This, super easy spicy red Chicken Tortilla soup is a perfect use for leftover rotisserie chicken - but equally good using freshly poached chicken breasts. Make it as spicy or mild as you like, add whatever toppings, and enjoy.
Soups make great use of leftovers.
I love to make Beef Barely Soup with leftover beef. And of course, Turkey Soup, with leftover Turkey.
Chicken Tortilla Soup is a great use for leftover rotisserie chicken.
Don't have any left-over? There are options...(don't you love options? I love options). We'll explore options later in this post.
- Shredded cooked chicken
- Poblano, Anaheim, and Jalapeno peppers
- White onion
- Pico de Gallo or salsa
- Homemade or low-sodium chicken broth
- Diced tomatoes
- Crispy corn tortilla strips
- After you chop the peppers and onions into chunks, process them in a food processor using on/off pulses until they are finely chopped. You don't want any large chunks.
- Place the peppers into a soup pan with a bit of oil and saute until soft.
- Add the diced tomatoes and salsa to the container of the food processor then process until the tomato is just slightly chunky.
- Once the peppers are soft, add the tomato mixture.
- Add the chicken stock and simmer.
- Add the shredded chicken and simmer for about 15 minutes or until your soup is hot and the chicken has been flavored with the broth. If using optional canned beans, add them now.
Substitutions and Variations
- Don't have any leftover chicken? Poach some. See poaching 101 for the proper way to poach.
- Use fire-roasted diced tomato in place of regular diced tomato.
- Substitute canned roasted diced chilies, such as Ortega, for all or part of the chilies. If using canned, you will only need to saute your onions, then add the canned chilies with the tomato/salsa combo. Saute any fresh peppers with the onions as stated in the recipe.
- Add beans. Adding beans adds texture and protein to the soup. Try adding a can of rinsed hominy, black, or pinto beans.
Remember, you are poaching, not boiling.
Bring some water to a simmer, add a large pinch of salt, add the chicken breasts, return to a simmer, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, turn and simmer 5 minutes more.
Shut off the heat; cover and let sit for 10 minutes. You should have tender, juicy poached breasts. Let them cool and then shred the meat.
Two breasts should be enough, unless you like a lot of chicken in your soup, in which case, poach more.
For best results, tear your chicken into bite-sized pieces rather than dice it. The ragged pieces will hold onto the broth better.
Video-How to make Homemade Chicken Broth
How to make crunchy Tortilla Chips
Chicken Tortilla Soup would not be Chicken Tortilla Soup without tortilla strips.
I like to bake mine, Cut the tortilla in half, then into fairly thin strips, not more than a quarter-inch wide. These are easier to get into your mouth (and isn't that the point?). Spray them with cooking spray (put foil on your cookie sheet whenever you use a cooking spray as the propellant will start building up and make it all sticky and icky) sprinkle some salt and chili powder on top of them...toss and put in a 325º oven for about 10 minutes, or until crisp.
If you like yours bigger, or wider or square, well, it's up to you. Just be sure you use corn tortillas.
Yes. You can easily make this Spicy Red Chicken Tortilla soup more, or less spicy.
The easiest way is with the types of peppers you add. Anaheim and Poblano chiles tend to add more flavor than heat, jalapeno peppers add heat, so you could use more jalapeno. Or add some Serrano peppers or another high Scoville type of pepper.
Another way would be the type of salsa you use. I generally get medium heat, but you could use hotter or milder.
Unless I'm making a chicken soup such as chicken noodle, or chicken rice, I don't want the vegetative flavors of celery, carrots, and onions in my stock.
When I make stock, I make it simple. Chicken, water, salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf or two.
That's it. I can doctor it up, but it's almost impossible to doctor it down.
If you are not making your own stock, (and you really should, it's so easy and makes a huge difference in taste); then buy a stock that has chicken and water as its first ingredient. The more common stock is Swanson.
You can add whatever topping you like, but other than the tortilla chips, I like to add chopped cilantro, avocado, lime wedges, thinly sliced radish, and sometimes, grated cheddar cheese.
In reality...No. Flour tortillas do not make good chips for the soup as they add no flavor and will get very soggy very quickly. If you are in a part of the country where finding corn tortillas is difficult, try using some tortilla chips or buy some online.
Store the soup, without the tortillas or other toppings, in a container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
This soup freezes beautifully so make extra and freeze some in a freezer-safe container.
If you have a BBQ with a rotisserie, it's simple to make your own Rotisserie Chicken. Or try it with a countertop rotisserie. Perfect for those leftovers!
Spicy Red Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 3 cups shredded cooked chicken or diced or however you like them to look, I like to shred into bite-sized pieces
- 1 quart homemade or low-salt chicken broth
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, lightly chopped or use Fire Roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 poblano peppers seeded and diced (I cut all my peppers and onion into large pieces and then processed them in my food processor using quick on/off pulses, you just want to chop them do not pulverize them)
- 2 Anaheim California chilis, seeded and diced
- 2 jalapeño peppers seeded and diced
- 1 cup diced white onion about ½ large
- ½ cup pico de gallo or salsa
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 - 4 corn tortillas cut into strips and baked until crisp (you could also fry them in oil, but I prefer to bake them)
- Optional Ingredients Optional but good
- Chopped cilantro
- Diced avocado
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
- Thinly sliced radish
- If using the food processor to chop: Place your pepper and onion chunks into the work bowl of the processor, then using on/off pulses, pulse until finely chopped, but still with some texture.In a Dutch oven or other deep pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat; add the peppers and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, and pico de gallo or salsa; simmer 30 minutes. Add the chicken and optional beans if using, and cook 15 minutes more.
- While the soup is simmering, prepare your tortilla chips. Cut small corn tortillas into half, then into strips. Spray with cooking spray and season with salt and optional chili powder. Toss and place into a 325°F oven; cook for about 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until crisp.
- Ladle soup into warmed bowls; top with tortilla strips and selected optional ingredients. Ole!
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