This chicken enchilada soup recipe is not exactly the same as Chili’s chicken enchilada soup, but I think it’s just as comforting and delicious.
If you’ve been following me, you know I love a good bowl of chicken soup. I particularly love making my own rich, homemade chicken broth. This chicken enchilada soup recipe is a combination of big, bold flavors enveloped in the richest, savory chicken broth imaginable.
Like the famous Chili’s chicken enchilada soup, this soup uses enchilada sauce, peppers, tomatoes, tons of spices, and chicken. I lighten it up by omitting the masa harina and using just a bit of cream cheese. It’s not quite as creamy or cheesy as Chili’s, but it’s just as comforting.
How to make the broth for the soup:
First, we’ll start with the broth. All good soups start with an even better broth. The broth is the foundation and–in my opinion–the absolute most crucial part of the soup recipe.
The broth is made with just a few ingredients:
To get the most amount of flavor from the aromatics, I sear the onion and jalapeño until they’re charred. Charring the aromatics–even lightly–adds deep, smoky, caramelized undertones to your broth. It’s a step that’s well worth taking. The garlic is added in at the end, briefly, to brown the top. Be careful not to char the garlic, as it will add burnt and bitter flavors to your broth.
Once the vegetables are charred, the chicken goes into the pot along with water. Add a generous pinch of salt–but not too much; it will continue to cook and get salty as it cooks. You can always add more later.
The broth simmers, covered, for about 1 hour, at which point, you remove the chicken and set it aside to cool. Let the broth continue to simmer for 20 or so minutes until it reduces a bit and deepens in color (as you can see in the photos above).
From there, strain the broth through a sieve and discard the solids. Shred the chicken, add it to the bowl of broth, and you’re ready to move on to the soup.
How to make the chicken enchilada soup:
Once the broth is done, wipe out the pot. For the soup, you only need a handful of ingredients, including:
- Diced onion and bell peppers
- Chili powder, cumin, paprika, and cayenne powder
- Diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- Diced tomatoes with chilis (I used Ro*tel’s canned tomatoes with habanero, but green chilies work too!)
- Black beans
- Enchilada sauce
- Cream cheese, if you like it a little rich
Once the legwork of the broth is done, the soup comes together quickly.
- Step 1: Sauté the onions and peppers.
- Step 2: Melt butter in the pot and add the spices. Let them sizzle in the fat until they become fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Step 3: Pour in the chicken broth and shredded chicken.
- Step 4: Add the canned tomatoes, black beans, and enchilada sauce.
- Step 4: Finish with cream cheese.
What to serve with chicken enchilada soup:
What you serve is really up to your preferences, but here are a few suggestions:
- Minced red onion
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Lime wedges
- Tortilla strips
- Sliced serrano or jalapeño pepper
- Mexican crema
This chicken enchilada soup is one of the most comforting soups for a cold, dreary day. It has just the right amount of richness without being too heavy. You’ll absolutely love it.
Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 2 –3 jalapeños, trimmed and halved
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 4 pounds chicken, whole or cut up
- 8 –10 cups water
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 2 bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 14.5- ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 10- ounce can diced tomatoes and habaneros (optional)
- 15- ounce can black beans, drained
- 15- ounce can red enchilada sauce
- 4 ounces softened cream cheese, optional
- Salt and pepper to taste
- For serving:
- Cilantro, cotija or grated cheese, avocado, lime wedges, minced red onion, or sliced serrano pepper
Prepare the broth:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion and jalapeños and cook for 2–3 minutes until they begin to char. Add the garlic, cut side down, for 1 minute until it begins to brown.
- Place the chicken on top and pour over 8–10 cups of water, enough to completely submerge the chicken. Season with a teaspoon or two of salt. It will cook down and become quite salty, so there is no need to go too heavy with it.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Check the broth occasionally and skim off any foam or scum that floats to the top.
- After 1 hour, remove the chicken from the pot and transfer it to a bowl.
Finish the broth and shred the chicken:
- Turn the heat to medium or medium-high. You want it hot enough to maintain a rapid simmer but not boil vigorously. Simmer rapidly for 20 minutes.
- Strain the broth into a large bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard solids.
- Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat from the bones and add it to the bowl of broth.
- Carefully wipe out the pot with a damp cloth and return the pot to the stovetop.
Prepare the soup:
- Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium-high heat in the pot. Add the diced onion and peppers and cook, occasionally stirring, for 5–7 minutes. Season lightly with salt.
- Melt the butter into the onion and peppers. Once bubbly, add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne powder, and paprika. Toss to coat and sizzle the spices in the butter for about 1 minute.
- Pour in the reserved broth and shredded chicken. Next, pour in the diced tomatoes, black beans, and enchilada sauce cans. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and season to your preferences.
Finish the soup:
- Stir in the softened cream cheese if using. Continue cooking until it’s completely melted into the broth.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!
I made this yesterday and it was delicious. The broth is very much worth the time it takes to make it and was my favorite part. I have a toddler who can handle mild heat so I only put half the chili powder and cayenne pepper. I used mild red enchilada sauce and did not use the diced tomatoes with habaneros. I served the soup with tortilla chips, diced avocado, cilantro (for my husband), cotija cheese and a lime wedge. Everyone loved it. Will definitely make again.
I’m so happy it was a hit! Thank you so much!