stir. Add uncooked white rice and stock. Bring to a boil and then cover and lower heat to a simmer, about 10 minutes until the rice is nearly done.
Step 5 - Add beans, corn and shredded chicken and stir to combine. Simmer another 3 minutes.
Step 6 - Finish with fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice to taste.
Step 7 - Serve with lots of toppings! Shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, lime, jalapeno, a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream and lots of your homemade crispy tortilla strips!
Tips & Variations
- Storage Instructions - Store soup in the fridge for up to 3 days. Store extra tortilla strips in an air tight container on the counter for a few days. This Chicken Tortilla Soup with rice does not freeze particularly well. It is ok to freeze although the texture of the rice may not be as good after being frozen. If you want to make a batch to freeze, you could leave out the rice and then add cooked rice when reheating.
- Gluten Free Chicken Tortilla Soup - This 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup is already completely gluten free! No need to change a thing, even corn tortillas are generally gluten free, just check the package.
- Dairy Free Chicken Tortilla Soup - This soup is naturally dairy free, all except the toppings. So just leave off the cheese, yogurt or sour cream and you have a nutritious pot of dairy free chicken tortilla soup.
- Creamy Tortilla Soup Variation - To make this soup creamy, simply add 2 ounces of cream cheese OR a half cup of heavy cream when you are adding the beans, corn and chicken.
No, this is a pretty mild soup, made to be family friendly with all those fun toppings. If you do like your soup spicy, there are a lot of ways to bump up the heat! You can add a bit of chopped fresh jalapeno when first sautéing your veggies or add a few jarred jalapeños as a topping. You can also add a dash of your favorite hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes.
Yes, just leave out the chicken and substitute vegetable stock. This is a very hearty soup with lots of veggies, beans and rice, so it's easy to make vegetarian or vegan. For vegan, sub a vegan cheese and omit the yogurt or sour cream topping.
Yes, but you will want to use 1 pound of raw chicken breasts instead of the cooked chicken. Add all ingredients to a crockpot and nestle in the raw chicken. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Just make sure the chicken is cooked through, shred it on a cutting board with two forks and return it to the soup. Add fresh cilantro and lime juice just before serving.
More Favorite Soups!
30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 8 to 10 corn tortillas, cut into strips olive oil, salt, lime juice
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 2 cups fresh tomato diced (3 Roma or any tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 grinds fresh black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup uncooked white rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1 15oz can white beans
- 1 15oz can pinto beans
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded (leftover or rotisserie chicken)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped, plus more for serving
- a squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste
- Toppings - shredded white cheddar cheese, avocado, cilantro, jalapeno, lime wedges, plain yogurt or sour cream, and your homemade tortilla strips
For the Tortilla Strips
- Preheat oven to 425°. Cut 8 to 10 corn tortillas into strips. Toss on a baking sheet with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Bake 15 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Check on them and toss them with tongs every 5 minutes or so, especially towards the end. If you love lime, add a squeeze when they are hot from the oven!
For the Soup
- Preheat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil. Saute onion and bell pepper until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add tomato, season with salt, pepper and cumin and cook 3 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic and stir to cook slightly. Add rice and stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat, then COVER, lower the heat to medium low and simmer about 10 minutes or until rice is nearly cooked through. Give it an occasional stir to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.
- Add beans, corn, and chicken and continue to simmer 3 to 5 more minutes.
- Finish with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste. Add toppings and serve.
- Store soup in the fridge for up to 3 days. Because of the rice, this soup does not freeze well. Soup can be frozen but the texture of the rice may be different when thawed.
- If the soup gets a little too thick, just add a bit of water. It thickens as it cools so you may need to add water when reheating.
- You can also use store bought tortilla chips as a topping if you want to skip the homemade tortilla strips.