This copycat Panera Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe features tender chicken, green chile, black beans, corn, and crispy tortilla strips in a savory, southwest-flavored broth. You can have this easy, gluten free, healthy soup on the table in 30 minutes!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - About Copycat Soup
Have you ever been to a restaurant and just loved the soup? I have... more than once. When I came home from New Mexico with 10 pounds of roasted Hatch green chile, I was looking for healthy or healthyish ways to use it. I thought of this Panera chicken tortilla soup recipe. It's a perfect vehicle for Hatch green chile!
I do not have a recipe for the Panera chicken soup, but I'm pretty good at determining ingredients in a dish. And soups are relatively simple. Additionally, there are ingredients listed on line for their canned version, and a few reviews that help. So, this chicken tortilla soup is a combination of my taste buds and knowledge of flavor profiles, and online sources. I think the end result is pretty close.
I know Panera bread features multi-colored bright tortillas. I am not a fan of food coloring, and I really don't think they use natural ingredients to achieve their brilliant hues. I don't really know. My copycat chicken tortilla soup tastes great with baked or air fryer tortilla strips.
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- chicken - Either boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat will work in this soup recipe.
- ground cumin
- chicken broth
- canned tomatoes with their juice
- Mexican oregano
- ground red chile powder - Use ancho, chipotle, or NM red chile powder. Generic "chili powder" is a spice blend that includes other ingredients.
- black beans - This recipe requires cooked black beans, but they can be rinsed and drained canned black beans or cooked from dried.
- green chile - I never miss an opportunity to plug Hatch green chile. You need chopped green chile, and there are a few options. I love to pull a package of roasted Hatch green chile from my freezer, thaw, stem, and seed, then chop it. You can use commercial chile like this frozen chopped green chile or this canned green chile.
- corn - Fresh off the cob, frozen corn, or canned corn will work in this recipe.
- corn tortillas
- cheese - I prefer crumbled cotija, but you can use queso fresco, Mexican blend, or your favorite cheese!
- lime wedges and cilantro for garnish
See recipe card for quantities. 😀
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Start to finish you need about 30 minutes to complete this soup!
- Brown the chicken - In a heavy soup pot, brown the chicken in a drizzle of olive oil. The chicken should not be fully cooked, but you do want to see some caramelization (browning). Remove from the pot and set aside.
- Sauté the aromatics - To the same pot, add a drizzle of olive oil (if pan is dry) over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion. Cook until fragrant and beginning to soften -about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ground cumin, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Avoid burning the garlic!
- Make the soup - Add broth, partially cooked chicken, Mexican oregano, red chile powder, and tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes before adding the green chile, corn, and black beans. Simmer an additional 10 minutes covered. While the soup simmers, prepare the garnishes (including tortilla strips).
- To serve - Ladle the chicken tortilla soup into bowls. Garnish with prepared tortilla strips, lime wedges, cheese, and chopped cilantro as desired. Enjoy!
How do I make the crispy tortilla strips?
I use the air fryer mode on my microwave. I cut corn tortillas in thin strips (see photo below), spray lightly with olive oil or cooking spray, lightly salt, and cook them about 10 minutes at 375°.
Most of the time when I'm not cooking for the blog, I don't follow the recipe. 😉 Here are a few ideas for "ad libbing."
- Spicy - Add hot green chile, a chipotle in adobo (or two), or a dash of cayenne.
- Decadent - Garnish with a scoop of sour cream and avocado slices, or melt your favorite cheese over top.
- Kid friendly - Omit the green chile and add macaroni (or other small pasta).
- Extra Healthy - Add additional vegetables like carrots, kale, or green beans.
- Vegetarian - Replace chicken with a quality vegetarian protein like Just Like Chicken or extra firm tofu. Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth.
If you've got part of a rotisserie chicken on hand, add diced or shredded rotisserie chicken in with the black beans and green chile. Omit step 1.
Tortilla chips are a quick substitute for baked tortilla strips, but keep in mind they're likely higher in fat and calories.
We think so. Add the tortilla strips and other garnishes to each bowl just prior to serving. Reheat the soup at a later date, adding fresh garnishes.
I keep it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 5 days, and in the freezer for up to 2 months. Do not store with garnishes.
If it's "soup season" in your area, you will want to give this chicken tortilla soup recipe a try. I'll be waiting for a nice, cool day in south Texas to make it again!
Panera Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 16 ounces boneless chicken breast cut in cubes
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups chicken broth +/-
- 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground red chile powder or to taste
- 1 can tomatoes with their juice
- ½ cup green chile chopped
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Brown the chicken in a heavy soup pot with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove from pot.
- To the same pot, add a drizzle of olive oil (if pan is dry) over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion. Sauté about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ground cumin, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Add broth, chicken, Mexican oregano, red chile powder, and tomatoes. Simmer 5 minutes before adding the green chile, corn, and black beans. Simmer an additional 10 minutes covered. While the soup simmers, prepare the garnishes.
- Ladle the chicken tortilla soup into bowls. Garnish with prepared tortilla strips, lime wedges, cheese, and chopped cilantro as desired.
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.