Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup is an all-time favorite at our house! This rich, delicious, spot-on copycat recipe is easy and economical to make, and takes just one pot and 30 minutes, stove to table.
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The other night, Mr B slipped his arm around me, leaned in and whispered, “It’s really beginning to get chilly these days. You can start sending soup with me in my lunch again.”
He’s right though: it’s soup season, and this spot-on copycat recipe for Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup is an all-time favorite at our house!
Easy and economical to make, this rich, thick, mildly spicy one-pot soup is easy to make and ready to serve in just 30 minutes.
Be sure to check the Ingredient Notes following the recipe card for tips and substitutions.
Recipe Updated November 16, 2020 (Originally published November 5, 2013)
Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup (Copycat Recipe)Print Recipe Pin Recipe
- (or Large, Heavy Stock Pot)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped; about 1 cup
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 15 ounces canned tomatoes
- 1 ½ cups mild enchilada sauce
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 8 ounces processed American Cheese cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 ½ ounces pepper-jack cheese about ½ cup
- 1 cup masa harina
- 2 cups cold water
- 8 ounces shredded or chopped roasted chicken about 2 cups
- 1 ½ cup frozen corn OPTIONAL; about 6 ounces (See Pan-Fried Corn in Ingredient Notes.)
- Heat Dutch oven or heavy soup to over medium heat. Add olive oil.Add chopped onion and sauté until it starts to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and sauté one minute more.
- Reduce heat to medium-low.To the sautéed onion mixture, add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, cumin, and chili powder.
- Simmer for 5 minutes.
- OPTIONAL: For a smoother soup, use an immersion blender to puree larger chunks, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- In a larger measuring cup, whisk together masa harina and water. It is important incorporate in the masa harina into the water completely before adding it to the soup mixture. Adding it without fully mixing it into the water can result in lumpy soup.
- Whisk masa mixture to soup, adding slowly and whisking thoroughly. Simmer soup an additional 5 minutes. If the soup is thicker than you would prefer, simply add a little extra chicken stock or water at this time.
- Add American and Jack cheeses, and stir until they have completely melted into the soup.
- Stir in chicken and (optional) corn.
- Simmer an additional minute more to get everything up to heat. Garnish with tortilla strips, grated cheese, cilantro, peppers, etc.
Enchilada Sauce: This recipe can be made with canned enchilada sauce; however, if you want to raise the bar a notch, make a batch of our easy to make Slow Cooker Enchilada Sauce. It’s absolutely the best, and brings an extra layer of flavor to any enchilada dish.
Chicken Stock: Like the enchilada sauce, you can used canned stock, but I prefer to use homemade: it’s just so easy to make, plus it freezes well, so you can always have some on hand. If you’ve never made homemade chicken stock, be sure check out our super-easy step-by-step tutorial.
Chicken: Enchilada soup is a great option for using up holiday leftover turkey! Just sub in chopped or shredded turkey for the chicken.
Pan-fried Corn: Corn isn’t part of the original recipe, but I almost always add it; I enjoy the slightly sweet bite and texture it adds to the soup. (It’s delicious in Chicken Pot Pie, too!)
To pan-fry frozen corn, simply heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter, and then add frozen corn to hot butter and pan-fry, stirring constantly, until corn begin to turn golden brown. (About 5-7 minutes.)
Canned Tomatoes: You can use any store-bought or home-canned tomatoes. Personally, I use S&W Petite-cut Tomatoes, Diced With Sweet Onion & Roasted Garlic. (These are my absolute favorite canned tomatoes for cooking!)
Processed American Cheese: I am not a big fan of processed food. Not only is it filled with ingredients I don’t like to put in my body, but it usually tastes like Box. However, after a lot of experimenting, I’ve come to accept that processed cheese has its place.
When I make this enchilada soup, I use original Velveeta, which I had found (after much trial and error) is the best thing to use to achieve the flavor and consistency we love so about the original Chili’s Enchilada Soup.
Masa Harina: Masa harina, the traditional flour used to make tortillas, tamales, and many other Mexican dishes, is the thickening agent in this enchilada soup. Masa harina is made from field corn, which is dried and treated with a mixture of lime and water, loosening the hulls and softening the corn. The soaked corn (i.e., hominy) is then washed and ground into a dough, called masa. In a final step, the masa is dried and powdered, and resulting powder is masa harina.
You can find masa harina in any Mercado, or in the Mexican foods aisle of your local grocery store.
PRO TIP: Masa harina is one of the secrets to making tender, crispy, no-grit Fried Green Tomatoes, too!
How to Make Chili’s Enchilada Soup Vegetarian-Friendly
Despite the “chicken” element in this enchilada soup, it really couldn’t be any easier to make it vegetarian-friendly.
- Substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock.
- Serve the soup in bowls, and offer warm shredded chicken on the side for those who want it.
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