Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup is hearty, lusciously creamy, cheesy, comfort food bursting with fiesta flavors all made in one pot!
This Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup is everything you love about traditional Tortilla Soup with its satisfying symphony of bold Tex-Mex flavors and textures BUT in tantalizing CREAMY form! This easy recipe is loaded with juicy, tender shredded chicken, hearty black beans, sweet corn, fire roasted tomatoes, tangy green chiles, zesty cilantro, earthy enchilada sauce, and fiesta seasonings made creamy with cream cheese and cheddar then topped with crispy, salty homemade BAKED tortilla strips! This Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup is easy to make, extremely versatile and pantry friendly, reheats beautifully and is great for entertaining. Serve it alongside Sweet Cornbread, Mexican Salad and Tres Leches Cake to complete the feast!
Mexican inspired soups are some of our favorites, layered with crave worthy Tex-Mex flavors and textures! If you’re a fan like us, don’t miss Crockpot Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cheesy Taco Soup, Chicken Fajita Soup, Albondigas Soup
Chicken Enchilada Soup and Caldo de Pollo.
HOW TO MAKE Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup VIDEo
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Ingredients
This recipe is made with the same ingredients as classic Chicken Tortilla Soup but with the addition of cornstarch, cream cheese and cheddar. The cream cheese makes the broth silky smooth and adds a subtle tanginess that pairs beautifully with the earthy Tex-Mex seasonings. Let’s review the ingredients you’ll need to make the soup (measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
How to Make Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup is quick and easy to prepare, especially if you’re using leftover or rotisserie chicken! Detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post, but here’s an overview of how to make the recipe with step-by-step photos:
- Step 1: Sear the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat some oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Once hot, add the chicken and sear until golden. It will not be cooked through at this point, but that’s what you want! Remove the chicken to a plate but leave the drippings. (Drippings = FLAVOR!)
- Step 2: Sauté the veggies. Melt the Danish Creamery Butter in the same pot, then sauté the onions, poblano pepper and red bell pepper until the onions are softened. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds.
- Step 3: Simmer the soup. Add the chicken back to the pot, followed by all of the remaining ingredients EXCEPT the cheese, cream cheese, cilantro and lime juice. Simmer the soup, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked through and tender enough to shred.
- Step 4: Add the cheeses. Stir in the cream cheese until melted, followed by the shredded cheddar until melted. Lastly, finish with fresh cilantro and a couple tablespoons of lime juice.
- Step 5: Garnish and serve. I’ve shared my favorite toppings below. I’ve also given instructions on how to make homemade tortilla strips – SO good!
Toppings for Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Topping your Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup with your favorite garnishes will elevate it to the NEXT LEVEL. You can create a toppings bar and let everyone pile on their favorites of:
HOW DO YOU MAKE TORTILLA STRIPS?
Making your own tortilla strips is SO easy and healthier because they are BAKED, not fried. To make tortilla strips, all you need are corn tortillas, oil and salt to achieve crunchy, salty, tortilla chip results. They also don’t add any prep time to the recipe because you make them while the soup simmers.
How To make tortilla strips:
- Step 1: Prepare the baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly spray a large baking sheet/jelly roll pan with cooking spray or use two half sheets.
- Step 2: Cut tortillas into ½ inch strips. I have found the easiest way to do this is to stack the tortillas together, then use a pizza cutter to cut them all at once. It literally takes 1-2 minutes to cut them all.
- Step 3: Season the tortilla strips. Add the tortilla strips to the baking sheet(s) and toss with 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil. Arrange the strips in a single layer so they aren’t touching and season with freshly cracked salt.
- Step 4: Bake. Bake the tortilla strips at 425 degrees F for about 12 minutes or until light golden brown and crunchy.
Tips for the Best chicken tortilla soup
This Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is easy to make, but there are a tips to pay attention to:
possible recipe variations
This Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is delicious with ground beef, different veggies, beans etc. Here are a few ideas to mix things up:
What to Serve with Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup pairs perfectly with a big green salad, cornbread and fruit. Here are some more tasty side dish ideas:
Tools Used in This Recipe
Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup
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- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Danish Creamery Premium Butter
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs OR 2 ½ cups rotisserie chicken (see notes)
- salt and pepper
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped (may sub 1 green bell pepper)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated chicken bouillon, base, or crushed cubes
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tsp EACH smoked paprika, dried oregano, salt
- pinch-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained
- 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz. can mild enchilada sauce
- 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
- 5 cups low sodium chicken broth (for even creamier, swap 1 cup for 1 cup heavy cream)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
HOMEMADE TORTILLA STRIPS (Optional)
- 8 6-inch corn tortillas
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- freshly cracked salt
GARNISH (pick your favs)
- tortilla strips or crushed tortilla chips
- sour cream
- lime juice
- hot sauce
- If making tortilla strips, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Season chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Once hot, add the chicken and sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate but leave the drippings.
- Add the chicken back to the pot followed by all of the remaining soup ingredients up to the cornstarch. Whisk the cornstarch with part of the chicken broth to dissolve (I use a liquid measuring cup), then add to the pot along with the remaining chicken broth.
- Partially cover the soup with a 1-inch gap and bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer over medium-low or low if your stove runs hot. Simmer until the chicken shreds easily with two forks, about 15-20 minutes. You can make the Tortilla Strips (instructions below) while the soup simmers. Remove the chicken and let rest 5 minutes before shredding. Meanwhile…
- Reduce heat to low and whisk in the cream cheese until melted, followed by the cheese until melted. Stir in the lime juice, cilantro and shredded chicken. Taste and season with additional salt/lime juice/cayenne to taste. Stir in additional chicken broth if you would like a less chunky soup.
- Serve with tortilla chips and desired toppings.
TORTILLA STRIPS (optional)
- Cut tortillas into 1/2-inch strips. (I stack them and use my pizza cutter.)
- Add tortilla strips to baking sheet(s) and toss with 1 ½ tablespoon vegetable oil. Arrange strips in a single layer then lightly season with freshly cracked salt.
- Bake at 425 degrees F for 12-16 minutes or until lightly golden brown and crispy.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Rotisserie Chicken: Shredded Rotisserie chicken is fabulous in this recipe. Use approximately 2 ½ cups and add it at the end of cooking with the cilantro and heat through.
- Chicken breasts: You can use chicken breasts for this recipe if you prefer but I don’t find them as juicy or flavorful, especially if overcooked. Use small or medium chicken breasts and cook closer to 20-25 minutes.
- Poblano Peppers: These peppers boast a very mild heat, nothing like a jalapeno, so don’t be afraid of them! You can substitute with one chopped green bell pepper if you prefer.
- Chicken bouillon: 2 teaspoons of chicken bouillon imparts a complex, savory, goodness to the sauce (it’s like salt with FLAVOR). You may use granulated chicken bouillon, crushed bouillon cubes, or bouillon base (like Better Than Bouillon or !Zoup). Add the bouillon directly to the soup, do not dissolve it in water first.
- Meal Prep: The chicken can be trimmed, the vegetables and aromatics chops and the cheese shredded ahead time and stored in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator. The tortilla strips can be baked, cooled, then stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 7 days.
- Storage: Let the soup cool to room temperature, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Crockpot Creamy Chicken Tortilla SoupThis Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup can easily be adapted to your slow cooker by omitting the olive oil and butter and using the rest of the same ingredients: 1. Add the chicken to a lightly greased slow cooker, followed by all of the remaining soup ingredients except the cream cheese, cheese, cilantro, and lime juice. Give the top ingredients a stir to combine.
2. Cook on LOW for 5-7 hours or on HIGH for 2-3 hours (longer if using chicken breasts) or until chicken is tender enough to shred. You’ll know your soup is done when the chicken easily shreds with a fork. If it’s not easily pulling away, cook on!
3. Remove chicken to a cutting board, let rest 5 minutes, then shred chicken.
4. Meanwhile, stir in the cream cheese until melted, followed by the cheese until melted.
5. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the cilantro and lime juice.
6. Stir in additional chicken broth for a less chunky soup if desired and season with salt/cayenne, lime juice to taste.
7. Top individual servings with desired toppings.
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