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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!

overhead shot of copycat on the border chicken tortilla soup topped with a lime wedge.

Tortilla Soup

Have you been to On the Border? It’s a chain Mexican restaurant and I’m a big fan.

I’ve already shared a copycat On the Border salsa recipe (super easy, made in the blender) and now you can make this tortilla soup to go with it and some tortilla chips.

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.
bowl of chicken tortilla soup.

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.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make chicken tortilla soup.

How to make Chicken Tortilla Soup

  1. STEP ONE: First, season the chicken and set aside. Add the broth, diced onion, and salsa to a soup pot and heat until boiling.
  2. 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.
  3. STEP THREE: Next, add in the rice and chopped zucchini. Cook 15 minutes or until the rice is tender.
  4. STEP FOUR: Finally, scoop the soup into bowls and top with fresh cilantro and whatever toppings you like.
collage of 4 photos showing the process of making on the border copycat chicken tortilla soup.

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

If you want a full blown Mexican-themed dinner, try serving this soup with air fryer tortilla chips, homemade salsa, and sour cream chicken enchiladas, with Mexican wedding cake for dessert.

closeup of on the border copycat chicken tortilla soup topped with cheese and lime.

Possible Substitutions/Additions

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.

wooden ladle scooping tortilla soup from a soup pot.


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:

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
30 Minute Chicken Noodle Soup
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Soup

Click here for my entire collection of soup recipes.

wooden ladle scooping tortilla soup from a soup pot.

Did You Make This?

If you made this recipe, I’d love to know how it went in the comments section below.

You can also tag me on Instagram – @melissa_ppplates or share a pic in the Persnickety Plates Community Facebook group. I love seeing what you’ve tried!

overhead shot of copycat on the border chicken tortilla soup topped with a lime wedge.
4.60 from 22 votes

Chicken Tortilla Soup {On the Border Copycat}

Servings: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
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!


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 48 ounces chicken broth
  • ½ cup yellow onion diced
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 5 Tablespoons uncooked white rice
  • 1 medium zucchini halved & sliced into half moons
  • ½ cup shredded monterey jack cheese
  • chopped cilantro for garnish


  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, and cumin and set aside.
  • In a large saucepan or dutch oven, add the chicken broth, diced onion, and salsa. Heat over medium heat until boiling.
  • Once boiling, add chicken breasts.
  • Boil the chicken until it is opaque (10-12 minutes, make sure chicken reaches 165° internal temperature). Carefully remove the boiled chicken, shred it, then add it back to broth.
  • Add in the rice & zucchini.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender.
  • Spoon into bowls and garnish with tortilla strips, cheese, and cilantro.


Store leftovers in airtight container for up to 5 days. 
Topping ideas: tortilla strips, crushed tortilla chips, sliced avocado, sour cream or Greek yogurt, cilantro, slice of lime, green onions, etc.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 198kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 1132mg | Potassium: 506mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 271IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 102mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Did you make this recipe?

Tag me on Instagram @melissa_pplates so I can see!

Originally published January 5, 2012

Persnickety Plates: Chicken Tortilla Soup

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