Spicy Chicken Enchilada Soup

When you want all the flavors of chicken enchiladas—and all the fixin’s—but don’t feel like cooking and cleaning for hours, try this quick & easy one-pot wonder! Because anyone can open a few cans and sauté some chicken. 

Enchilada sauce is awesome. I’m a big fan. Add chicken, tomatoes, cheese, chiles, and it’s hard to go wrong. But I’ve never really been able to get into enchiladas; the soft (read: soggy) tortillas just don’t do it for me. Plus, stuffing, rolling, baking, all that takes a lot of time—and makes for a lot of dirty dishes. No thanks.

ch-chilada soupFor all the flavor and then some, with none of the hassle, this soup is my new go-to quick dinner. And my enchilada-loving lover is happy, too. If you can open a bunch of cans and cook a couple chicken breasts, you can have dinner on the table in well under an hour. I love you, too.

My favorite toppings are avocado, fresh cilantro, black olives, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, but you can really get creative here. Cheese and sour cream are welcome additions, as are crumbled tortilla chips. You could serve this over rice or add some shredded lettuce. My dairy-loving Mr. even stirred a tablespoon of softened cream cheese into his bowl; it was absolutely delicious, but some of us are still actually trying in a family weight-loss competition.

This soup gets a few flavor boosts with a few simple tricks, and most of them can be found in your nearest canned-foods aisle. I used fire-roasted tomatoes as well as a can of Ro-Tel brand tomatoes with green chilies, which made for a spicy, fiery soup, but using regular diced tomatoes would still have great results. I also happened to have about 18 ounces of tomato juice on hand, after draining a large can of tomatoes to make pizza sauce earlier this week. You could easily replace this with 2 cups of chicken stock or even V8.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

serves 6 to 8 

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
  • 3 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil or other mild oil
  • 1  package taco seasoning
  • 1+ tsp. salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2  14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes (I like the flavor of Hunt’s Fire-Roasted)
  • 1  10 oz. can Ro-Tel tomatoes w/ green chilies
  • 2  10 oz. cans red enchilada sauce
  • 1  4 oz. can green chilies (optional, but encouraged)
  • 1  15 oz. can pinto or pink beans
  • 1  15 oz. can black beans
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup corn, frozen, canned or fresh (cut from the cob)
  • 2 1/2 cups tomato juice OR chicken stock
  • 1 cup of your favorite jarred salsa (optional)
  • 3/4 cups fresh cilantro, diced

For Serving

  • avocado
  • shredded cheese
  • black olives
  • sour cream
  • tortilla chips
  • lime
  • anything you want!

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add diced onions and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, translucent, and slightly browned. Add diced chicken and stir to coat w/ oil. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic pepper, and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook chicken until it begins to brown.

2. Open all cans! Drain and discard liquid from pinto/pink and black beans; set beans aside.  Add tomato juice OR chicken stock, stirring to scrape all the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add all tomatoes with their juices, both cans of enchilada sauce, green chilies, and salsa (if using) to cooked chicken mixture; simmer over low heat for 10+ minutes. Add pinto/pink and black beans, and taste soup for seasoning. (Each brand of beans and tomatoes will have varying levels of salt and chilies can vary in heat, too, so you may need to add more salt and black pepper.) Add diced bell pepper and corn, and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes while prepping avocado, lime, cheese, etc. for serving.

3. Rinse a large handful of cilantro; shake off excess water and chop fine**. Turn off the heat under your soup and stir in cilantro. Serve with your favorite toppings and an extra pinch of fresh cilantro.

Tell me some of your favorite toppings in the comments below!



  • This recipe is very forgiving and easy to stretch; simply add another chicken breast, another can of beans, a bit more salsa, and some extra chicken broth. I’ve also added sweet red bell peppers instead of green, and loved that flavor, too. Sometimes I throw in some hot sauce. Sometimes I use ground turkey instead of chicken breast. I think this is one of those dishes that you can change and play with a lot, and it always works!
  • The best way to chop herbs like cilantro into fine pieces is a technique called a chiffonade; you roll the herbs into a tight bunch, then finely chop them with a chef’s knife. Here’s a nifty tutorial.

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