chicken tortilla soup in a white bowl with a spoon inside and limes on the side.

The BEST Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Kristen Stevens
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Mexican


We’ve been told over and over again that this is the BEST chicken tortilla soup ever. With a couple of easy tricks, you can maximize the flavor while keeping the prep time low. Make it in your crockpot or on your stovetop, either way, it’s a healthy and delicious Mexican recipe that’s a true crowd-pleaser. 



  • 3 dried Mexican peppers – guajillo, pasilla, and ancho (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (we like avocado oil)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 8 skinless bone-in chicken thighs (see notes)
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 115 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 115-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, queso, limes, cilantro

The crispy tortillas

  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 4 large tortillas cut into thin strips (use gluten-free, if needed)


  1. Place the dried peppers in a bowl and cover them with about a cup of hot tap water.
  2. Heat the tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it is well browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for 1 minute more.
  3. Pull the stems off of the peppers. Add the peppers and the soaking water into your blender. Add the cooked onion and blend until smooth. If it is too thick to blend properly, add some of the stock. Pour this liquid into your crockpot or a large soup pot.
  4. Add the chicken thighs, chicken stock, sea salt, and tomatoes. Set the crockpot to high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. If cooking in a pot, you want the pot to simmer very gently.
  5. Remove the chicken from the crockpot or pot. Separate the meat from the bones and discard the bones and shred the meat. Return the meat to the pot and add the black beans and corn and let them heat through.
  6. Serve the chicken tortilla soup with the tortillas on top and any or all of the optional toppings.

The crispy tortillas

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put the tortilla strips on a baking sheet and toss them with the oil. Spread them out on the baking sheet then put them in your oven. Let them toast for about 10-15 minutes, gently mixing them up twice until they are lightly browned. Remove them from the oven. Note: they will continue to crisp as they cool.


We’ve tried many different combinations of peppers and every time this soup turns out great. The important part seems to be that you use dried peppers, not necessarily which types of peppers you use. If you would like a spicier soup, add one spicy chili pepper, like chili de arbol, into the mix.

Make sure you use bone-in chicken. The bones are what make the soup extra flavorful. Usually, bone-in chicken is sold with the skin on, simply pull the skin off before putting the chicken in the pot.

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