Favorite Chicken Enchilada Soup

Prep: 10 min Cook: 25 Serves: 4-8


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs patted dry OR rotisserie chicken (see notes)
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (NOT cayenne pepper-see notes)
  • 1 tsp EACH ground cumin, ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, dried oregano
  • 1 yellow onion, diced may sub 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced may sub 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 cups reduced sodium chicken broth divided
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 15 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes not drained
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can sweet corn rinsed and drained
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chilies
  • 3/4 cup masa harina see notes

Add later:

  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese cubed, very soft
  • 4 oz. (1 cup) freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • lime juice to taste


  • Tortilla chips or crushed tortilla strips
  • sour cream
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • cilantro
  • lime juice


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. Season chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper then sear until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a plate but leave drippings.
  2. While the chicken is searing, whisk together all of the seasonings (chili powder through oregano); set aside.
  3. To the now empty pot, add one additional tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and all seasonings; sauté for 4 minutes scraping up the golden bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and sauté an additional 60 seconds.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, then add chicken back to pan along with 3 cans chicken broth (approx. 6 cups), cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and green chilies. In a separate bowl, whisk masa harina with remaining chicken broth until no lumps remain then stir into soup.
  5. Cover the soup to bring to a simmer, then displace the lid so it’s partially covering the pot, with about a one-inch opening. Simmer the soup for 12-15 minutes or until chicken is tender enough to shred.
  6. Remove chicken to a cutting board. Let chicken rest 5 minutes then shred into bite-size pieces (don’t add back to soup yet).
  7. Meanwhile, reduce heat to low and stir in cream cheese until melted followed by shredded cheese until melted. Stir chicken back into soup. Stir in cilantro and lime juice to taste. Add additional chicken broth if desired to thin to desired consistency if desired. Season with additional salt/pepper/hot sauce to taste. Serve with desired toppings.



  • Rotisserie chicken:  sub chicken thighs with about 3 cups shredded chicken to the soup at the end of cooking with the cilantro and heat through.
  • Masa harina:  should be easy to find at your grocery store in the flour aisle or Latin aisle. Look for finely ground as opposed to coarse ground which is used in tamales.  The most common type is white masa harina, which is made from dried white corn or you can also use yellow masa harina, which is made from dried yellow corn. The white is a bit sweeter, but both will work.  You may or may not see “instant” on the label – both will work great.  See post for masa harina substitutions. 
  • CHILI POWDER INTERNATIONAL WARNING: American Chili powder is a blend of chilies, cumin, garlic powder, and herbs with a ratio of one-part cayenne to seven parts the other spices.  Chili powders sold in other parts of the world, however, are 100% chile pepper and 8X hotter than chili powder! So, please use American-style chili powder to make this recipe or your mouth will be on FIRE!
  • Prep Ahead.  You can trim the chicken, chop your onions, garlic and cilantro in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  You can prep all your topping ahead of time or while yours soup is simmering.
  • Make it less thick. I love my soup thick BUT the consistency of this Chicken Enchilada Soup is totally up to you!.  For a thinner soup, simply add additional chicken broth.
  • Use soft cream cheese. In order for your cream cheese to melt seamlessly, it needs to be very soft. Cube the cream cheese and microwave for 20-30 seconds until very soft.
  • Make it less creamy.  You can use more or less cream cheese depending on how creamy you would like your soup. You can even omit it completely and add some sour cream and extra cheese.
  • Cheese:  Use freshly shredded cheeses as opposed to pre-packaged cheeses so the cheese will melt seamlessly.  Packaged cheeses are treated with anti-clumping chemicals which prevents the cheese from melting as well.
  • Double the recipe. This soup is fabulous for crowds and can be easily doubled ahead of time and reheated later.
  • Season to taste.  Spice it up with hot sauce or cayenne pepper, add lime juice for more tanginess, add salt to enhance the flavors.


Chicken Enchilada Soup freezes very well without the addition of the cheese and cream cheese as dairy tends to separate when frozen.  If you know you want to freeze the soup, omit the cheese and cream cheese.

  1. Omit dairy.  Prepare soup according to directions but omit the cream cheese and cheddar.
  2. Cool. Cool Chicken Enchilada Soup completely before freezing.
  3. Package soup in a freezer safe container.  You can use sandwich size plastic bags for individual soup portions, quart size bags or freezer bags.  To easy fill these bags, place them in a container that you can wrap the top around the edge of – for example, place a sandwich size bag in a mug then cuff the edges around the mug.  This keeps the bag open and prevents it from collapsing when you are pouring in your Chicken Enchilada Soup.   Final packaging tip, make sure to let out any excess air before you seal.
  4. Label. Make sure to label your bags so it doesn’t’ become a freezer mystery.  You also want to label so you can be sure to use your soup within 3 months.
  5. Freeze. Once the bag is solid you can lay it flat in a single layer so it’s stackable to save space.
  6. Defrost/Reheat. The easiest way to thaw your soup is in your refrigerator overnight then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  7. Add dairy. Once the soup is warm, stir in cream cheese until melted followed by cheese until melted.

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