Chicken Tortilla Soup

Cumin, oregano and chili powder are the three sisters of the spice world for me. They complement each other so well and add flavor to countless dishes that I have made. The spring weather here in northwest Arkansas has been crazy lately and I needed a good spicy soup with beans and protein to ground me in this season of change. I went camping on the tail waters of Beaver Lake this weekend and leftover tortilla soup was an outdoor delight at sunset next to the scenic White River.

You can do a lot of variations with this recipe such as adding cooked tortilla strips, sour cream on top and taking the chicken out to make it vegetarian. Vary the heat level by leaving out the jalapeno and changing the amount of cayenne pepper you add. Above all, make sure you cook down the onions until their volume is reduced by at least half to add their savory goodness to this soup.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 tbsp chicken bouillon
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp oregano flakes
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • One 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • One 28-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 lime, cut in half
  • Pepper
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Monterrey jack cheese


  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 20 minutes until volume is reduced and it is very soft. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add bouillon, water, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, tomatoes, beans and chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through for about 20 minutes. Once chicken is cooked, remove it from the pot and shred into bite-size pieces. Squeeze half of lime and grind fresh pepper over soup and add shredded chicken.
  3. Heat tortillas in pan in one teaspoon of butter for one minute per side and then cut into thin strips. Spoon soup into bowl and add tortilla strips, avocado slices and grated cheese. Enjoy!




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