This smoky, flavorful Southwest Chicken Soup captures everything you love about the Chili’s original in just 30 minutes at home. It’s a one-pot dinner that uses big flavors like smoked paprika, cumin, green chiles, and lime to create a rich, brothy soup full of tender chicken and hominy. The whole family will love tucking into a bowl of this Chili’s copycat recipe and you won’t have to leave home to do it!
Chili’s Southwest Chicken Soup – The EASY Way!
Dining out is always a treat, but it’s also really fun when I can recreate one of our favorite restaurant dishes at home. My family gets a meal I know they love, and they can have all the second helpings they want.
This easy Southwest Chicken Soup is a delicious Chili’s Southwest Chicken Soup copycat recipe that makes 12 portions for way cheaper than eating out in less time it’d take you to drive there and order!
But the most important thing of course is that it’s TASTY and EASY! It has everything you’ll want, from the smoky broth, the tender hominy and chicken right down to the crisp tortillas on top. Plus it only takes 30 minutes from start to finish so you can enjoy it right at home without having to wrangle the kids out the door to dinner.
Why I LOVE this recipe!
- Amazing Flavor – Chiles, tomatoes, and spices recreate that smoky, rich flavor that the Chili’s original is so well-loved for.
- 30 Minute, One-pot Meal – 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes of cooking, and all the magic happens right in your soup pot so you aren’t left with tons of clean up afterward!
- 3 Easy Steps! – My homemade version of Chili’s southwest chicken soup uses what might seem like a lot of ingredients, but I promise it’s easy! Prepping and cooking only takes a few really simple steps.
- Makes a HUGE batch – This is the PERFECT recipe for feeding a hungry family, or for serving at potlucks and parties. It’ll feed up to a dozen, depending on serving size.
- Stores Well – If you don’t happen to have 12 mouths to feed, don’t worry! This soup stores extremely well in the fridge and freezer. We frequently have seconds so we don’t end up with too much leftover regardless.
- Copycat– Perfect for when you want the flavors of a favorite restaurant without leaving the house. If you love copycat recipes make sure and try our Olive Garden Chicken Fritta too!
What to Serve with Southwest Chicken Soup
Since this Chili’s copycat recipe has the classic flavors of the southwest, it will pair well with many of your favorite southern or Mexican side dishes. There are both classic options and some healthy options to keep it light.
Side Dish Ideas for soup
- Mexican Cornbread – This easy recipe uses green chiles to add a little extra kick to a soft, delicious cornbread. It’s the perfect side for a hearty bowl of soup.
- Side salad with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing– This dressing will make you LOVE salad and it goes perfectly as a side to the soup.
- Southern Squash Casserole – The layers of flavor and textures from cheese, pecans, and squash and make this casserole a great dish to have with a brothy soup.
- Garlic Parmesan Green Bean Casserole – This is another hearty, creamy casserole that can help make a soup a complete dinner.
- Green Chile Cheddar Mashed Potatoes – Who doesn’t love cheesy mashed potatoes!? These have green chiles which will compliment the smoky, southwest flavors of this recipe.
- Baked Potatoes – Not only are they hearty, filling, and easy, but you can top them with southwest flavor too. Try a chili topped potato, or add pico de gallo, guacamole, tortilla, and cilantro.
- Mexican Roasted Vegetables – If you want to keep it healthy, roast a sheet or two of these Mexican inspired veggies.
- Corn Casserole – Any of the corn casseroles on my site would be a great side dish! Try my Jiffy casserole, my easy crock pot corn casserole, or go with my Mexican street corn casserole.
You can choose one or add a few sides to make a wholesome, well rounded dinner.
This Chili’s southwest chicken soup recipe is as simple as promised! Just 30 minutes and one pot for a family friendly meal.
In this section I am going to go through a few tips and tricks I use when making this recipe to get the absolute best and most delicious results.
Make sure to scroll to the bottom for the FULL recipe card.
Ingredients + Substitutions
- Oil – Any neutral flavored cooking oil will work. I used vegetable but feel free to choose canola, olive, or grapeseed oil.
- Garlic & Onion – I recommend fresh for both of these, and a white onion if you can. Yellow is a great substitute if not.
- Spices – A combination of cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder is key in creating that smoky southwest flavor in the soup. Paprika can be sold in many forms, so make sure you get the one labeled ‘smoked’ for this recipe.
- Chicken – Any form of shredded chicken will work as long as it’s mildly flavored, or seasoned with complimentary spices. You can cook chicken for this recipe by boiling, baking, or grilling it fresh. Or, simply shred up leftover chicken to add to the soup while it simmers. I prefer a blend of light and dark meat so I use and recommend rotisserie chickens as an easy option.
- Tomato sauce – A pureed style of tomato sauce is perfect, just make sure you don’t grab one with Italian seasonings.
- Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles – You can use Rotel (my go-to!) or any brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles that you like. There are different options that will work just fine, like hot or fire-roasted, but I use original Rotel for this.
- Hominy – Hominy is a key ingredient used in Chili’s southwest chicken soup, and it’s fairly easy to find at most supermarkets. Check the ethnic or Mexican food aisle where you’ll find it canned. If you can’t find it, chickpeas or garbanzo beans make a good alternative for the texture and flavor.
- Chicken Broth – I used chicken broth for this, but stock would also work well.
- Tortilla Chips – These are actually needed for thickening the soup, so make sure you use plain, salted ones.
- Lime – You want the juice on an entire lime, which is about 2 tablespoons. If you can’t find or use a fresh lime, the bottled juice will work in a pinch.
- Salt – How much you use will depend on the salt content of you chips and your personal taste. About 1 teaspoon should be the most you need.
- Hot Sauce – This is totally optional! It’s a great addition if you want to add a little heat to your southwest chicken tortilla soup.
- Toppings – Traditionally the soup is topped with crispy tortilla strips and freshly chopped cilantro. I was able to find prepared tortilla strips near the salad dressings and croutons at my grocery store. You can also slice a tortilla and fry your own, or simple crush some tortilla chips over the top.
- Finely dice the onion– I recommend a finer chop on your onion so you don’t get big bites of it later on. You can use your knife and a cutting board, or pop it into a food processor or chopper and pulse until it’s finely diced. The garlic can go right in with it!
- Adjust the thickness how you like it – The addition of the tortilla chips creates that thick, richness like Chili’s southwest chicken soup. They also adds a really yummy corn flavor.
The chips will completely disintegrate and you won’t even realize they’re there, but feel free to adjust it to your liking. You can add a few more chips if you want it to be thicker. Or, you can reduce the amount or leave them out entirely. Skipping them will create a thinner, more brothy soup.
- Salt SLOWLY – I recommend only adding salt at the end of the recipe, and only 1/4 teaspoon at a time. After each addition, stir and taste it. Different tortilla chips contain different levels of salt, and if you’re using seasoned, leftover chicken it can affect things too. Go slowly so you don’t end up with really salty soup.
- Make the garnish your own – I love the way the classic Chili’s southwest chicken soup is garnished. I keep it simple with tortilla strips and cilantro. But you can absolutely add your favorites! Shredded cheese, beans, a scoop of Mexican corn salad, avocado corn salsa, or pico de gallo are all great options.
Recipe Short Cuts
If you need to make this recipe, but are extra short on time, here are a few ideas that can help make this recipe even faster!
- Use Rotisserie Chicken– This recipe is a snap to put together if you use pre-cooked chicken options like rotisserie chicken. I use leftovers of my crock pot rotisserie chicken or oven baked rotisserie chicken recipe to shred into the soup.
- Make it Ahead– This soup reheats remarkably well, so if you know you have a busy night ahead, throw it together whenever you have 30 minutes. Then all that’s left is to reheat and garnish for dinner.
- Use your Crock Pot– If won’t actually be faster to cook in the Crock Pot, but it does make it hands off! Sauté the onions, garlic, and spices in a skillet first, then add it to your slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients. Cook it on low for 2-3 hours.
If you love this recipe as much as we do and want some quick ways to change it up for variety, these little tips will do the trick!
- Spicy Southwest Chicken Soup– Add between 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the spices and onions while cooking. Continue with the soup as directed, doubling or tripling the hot sauce to increase spice as well if desired.
- Southwest Chicken Bean Soup– Add in one can of drained and rinsed black or pinto beans with the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Follow the rest of the recipe as written.
- Southwest Chicken Soup with Rice– Make the recipe as directed but add in 1 cup of cooked white rice just before serving. Allow to warm, then garnish and serve.
Freezer Meal Instructions
Making this southwest chicken tortilla soup recipe into a freezer meal is simple! Follow the steps below and you can store this recipe in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Chop the onion and mix it with the spices in a freezer safe bag.
- Mix the tomatoes, hominy, chicken broth, and shredded, cooked chicken in another freezer safe container.
- When ready to cook, thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
- Begin preparing the recipe according to the recipe with fresh tortilla chips.
Southwest Chicken Soup Leftovers
If you have leftovers after making Chili’s southwest chicken soup, then it is your lucky day! They save and reheat well, and can make the start of another delicious dish.
To save leftovers, separate into meal sized portions and then place in an airtight container and store:
- in the refrigerator for 3-4 days
- in the freezer up to a month
More EASY Soup Recipes
If you enjoyed this recipe, I really hope you will take a moment to grab a few more easy recipes for another busy night!
You can check out all of my easy dinner recipes here, or see a few of our readers favorite recipes below.
- Rotisserie Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup
- Easy Crock Pot Broccoli Cheese Soup
- Instant Pot Cauliflower Soup
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large white onion, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 cups shredded chicken, or more
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 can white hominy
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 12 corn tortilla chips
- 1 lime, juice of
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- tortilla strips
- freshly chopped cilantro
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and paprika and sauté, stirring regularly until onion is translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the shredded chicken, tomato sauce, tomatoes with green chiles, and hominy and mix to combine. Then pour the chicken broth over the top, stir, and bring to a simmer.
- Add the tortilla chips and simmer for 15 minutes. While it simmers the chips will disintegrate and help to thicken the soup. Stir in salt 1/4 teaspoon at at time, tasting in between until seasoned to your preference.
- Serve warm garnished with your choice of tortilla strips and freshly chopped cilantro.