Are you looking for the best chicken tortilla soup? Tender chicken, zucchini, rice, shredded cheese, and more are in this easy copycat On the Border tortilla soup. Pair it with some tortilla chips and fresh salsa and you have a meal!
Have you been to On the Border? It’s a chain Mexican restaurant and I’m a big fan.
This is a great soup recipe to make with ingredients you might have on hand already. You get the same savory flavors of your favorite On The Border recipe, but made right at home.
There are endless topping ideas for this classic Mexican soup so you can easily customize for each family member.
Why you’ll love this tortilla soup
- Restaurant Quality – I love eating out, but there’s something so satisfying about preparing yourself a delicious meal, especially when it’s easy. Learning to make this soup at home allows you to serve up dinner that is just as good (if not better?!) than at the restaurant.
- Mexican Flavors – I realize this isn’t authentic, but I could eat Mexican food every night of the week and I know I’m not alone in that.
- Family Friendly – Unless you add a spicy salsa to the mixture (which you could!), this soup isn’t spicy so it’s family friendly. Plus, each person can choose their own toppings.
Equipment you’ll need
- Veggie Chopper – I use this for chopping onions among other things.
- Soup Pot – description of item
- Ladle – I love one-piece, heat safe, silicone utensils.
Ingredients for copycat On the Border Chicken Tortilla Soup
Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.
- CHICKEN – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
- SEASONINGS – Salt, pepper, and cumin. Cumin has a distinctive flavor that adds depth to any dish.
- BROTH – Chicken broth or stock. You can use low sodium if that’s what you prefer.
- ONION – I use a yellow onion which gives onion flavor without being overpowering.
- SALSA – I recommend making & using homemade salsa (my recipe happens to also be an On the Border copycat) for the best flavor, but I understand time constraints & jarred from the market will work just as well. On the Border does sell their brand at the grocery store.
- RICE – Uncooked white rice. I personally use Ben’s Original. Don’t use minute rice/instant or similar, you want regular, uncooked rice that hasn’t been processed.
- ZUCCHINI – One zucchini (size varies, you want about a cup or so, chopped) cut in half and then into half moons.
- CHEESE – I use Monterey Jack cheese that I shred myself with this handy cheese grater.
How to make Chicken Tortilla Soup
- STEP ONE: First, season the chicken and set aside. Add the broth, diced onion, and salsa to a soup pot and heat until boiling.
- STEP TWO: Then, once boiling, add in the seasoned chicken and cook until no longer opaque. It takes approximately 10-12 minutes to cook chicken through – make sure it reaches 165°. Carefully remove the cooked chicken, shred it, and add it back to the pot.
- STEP THREE: Next, add in the rice and chopped zucchini. Cook 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- STEP FOUR: Finally, scoop the soup into bowls and top with fresh cilantro and whatever toppings you like.
Tortilla Soup Topping Ideas
Here are a handful of topping ideas for this soup that can really elevate the flavors.
- Ripe avocados – slice into strips or make up some guacamole
- Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for extra protein
- Top with some sweet corn or even extra green chilies
- Green Onions
- Diced red onions
- Squeeze of lime juice
- Crushed corn tortillas chips
- Splash of hot sauce
What to Serve With This Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup
You can skip the chicken and add a can of rinsed black beans for protein.
If you want to make it in the slow cooker, that will work, too. Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker, cover and cook for 3-4 hours on LOW. Remove the chicken, shred it with two forks, return to the slow cooker, sprinkle on cheese and cover until melted, and then serve.
Storage & Reheating
How to store leftovers
Leftover chicken tortilla soup can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
How to reheat leftovers
You can warm up the leftover soup in the microwave or on the stovetop. Just heat on low heat and medium to medium-high heat, stirring often to prevent burning.
Can I freeze chicken tortilla soup?
Any soup that has rice or pasta in it is not going to freeze very well because after cooking, freezing, thawing, and reheating, the rice loses texture (no one likes mush).
For that reason, if you know ahead of time you intend to freeze leftovers, keep the rice separate and just freeze the broth portion.
Why is it called chicken tortilla soup?
Chicken tortilla soup gets its name from the shredded chicken, zesty Mexican spices, and veggies. This gives you Mexican flavors but in soup form! The exact origin is unknown but it is thought to have originated in the Mexico City are.
How long does chicken tortilla soup last in the fridge?
Up to 5 days when stored in an airtight container.
What type of cheese to use?
I sprinkle on Monterey Jack cheese but any shredded Mexican cheese you like will work. Ttry chihuahua, oaxaca, or cotija for something different. It adds the perfect amount of cheesy goodness to the soup.
Can I use rotisserie chicken for this soup?
If you happen to have leftover chicken on hand, dice up into bite-size pieces or shred and use in replace of the chicken breasts, just simmer it altogether.
Need more soup recipes? Try these:
Click here for my entire collection of soup recipes.
Originally published January 5, 2012