Check out this Chicken Tortilla Soup, Instant Pot style! So quick, the entire thing from the homemade tortilla chips to the soup can be made in the Instant Pot!
Recipe first published in February 2010. Last updated on September 23, 2022.
Rich and savory, this simple Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup gets its flavor from a rich chile broth made from charred onions, garlic, tomatoes, and dried guajillo and ancho chiles. The best part? Almost the entire thing from the homemade tortilla chips to the soup can be made in the Instant Pot!
Three different components make up this deceivingly complex Mexican staple. The first is (no mystery here) the soup—a rich mixture of tender chicken, tender vegetables and a rich broth.
The second is a spicy, dried chile sauce that is as essential to Mexican cooking as béchamel is to French cuisine.
Once you have mastered this sauce you will find endless uses for it. I cover my tortillas in it before filling them with meat and rolling them into enchiladas and dunk my tamales in it before inhaling them at rapid speed.
The third is the tortilla chips. Now you could buy tortilla chips and be perfectly happy, but why would you go to all the trouble of making this rich, complex soup to top it with crushed store-bought chips?
I like to follow the rule of thumb that I can eat all the junk food I want as long as I make it myself, so for those of you who want to fry up (or in this case, air fry up) your own tortilla chips, the recipe follows.
Ingredients To Make This Chicken Tortilla Soup
Feel free to leave the Mexican crema and cheese off the garnish list to make this recipe dairy-free!
- White onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- Dried Guajillo chiles
- Dried ancho chiles
- Ground coriander
- Ground cumin
- Dried oregano
- Kosher salt
- Corn tortillas
- Cooking spray
- Olive oil
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Ground black pepper
- Chicken broth
- Bay leaf
- Limes for squeezing lime juice over the top
- Mexican crema or sour cream, for garnish
- Crumbled Cotija or your favorite melty shredded cheese
how to make instant pot chicken tortilla soup
The beauty of this recipe is you can make everything (well, almost everything) in the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer. If you don’t have the Instant Pot model with the air fryer settings you won’t be able to air fry the tortilla chips, but you will be able to make almost everything else in the Instant Pot.
Char the vegetables. These first three steps are the only ones you don’t do in the Instant Pot. Start by charring vegetables and dried chiles on a comal or large frying pan over high heat on the stove. Watch closely and turn frequently. As the vegetables get blackened on the outside, transfer to a blender. As the dried chiles become toasted and fragrant, transfer to a small pot of very hot water.
Soak the chiles. Soak the dried chiles in the hot water until they are soft and pliable, this can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on how fresh your chiles are.
Blend the sauce. Combine the chiles and vegetables along with the cilantro, and a teaspoon each of coriander, cumin, oregano, salt and a ladleful of the liquid the chiles were soaking in all together to a smooth puree in a blender.
Air fry the tortillas. Okay, now we start using the Instant Pot/Air Fryer. Like I mentioned above, if you don’t have the Instant Pot with the Air Fryer function, you are going to skip this step and either make tortilla chips the old fashioned way in oil on the stove, bake them in the oven, or use store bought.
To air fry them: Spray the tortilla wedges or tortilla strips (however you’d like to cut them) with cooking spray so they are thoroughly coated and season with salt. Place in the air fryer basket, cover with the air fryer lid and set to 350°F for 5 minutes. Stir and fry for another 3 minutes. Stir one more time and fry for the last 3 minutes. Remove the air fryer basket and let cool.
Brown the chicken. Using the Instant Pot insert, select the “Sauté function” and set on Hi. Let heat for a minute then add oil. Once the oil is hot add the carrots, onion, and chicken. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until starting to brown.
Fry the sauce. Pour in the sauce and stir around, letting it fry a bit in the oil that’s in the bottom of the pot.
Cook the soup. Add the broth and bay leaf and seal with the pressure cooker lid. Switch to “Pressure Cook” mode and set on high pressure for 10 minutes.
Release the pressure. Let the pressure release naturally for at least 5 minutes before doing the quick release or you can let it naturally release until you are ready to serve.
Serve. Ladle into bowls and serve with your favorite garnishes (I like the ones listed above) and the crispy tortilla strips.
What To Serve With Chicken Tortilla Soup
Incredibly delicious and satisfying on its own, but I get it if you want to make the meal a bit more special with a few things on the side. Here’s how I’d round it out:
- Dunking Homemade Flour Tortillas in the broth is an obvious choice
- Finish the meal with a sweet treat of Authentic Tres Leches Cake
- An icy Paloma would cut through the spices
- For a special occasion you could make a batch of Bean and Cheese Tamales to go with
What Makes This The Best?
- Super versatile. Fresh tomatoes are garbage? Use canned diced tomato instead. Kids love frozen corn kernels? Great, add them! Have some canned green chiles? Wonderful. I really want you to make this your own.
- An excellent freezer meal. Let cool completely then transfer to an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- I like the bite-sized cubes of chicken, I think they’re easier to eat. If you want to shred the chicken instead, leave in whole breasts (or thighs). Once cooked, transfer to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken back to the pot.
more instant pot recipes to try!
- Instant Pot Pork Tinga (the cook time for this one is cut in half!)
- Instant Pot Chicken Carnitas with Peach Salsa (super healthy and tastes incredible)
- The Best Crispy Instant Pot Pork Carnitas (richly spiced with chili powder, cumin, and orange zest)
- Instant Pot Pork Chili Verde with Cheese (bite-sized pieces of tender pork in a tangy stew)
- Instant Pot Beef and Chipotle Chili (a stellar Instant Pot soup recipe)
did you make it?
If so, I hope you loved this Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe as much as we do. Please let me know if you make it by snapping a pic and tag me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating)!
- 2 ripe tomatoes, cored
- 2 medium white onions (1 quartered and 1 chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 4 dried guajillo chiles, seeded, stemmed, and rinsed
- 5 dried ancho chiles, seeded, stemmed, and rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 7 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
- cooking spray
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium carrots, large dice
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- ground black pepper
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 bay leaf
- avocado slices
- lime wedges
- chopped cilantro
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- Crumbled Cotija cheese
- Thinly sliced jalapeños
- Char the vegetables: Warm a comal or dry cast iron skillet over medium heat until it is hot to the touch. Place the tomatoes, the quartered onion, and the unpeeled garlic cloves in the warm comal and let cook, undisturbed until they are charred and blackened on one side, flip and continue until all the vegetables are charred on all sides. The garlic and tomatoes will char faster than the onions, so keep turning and remove the individual vegetables as they are done. Let the garlic cool a bit, then peel off the skin and place in a blender with the other charred vegetables. Next, add the dried chiles to the comal and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant and starting to brown.
- Soak chiles. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add toasted chiles and push them down to submerge them under the water. Remove pan from the heat and let chiles soak until they are soft, about 15 minutes.
- Blend the sauce. Remove the chiles from cooking liquid (saving the liquid) and place in blender with the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add the cilantro, ground coriander, ground cumin, dried oregano, teaspoon of salt, and 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. To prevent explosions, take the lid of the blender and remove the plastic circle in the middle. Place lid on blender and place a clean dish rag over the open hole. With one hand on top of the rag, slowly turn your blender to high and blend until a smooth sauce forms. Add more of the cooking liquid, if necessary.
- Air-fry the tortillas. Place the air fryer basket insert in the Instant Pot. Add the tortilla wedges, separating them into as much as possible. Spray for 4 seconds with cooking spray, stir and spray again for 4 seconds with cooking spray. Season with salt and spread as much as you can in the basket—it's okay if they are not in a single layer, you will stir them around later. Select the Air Fryer setting and set the temperature to 350°F. Cover with the Air Fryer lid and set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid to the protective pad—be careful the bottom of the lid will be hot— and give the chips a stir. Cover again with the lid and set the timer for 3 minutes. Stir once more, cover again and cook for another 3 minutes or until the chips are crispy. Using kitchen mitts or towels, carefully remove the air fryer basket and pour chips into a heat proof bowl to cool.
- Brown the chicken and vegetables. Using oven mitts or kitchen towels carefully remove the Instant Pot insert, rinse it out and dry. Return to the Instant Pot, select the saute setting and add olive oil. Let heat for a couple minutes then add the chopped onion, carrots, and chicken pieces. Season generously with salt and ground black pepper and let cook until starting to brown.
- Fry the sauce. Add the blended chile sauce and let fry, stirring continuously, until it is fragrant and turns a deep, reddish brown.
- Pressure cook the soup. Add chicken broth and bay leaf and cover with the pressure cooker lid. Select the pressure cooker setting and set the timer for 10 minutes on high. It will take the machine about 15 minutes to heat up and then the timer will begin.
- Release the pressure. Let the pressure slow release for at least 5 minutes before pushing the quick release button or you can let it slow release until you are ready to serve. Carefully remove lid and season again with salt (about a teaspoon or so more) taste and add more salt if needed.
- Serve. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with separate bowls of tortilla strips, avocado slices, lime wedges and cilantro so your friends can enhance their soup to their liking.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 237mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 22g
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