Chef John’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

Background and History

Chef John’s Chicken Tortilla Soup is a culinary masterpiece, marrying the robust flavors of Mexican cuisine with the comforting appeal of a hearty soup. With roots in traditional tortilla soup recipes, this dish brings a Chef John twist, combining tender chicken, vibrant vegetables, and a medley of spices for a truly satisfying culinary experience.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes

1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles (e.g., Rotel)

6 cups chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 cup frozen corn

1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

Juice of 1 lime

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Tortilla chips for serving


Season Chicken

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a pot, heat vegetable oil and cook chicken until browned on both sides. Remove and set aside.

Sauté Aromatics

In the same pot, sauté diced onions until translucent. Add minced garlic, ground cumin, and chili powder. Cook until aromatic.

Combine Ingredients

Return the chicken to the pot. Add diced tomatoes, tomatoes with green chiles, chicken broth, bay leaf, frozen corn, and black beans.


Bring the soup to a simmer. Cover and let it simmer for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to meld.

Shred Chicken

Remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the pot. Discard the bay leaf.

Finish and Serve

Stir in lime juice and season the soup with additional salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro and accompanied by tortilla chips.

Nutrition Facts

(Per Serving – based on 6 servings)

Calories: ~300

Protein: 25g

Fat: 7g

Carbohydrates: 35g

Fiber: 9g


Customize with toppings like avocado, cheese, or sour cream.

Make it spicier with additional chili powder or hot sauce.

Chef John’s touch often includes a squeeze of lime for brightness.

Allergy Warning

Check ingredients for potential allergens, especially in canned products.

Confirm any allergies to specific spices or garnishes.

Modify the recipe to accommodate dietary restrictions or allergies.

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