Mexican Chicken Soup is a warm and comforting way to enjoy your favorite Mexican flavors in a bowl. It’s ready to eat in just about 30 minutes and is a lightened-up alternative to tortilla soup.
While it’s not a traditional caldo de pollo recipe, this soup is easy to make because it cooks all in one pot. You don’t have to use a whole chicken, or a separate pan to bake the chicken.
Using an immersion blender at the end gives this soup a hearty texture you’ll love!
This recipe has no added sugar and is naturally gluten-free and dairy-free. A simple combination of spices makes this soup ultra-flavorful. It reminds me of chicken enchiladas, only in soup form!
Ingredients You’ll Need
You can top this soup off with any toppings you love before serving, like diced avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese, or tortilla chips. You can load it up, just like you would chili!
I typically cook soup with water instead of broth, because it’s affordable and accessible, but you can use chicken stock or vegetable broth if you prefer. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to use less salt in that case.
If you don’t have carrots or celery on hand, you can swap them for a chopped bell pepper or corn. I’ve also tested this recipe with both chicken breasts and chicken thighs, and both work well!
Have a rotisserie chicken to use up? You can replace the raw chicken in this recipe with shredded cooked chicken at the end. To do this, add 1 cup more liquid to the soup while it simmers, and then add the shredded chicken for the last 5 minutes of cooking, just so it can heat through.
How to Make Mexican Chicken Soup
Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a large pot over medium-high heat, and saute the onion, carrots, and celery until they start to soften about 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic, jalapeno, ground cumin, chili powder, and dried oregano. Stir briefly, just until they smell fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add in the chicken, tomatoes, water (or chicken broth), salt, and black pepper, and bring the liquid to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, lower the heat and cover the pot.
Let it cook for 15 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
Note: Small chicken thighs might reach this internal temperature even faster than 15 minutes, but it’s okay if they end up going a little over. Chicken thighs are very forgiving, and still have an amazing texture either way.
Chicken breasts might need up to 20 minutes of cook time to reach 165ºF, but be sure to check on them after 15 minutes because their texture isn’t as nice when they are overcooked.
Once the chicken is cooked, use tongs to remove it from the soup and use two forks to shred it on a cutting board or plate.
You can also place the cooked chicken in a bowl, and use your stand mixer or electric hand mixer to shred it quickly.
While the chicken is removed from the soup, stir in the fresh cilantro until it wilts. Then use an immersion blender to briefly blend some of the soup, so it has a thicker texture.
You can blend as much or as little as you like, leaving some chunks of veggies, so the soup won’t be totally pureed.
Return the chicken to the soup, and adjust any seasoning to taste. I usually add a little more salt, and you can add a squeeze of lime juice if you’d like a more tangy flavor.
Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze soup for up to 3 months if you’d like it to last longer.
Substitutions and Common Questions
Yes! You can add a 1/4 cup of dry white rice and an extra 1 cup of water to this soup recipe, and cook as directed. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to become tender, so be sure to check for tenderness.
Sure! You can add in potatoes to make this soup more hearty or use zucchini when it’s in season.
You can use a can of tomato sauce, instead.
The fresh cilantro adds a special flavor to this soup that is difficult to replicate with another ingredient. I don’t recommend swapping parsley for cilantro, as the flavor is too different and overpowering, but you can leave out the cilantro if you’re really not a fan.
Mexican Chicken Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 2 celery ribs , chopped
- 3 carrots , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 jalapeño , chopped (seeds removed)
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 cups water
- 1.25 lbs boneless chicken thighs
- 1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons sea salt , plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat, and saute the onion, celery, and carrots until they start to soften, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, oregano, and smoked paprika, and stir for one more minute.
- Add in the water, chicken, diced tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot. It will take roughly 15 to 20 minutes for the chicken to cook through; be sure to check the internal tempature of the chicken with a meat thermometer, to ensure that it reaches 165ºF.
- Use tongs to remove the chicken, and transfer it to a plate. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then shred with 2 forks. (Alternatively, you can just chop it into small pieces, too.) Before you add the chicken back in, stir in the fresh cilantro and use an immersion blender to gently puree the soup to your desired texture.
- Return the shredded chicken to the soup, and adjust the seasoning as needed. I usually end up adding an extra teaspoon of salt, but start with just a 1/2 teaspoon at a time, so you don't end up over-seasoning it. Serve warm right away, with any toppings you love. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
If you try this Mexican Chicken Soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!