Easy Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

published Aug 7, 2022
Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

The classic Mexican chicken soup with plenty of colorful topping options to choose from.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 2 quarts

Prep10 minutes

Cook25 minutes

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Credit: Kelli Foster

One of my very favorite soups is chicken tortilla soup. I love that it’s full of spices and loaded with chicken, black beans, and corn, making it hearty without the need for cream. But my favorite part of chicken tortilla soup is that it gets brightened up with lots of toppings to make each bite different and fun.

Achieving a deep and flavorful stock can take a lot of simmering time, but with the help of an Instant Pot, the cook time drops down to less than 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight-friendly meal.

How Do You Make Tortilla Soup in the Instant Pot?

  • Sear chicken thighs on one side. Start by searing just one side of each boneless, skinless chicken thigh in the Instant Pot with the sauté function. This coaxes out some deeper flavors from the browned chicken. Only searing one side saves time and keeps the chicken from getting too stringy.
  • Sauté the aromatics and spices. Sauté onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano together until the onion is tender.
  • Deglaze the pressure cooker. Add chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom to loosen them.
  • Pressure-cook with the tomatoes. Return the chicken to the pot and add a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (fire-roasted if you want an extra punch of flavor). Pressure-cook on high for 10 minutes. This is a good time to make the optional tortilla chips.
  • Blend the soup base. Take the chicken out and blend the soup until smooth; you can use an immersion blender right in the cooker or transfer it to a regular blender.
  • Add in the beans and corn. Stir the shredded chicken, a can of drained black beans, and frozen corn kernels into the soup and reheat if needed.
Credit: Kelli Foster

Can You Put Frozen Chicken in an Instant Pot?

Yes, you can definitely put frozen chicken in an Instant Pot. (Meghan Splawn developed a super-helpful guide to cooking chicken breasts — even frozen! — in an Instant Pot.) For this chicken tortilla soup, I would skip the browning step and just put the chicken in with the canned tomatoes instead. The final soup will be slightly less deep in flavor because the chicken isn’t browned, but will still be tasty. Also note that the pressure cooker will take longer to come up to pressure.

What to Serve with Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve always found that chicken tortilla soup is a meal in itself as long as there are lots of toppings to choose from. If you have the time, make the tortilla chips from scratch. I’ve included instructions for deep frying them on the stovetop or baking them in an air fryer or regular oven, but you can also just purchase tortilla chips instead for a shortcut.

My other favorite toppings are cilantro, shredded cheese, diced avocado, and scallions. If you want a creamy element, you can also top each bowl with a spoonful of sour cream, but I prefer to keep my soup nice and tomato-y. Leftover soup makes a great lunch, and you can always freeze the soup for a quick future meal.

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

The classic Mexican chicken soup with plenty of colorful topping options to choose from.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes

Makes about 2 quarts

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive or vegetable oil

  • About 1 pound

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3 to 4)

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon

    chili powder

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 3 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can

    diced tomatoes with green chiles or fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles

  • 1 (about 15-ounce) can

    black beans

  • 1 1/4 cups

    frozen corn kernels

  • Topping options: fresh cilantro leaves, shredded Monterey or colby jack cheese, diced avocado, lime wedges, thinly sliced scallions

For the tortilla chips (optional):

  • 3

    (about 6-inch) corn tortillas

  • 1 1/2 cups

    vegetable oil (if deep frying) or cooking spray (if air frying or baking)

  • Kosher salt

Instructions

Make the soup:

  1. Dice 1 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups). Coarsely chop 4 garlic cloves (about 1 tablespoon).

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil in a 4-quart or larger Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker with the Sauté function until shimmering. Meanwhile, pat about 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs dry with paper towels, then season with 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

  3. Add the chicken to the pot and sear until well-browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the onion to the pot and cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Turn the cooker off.

  4. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the cooker. Add 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles and their juices and stir to combine. Lock the lid in place and make sure the valve is set to seal. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes (it will take about 11 minutes to come up to pressure). Meanwhile, drain and rinse 1 (about 15-ounce) can black beans. (This is a good time to make the chips.)

  5. When the cook time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. Blend the soup until smooth with an immersion blender directly in the cooker. (Alternatively, transfer to a stand blender, blend until smooth, and return to the pot.)

  6. Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and return to the soup. Add the black beans and 1 1/4 cups frozen corn kernels and use the Sauté setting to bring back to a simmer. Taste and season with more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. Serve with the tortilla chips and desired toppings.

Make the chips:

  1. Option 1: Deep fry. Stack 3 corn tortillas and cut in half. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until 375ºF. Fry the tortilla strips in 3 batches: Add to the hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown all over, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer to the paper towels and season lightly with kosher salt.

  2. Option 2: Air fry. Heat an air fryer to 375ºF. Lightly coat 3 corn tortillas on both sides with cooking spray and season lightly with kosher salt. Stack the tortillas and cut in half. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch wide strips. Working in batches if needed, place in the air fryer basket in a single layer and air fry until light golden brown and crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Non-spicy soup: For a non-spicy soup, use regular diced tomatoes instead of tomatoes with green chiles.

Make ahead: The soup and chips can be made up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate the soup in an airtight container, and store the chips in an airtight container at room temperature.

Storage: Leftover soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw the soup overnight before reheating. The chips can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.