Simple, healthy, and delicious, this best ever chicken tortilla soup can be made on the stovetop, in the pressure cooker or with a slow cooker. Awesome!

The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup

We have a few more days of holiday break before the insanity of Real Life begins anew.

Plus, we’re getting back from a quick trip to see Brian’s parents, which means I’m buried in laundry (and an extra leaky ceiling that decided to continue its inside raining talents while we were out of town), so I’m extra grateful for super simple, amazingly delicious meals like today’s recipe (not to mention it’s going to be in the single digits here all week and my heart is going to be longing for soup every single meal of every single day).

Chicken Tortilla Soup is both amazing and delicious.

It is one of my favorite soups in all the world. There’s something about piling all those toppings on top of the soup and relishing the 1001 flavors that just gets me.

I’ve been wanting a killer version of chicken tortilla soup for a while, and not only does this fit the bill for tremendous flavor and tastiness, it also gets major bonus points for versatility.

Make it in the Instant Pot, on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

I know. The options. They are glorious and wonderful.

The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve included directions for all three cooking methods, and it really is delicious however you choose to make it.

If I had to commit, I’d say my preference is definitely making it in the pressure cooker, because I’m madly in love with my Instant Pot…just like half the world is also after Black Friday and Christmas.

I swear, I had at least 43 friends pick up an Instant Pot between November and December.

Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t have 43 friends.

However, I’m fairly confident at least a bazillion people bought one in the last couple months (how’s that for an accurate scientific analysis of Instant Pot sales?).

Did you get one?

The Best Chicken Tortilla Soup

I feel a little bit like an Instant Pot grandma since I’ve been using one for a while now. But it really is a fantastic machine. I have tons of new pressure cooker recipes to share with you this year.

For now, I hope you’re putting this chicken tortilla soup on your menu plan as soon as possible.

It’s healthy and simple and delicious and really quite perfect. Plus, with all the cooking options, you really don’t have a lot of excuses not to make it.

A Quick Bit of Business: I took the last two Fridays off from sending out a weekly newsletter (hello, holidays) but I’ll be back at it this Friday! In December, I gave you an exclusive recipe every Friday to celebrate the holidays. Starting this month and throughout the year, I’ll be sending out one exclusive recipe each month with the newsletter. If you haven’t subscribed to the weekly newsletters, you can do that here!

One Year Ago: Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps {20-Minute Meal}
Two Years Ago: Korean Beef and Rice {Or Quinoa}: Simple 20-Minute Meal
Three Years Ago: Tuscan Sausage and White Bean Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Instant Pot, Stovetop, Slow Cooker}

Yield: Serves 6-ish

Chicken Tortilla Soup {Instant Pot, Stovetop, Slow Cooker}

Let's talk about those corn tortillas for a second. I like adding the chopped corn tortillas while the soup is cooking - they soften and dissolve a little bit in the soup adding a yummy texture, and they thicken the soup slightly. You don't have to add them if you don't want, or you can substitute them with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of masa harina (I haven't tried it with regular cornmeal, but I'm guessing it would work).

Ingredients

  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds (about 3 medium) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 to 4 corn tortillas, chopped (see note above)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sour cream, shredded cheese, cilantro, lime wedges, avocados, crispy tortilla strips or chips, and other desired toppings, for serving (optional)

Directions

  1. Pressure cooker: Using the saute function, heat the olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, jalapeño and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  2. Add the salt, pepper, chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, oregano, and cumin, chicken, and chopped tortillas. Stir.
  3. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 7 minutes.
  4. Let the pressure naturally release for 10-15 minutes before using quick release for the remaining pressure.
  5. Stir in the corn and lime juice. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
  6. Stovetop: In a 4- or 5-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onion, garlic, jalapeño and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
  7. Add the salt, pepper, chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir.
  8. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken and chopped tortillas; cook for 8-10 minutes more until the chicken is cooked through.
  10. Stir in the corn and lime juice. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
  11. Slow Cooker: In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and saute the onion, garlic, jalapeño and bell pepper for 2-3 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Scrape the mixture into the slow cooker (you can skip this pre-cooking step, but I like to do it since I find that sometimes the onions don't soften all the way when cooking).
  12. Add the salt, pepper, chicken broth, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, oregano, cumin, chicken, and chopped tortillas. Stir.
  13. Cook for 4-6 hours on low or 2-3 on high. Stir in the corn and lime juice. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with desired toppings.
https://www.melskitchencafe.com/chicken-tortilla-soup/

Recipe Source: from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe


108 Responses to Chicken Tortilla Soup {Instant Pot, Stovetop, Slow Cooker}

  1. April says:

    My Husband and I are not fans of corn tortillas, but I do like the sounds of a chopped up tortilla in my soup! Do you think I could use flour tortillas? Would that change the taste or texture? Thanks!

    • Jo says:

      My guess it that a flour tortilla will become “gummy” in the soup.

    • Mel says:

      I kind of agree that the flour tortillas will turn gummy, but having said that, I’ve used a flour tortilla that’s a blend of corn and flour and it worked great. You could just try leaving them out and topping with crushed tortilla chips (if you like those)?

  2. Anita says:

    Just got my Instant Pot today and this was the first thing we cooked It was delicious!!! Will definitely be making it again!

  3. Kelli says:

    Do you think this would freeze very well? I’m only feeding 2 or 3 and don’t want to half the recipe since I don’t want half a can of sauce, tomatoes, and beans left over…
    Thank you!

  4. Deborah says:

    Mel, I don’t see in the comments that anyone else had this issue, but after I had sautéed and added all ingredients but the 2.96 pounds of chicken, my 6 qt. IP was already over 2/3’s full. I finished on the stove top as I didn’t want to overfill according to the IP manual recommendation of no more than 2/3’s full. Perhaps I used more than 1/2 cup chopped onions (didn’t measure), and I used a large red pepper. Regardless, the soup was wonderful and I had an excuse to order the 8 qt. IP. (The price is reduced on Amazon right now!)

    • Mel says:

      Hi Deborah – I think I use the “max” line on the Instant Pot as my guide for soups like this – that’s probably the difference. But I also have the 8-quart and love it (hope you will too!).

      • Deborah says:

        I meant to say 1.96 lbs. chicken. I know I’ll enjoy the 8 qt. IP even more since my daughter told me about your website and the several great recipes of yours she already tried. She has yet to be disappointed by one!

  5. Carrie says:

    MEL!!! I just have to tell you how much I love you! Besides the fact that I made this recipe in my IP tonight and it was amazing, you have turned me into a Cook! I have always loathed dinner time, hated cooking, and convinced myself that I was really terrible at it. That is until my sis in law introduced me to your blog. Every recipe I have tried is super easy and so so tasty! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  6. Jaime says:

    Thank you for all of the Instant Pot options in your recipes lately. I had a few tortilla soup recipes, but this will now be my only tortilla soup recipe!!

  7. Holly says:

    I would love a general post about how to convert a regular recipe to Instant Pot. I’ve had some IP successes and flops. Want to stay away from the flops!

  8. Julie says:

    I’m in love with this recipe!! Thanks!!

  9. Kirstin says:

    I’ve made a very similar version before, but instead of the onions and peppers and diced tomatoes, just used my favorite canned salsa. I love it!

  10. Ashlee says:

    This was delicious! Thanks!!! I got my IP recently too. Keep the recipes coming!

  11. Monica says:

    I made this soup, the pressure cooker version, and it was a hit with everyone. It was so fabulous! So yummy! I’ve made a lot of your recipes and this is the first one I am commenting on, because it was so easy and turned out so good. My husband needs to be on a low-carb diet, and this was perfect for him. (I omitted the tortilla strips.) Thanks for the recipe!

  12. Marisa says:

    Made the stove top version of this, and it was absolutely delicious! So excited to have it for supper again tonight. That kick of lime juice at the end send it over the top. Thanks for a great recipt!

  13. Lynn says:

    This is a great recipe! I know that stove top might not take that long, since it’s really just simmering, but there’s something about setting the IP and letting it do its thing without stirring or bothering it! My four children all gave this multiple thumbs-up (one said 50 thumbs up). The lime juice helped cut down the jalapeño spice (we want more, kids want less), and no one said “it’s too hot!” Also – the classic italian lasagna got huge thumbs up this week too – so delicious and so worth it!

  14. Robin says:

    Yup, I got the IP and LOVE it! Been singing it’s praises to everyone I know. Can’t wait to give this soup a whirl. Hubby can’t eat corn so I plan to omit the tortillas and offer corn chips as topping for everyone else.

  15. Janelle says:

    So my instant pot sat in its box for about a month-I was quite intimidated by it. But this recipe made me pull it out. We LOVED it, so delicious and easy! I knew my first instant pot recipe had to be one of your recipes because they never fail. My husband, whose quite opinionated, said it was better than any restaurants soup. Thanks again!!

  16. Megan says:

    This soup was my maiden voyage recipe for my IP, and I am so happy with how it turned out! I ended up using whole chicken breasts, and just increased the time to 18 minutes. I then shredded them with my paddle attachment on my stand mixer. It turned out perfectly! Thank you for you for your awesome recipes!

  17. amber says:

    I made this last night! Sooo yummy. Used bone in chicken breast and cooked for 12 minutes in the instantpot. It was very tender! Delicious!!

  18. Gilliane says:

    I made this last night for my family and a couple of my children’s friends. It was a HUGE hit. 7 bowls licked clean. I made it in the crockpot exactly as instructed. You never disappoint-thanks for another awesome recipe!

  19. Angie says:

    So excited to finally use my new IP with this recipe next week. I know I can always trust anything that comes from you! Looking forward to lots of recipes using the IP this year. Also, I never use corn tortillas for anything. Do you have a brand that you prefer? Thanks for everything, Mel! You’re the best. 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hey Angie! I hope you love this! I usually buy the corn+wheat tortillas at Trader Joe’s but if not, I think the Mission brand is the most widely available corn tortilla in my neck of the woods.

      • Angie says:

        Made this last night for dinner–used my Instant Pot for the first time. My husband said everything I touch turns to magic–and I have you to thank for that compliment because your recipes are always so incredible. Thank you for yet another delicious, easy, dependable Mel recipe! 🙂

  20. Sara O says:

    Hi! I am excited for this recipe! I plan to make it in a slow cooker on Sunday. I was hoping to use left over chicken from a roast chicken we are having for dinner tonight. Think that would be okay? Just toss it in at the beginning or should I wait until the last 30 minutes to put it in since it will be fully cooked before hand? Thanks!

  21. Jim says:

    I made this on the stovetop tonight and it was FANTASTIC!! (Although I just discovered now that I forgot the oregano. Oops!) I thought it was perfect as is, but I think my wife (not home right now) might like the spiciness lowered a notch. What would you suggest? Omit the jalapeno? Reduce the chili powder and/or cumin?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jim, since chili powder can vary in spiciness depending on brand, I’m guessing that may be the culprit. So I’d either omit the jalapeño or reduce the chili powder by half.

  22. Alicia says:

    Add me to the “this was awesome” fan club! I have an older, non-IP electric pressure cooker, but it still worked great. This was delish, and I agree it’s one of the best Chicken Tortilla Soup recipes I’ve made (and I’ve made a bunch). Thanks, Mel!

    • Mel says:

      Glad to hear that and love that you are a non-electric pressure cooker user. I have a stovetop one I love, too, and pull it out to use it all the time.

  23. Amy C. says:

    I made this this afternoon in the slow cooker and it was really good. The only changes I made were to use chicken thighs instead of breasts and I didn’t have limes to juice so I left that out. My family really liked it!

  24. Angela says:

    I got an Instant Pot 2 years ago for Christmas, and I probably had only used it 10 times or so before Mel started posting recipes for it. Now I use it much more frequently and love it! This soup is the bomb! My family loved it! My daughter printed out the recipe to put in her new recipe binder she got for Christmas.

    • Angela says:

      Oh, and the chicken was super tender… not how it usually turns out in my soups. Must have been the pressure cooker action.

  25. Courtney says:

    I don’t have the tortillas, could I use tortilla chips instead?

  26. Sarah says:

    Okay when your recipes say they feed 6-ish is that enough to feed your family of 7? I feel like I’m always on the edge of not having enough for my big family, but doubling would be way too much. Obviously if I doubled I’d to stovetop or crockpot method. What do you think? Is it enough for your crew?

    • Mel says:

      I totally hear you on this. Because my 4-year old and 11-year old aren’t super big eaters, I can get away with making recipes like this for my family of 7, if that makes sense. Serving sizes are always tricky just based on who’s eating, how old they are, and how big of an eater they are. Generally speaking, I usually note in the recipe if I’ve doubled or halved again in order to feed my family (if that makes sense). So yes, this recipe is big enough for my family, but it doesn’t yield a lot of leftovers.

  27. Connie says:

    I got an Instant Pot for Christmas too, and tried this as my first recipe last night. (After much careful reading of the user manual!!) I was slightly nervous, but it all went well, and the whole family loved it! Thanks so much Mel!

  28. Kari says:

    I made this last night and the flavor of this soup is AMAZING! It was a huge hit with the whole family. I was super excited you posted a pressure cooker recipe since I was one of the millions who bought one just recently 😉 you’re a lifesaver as always!

  29. Teresa Wilson says:

    Wow! The flavours were amazing in the Instant Pot! Please keep the IP recipes coming!

  30. Alli says:

    Do you think this could freeze well?

  31. Nora Kay Livingston says:

    I made this today and it was awesome. I was out of tomato sauce so I just put two cans of tomatoes in. Can’t imagine how good it would be if I made it right. Love the little zing that the lime juice adds. Thank you.

  32. Sarah D. says:

    Hi Mel,
    Yes, I got an Instant Pot on Black Friday and have loved using it. I can’t wait for more recipes. I made this soup last night and my husband loved it. (I’m a vegetarian so didn’t eat any.) The tortillas dissolved into the soup perfectly. My boys liked it but thought it was too spicy (?!). They eat guacamole all the time with jalapeños and I am careful to remove the seeds and ribs, so I don’t think that was it. Do you think I could reduce the chili powder to make it less spicy? Thanks!

  33. Melanie says:

    We enjoyed this for dinner tonight. Delicious!! Even my picky eater loved it. Thank you for another amazing recipe!

  34. Bonnie says:

    I got one on Black Friday and waited until Christmas to use it. I’ll admit I was nervous as I’ve never used a pressure cooker at all. But I’ve made yogurt, roast (still need to find a perfect recipe), boiled eggs, and the other day I made your refried beans. Delish! Can’t wait to try this. Thank you thank you!
    Question, I’ve noticed that most people say to use Manual for timing what they cook instead of the “Stew/Soup” “Porridge” etc. Why is that? From trial and error of those settings not working so well? Thanks for all the IP posts. I know I can trust your recipes. :0)

    • Mel says:

      Bonnie – that’s a good question and my answer is that I stick to the Manual setting because I know for certain it works and don’t have the desire to fiddle around with other settings.

  35. Suzanne says:

    Made this for dinner- everyone loved it! Didn’t have tomato sauce so I used a can of tomato paste with an extra 1/2 cup of water. Thanks Mel!

  36. Maureen says:

    Mel, as I’m waiting for the pressure to come down on my soup, I have to tell you how much I appreciate you giving us the 3 different cooking methods for this. I originally was going to leisurely do the stove top, but then realized didn’t have the time, so was really nice to pressure cook it. And I for one am all for more pressure cooker recipes. Think I need to say “thank you” more often. You have really made a difference in my cooking world.

  37. Kelly says:

    This was awesome! Made it in the IP yesterday and it is one of the best chicken tortilla soup I’ve made and I’ve tried a bunch. One issue I seem to have a lot with the IP is the lack of salt but with this recipe, it was perfect!

  38. Melissa says:

    I’m brand new to Instant Pot–this is my first time! I have these ingredients in the pot right now and am wondering about the setting. After I saute, should I switch to the soup setting? Or Stew? Or poultry? Thanks for helping out a beginner!

  39. Dawn says:

    So when using the stovetop method, you just throw the chicken in raw, and it cooks in the soup? Or do you pre-cook the chicken cubes?

  40. Ashley says:

    Have you ever tried doubling a recipe in instant pot? I’m wondering if I doubled this, would the cooking time change?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Ashley, I don’t think a doubled recipe of this would fit safely in the Instant Pot (usually, though, you don’t have to add time if doubling, as long as it doesn’t exceed the fill line in the pressure cooker – keeping in mind that foods that expand should only fill the pressure cooker halfway full).

  41. Tanya M. says:

    Yep! Received an IP for Christmas and just starting to make lots of yummy recipes with it… this one is next! I love this type of soup!
    Sorry about the water leaks— that’s never fun!!! 🙁
    Happy new year to ya!!

  42. Lori says:

    My husband bought me an Instant Pot because he was on the bandwagon but I wasn’t so sure. He laughs because I now have become the spokesperson and tells everyone about them! By the way, I have a similar recipe for tortilla soup done on the stove and it calls for corn meal, it works great and tastes yummy.

  43. KB says:

    So sorry to hear about the continuing flooding.
    Although preferable to a fire, a flood is a drag: destructive and painful to clean up.

  44. Emilee says:

    I jumped on the bandwagon and got an instant pot! I’m going to add this soup to the rotation this month. I also plan on trying your chicken and black bean chili in my instant pot.

  45. Heather says:

    Thanks for deciding what I’m making for dinner tonight! FYI your instructions don’t say when to include the oregano. I guessed I should put it in with the other spices?

  46. Dani B says:

    It was delicious! I had frozen chicken tenders, so increased the cooking time to 14 minutes to account for the frozen meat. It did take quite a while for my Instant Pot to reach pressure, but the hands-free aspect of it way outweighs the additional time. Start to finish was about an hour. I didn’t do the tortillas – just had tortilla chips in our soup. Can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow!!

  47. Cara E says:

    Made this in my Instant Pot tonight and it was fabulous! I do have one question though, are.the tortillas supposed to disappear into the broth?

  48. Liz says:

    Could I add rice to this if making it in the pressure cooker or would that change the cooking time?

    • Mel says:

      You could definitely try – usually white rice cooks in 3-4 minutes and brown rice takes more like 22 minutes so I’m afraid it might be over done or under done but you could definitely experiment.

      • Liz says:

        We cooked the rice on the stove using some of the broth from the soup and then added it all back into the soup. It was delicious. We’ll definitely be making this again!

  49. Tauna says:

    i’m one of those that got an instant pot for Christmas and I’m looking forward to learning how to use it. Thanks for sharing your tried and true recipes for me to start with. This soup looks delicious

  50. Dani B says:

    Making this for dinner! I was a Black Friday Instant Pot purchaser (thanks to your informative and enthusiastic posts singing its praises!) Looking forward to more Instant Pot recipes from you in 2017!

  51. Crystal says:

    Mel, what was the name of your favorite pressure cooker cookbook? I remember you mentioning it, but I can’t find it.

  52. Laura D says:

    I tried substiting cornmeal. It works best if you whisk it with some water or broth (more liquid than cornmeal) before adding, like a cornstarch slurry, otherwise it can develop clumps. Great soup!

  53. Carol says:

    Looking for healthy low salt reciepes and I love chicken tortilla soup. Thanks it looks so good
    Carol W.

  54. Karalee says:

    If using a crockpot, you don’t add the frozen corn until cooking time is up? Do you cook for any additional amount of time?

    • Mel says:

      I don’t cook it any extra. The heat of the soup warms up the corn but keeps it fresh-tasting. You could certainly try adding it during cooking or cooking it longer, if you’d like.

    • Angela says:

      I agree. The heat from the soup will warm the corn enough. Cook the corn too much and it will get mushy, no?

  55. Angela says:

    You don’t have 43 friends?!?!? Funny, but wrong. I think you are my friend and I don’t really “know” you . I got an instant pot for Christmas and have made sweet baked ham, brown rice and mashed potatoes. Can’t wait to try this and the other recipes coming this year. Thanks for being my best virtual friend!

  56. Lindsay says:

    Raising my hand to say that YES! I jumped on the instant pot bandwagon when the Black Friday deals were too good to pass up. I love all your recipes and am thrilled to hear you’ll keep the IP recipes coming. Thanks, Mel!

  57. Jessica G says:

    This looks great and I can’t wait to try it (likely this week)! Could you combine the IP and slow cooker method and saute in the IP and then switch to slow cooker method? I am thinking I could start it before work and then it can cook all day.

  58. Alyssa says:

    if using chicken thighs (my go to for all crockpot recipes), how long in the instant pot?

  59. Laurel says:

    I had 14 friends get IP this year. I just taught a beginners class to 10 of them and have another class coming up. Can’t wait to tell them about this recipe. It sounds so good. We’re up to 18″ of snow so I think I’ll get this going right away!

  60. Helen says:

    This looks so yummy … and after our more than a foot of snow that fell last night, the deep freeze is setting in here in Cache Valley. Can’t wait to make this… probably will try it all ways, just ’cause I can. Oh and by the way, you have WAY more than 43 friends… Hello thousands of blog readers who all think they are your best friends… just sayin’ Love you Mel!

  61. Liz says:

    This sounds perfect for this super-cold back to work week! I’ve been making your creamy black bean taco soup since it came up on the Weekly Menu a week or 3 ago. This will be a nice variation.

    • Jessica says:

      I’ve wanted to try the creamy black bean chili in the instantpot, but not sure how to convert it. Any tips?! I’m afraid I’ll mess it up if I just try because of the flour/cheese combo. Thanks!

      • Liz says:

        Jessica, Mel may have a different thought, but I’m not sure the creamy black bean taco soup is an Instant Pot candidate … it is pretty quick stovetop since you are cooking ground meat and using cooked beans … and then the roux part, i.e. there is no long time cooking needed and it is not really a “‘dump in and go”.

        However, you could try searching for “creamy soups Instant Pot” or “roux in Instant Pot” and see what comes up.

        • Mel says:

          I couldn’t have said it any better myself! Those would be by exact thoughts, Jessica. Using the IP for the creamy black bean soup wouldn’t save you anytime…and roux mixtures can be kind of finicky in the IP.

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