Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup
This Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup is a great way to use Thanksgiving leftovers and can be made with shredded chicken or leftover turkey, canned or fresh pumpkin puree, and other veggies you have on hand after the big feast! It’s naturally gluten-free, and finished off with plenty of delicious toppings!
Hey there friends! 👋
If you’re looking for a way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey and roasted pumpkin, you’re going to want to bookmark this Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup. I have been happily inhaling it over the last few weeks and can’t get enough of it!!
But even if you don’t have leftover turkey, you can still make this soup anytime of the year with a few minor tweaks (i.e. use chicken breasts like the way I have here or leftover shredded chicken, and canned pumpkin puree instead of fresh).
This Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup is a riff on my Spicy Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup. They’re both ridiculously easy to make, and super yummy and comforting!
By easy, I mean all you have to do is sauté a few veggies, garlic, and fresh chilies. Then dump in the chicken and almost everything else (aka a bunch of canned and pantry ingredients). Then off you go do something else while it all simmers and makes your kitchen smell wonderful!
Then when you come back, shred the chicken (or add in leftover shredded turkey), and add some rice to bulk up the soup. Once everything has warmed through, serve up the soup in bowls with TOPPINGS GALORE!! 😍
I like to top my bowls with grated cheese, homemade crispy tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, diced avocado, chopped coriander (cilantro), and squeeze some fresh lime juice over everything. And then I go to my happy place and enter spicy-cozy-soup-slurping-mode! 🤤
Why This Recipe Works
- It’s great for finishing up Thanksgiving leftovers. You can use leftover shredded turkey instead of chicken breasts, and puree any leftover roasted pumpkin to make pumpkin puree to add to the soup instead of using canned pumpkin puree.
- It’s great for meal prep, and you’ll get several delicious and nourishing bowls of soup from this recipe!
- Homemade crispy tortilla strips are easy to make, and taste fantastic as a garnish for the soup. In fact, I think you may find it hard not to finish all of them before you get to the soup!
- Adding rice to the soup bulks it up and makes it a hearty and filling meal.
- It’s naturally gluten-free, and can easily be made vegetarian or vegan.
- It’s a one pot meal that’s made with mostly pantry ingredients and leftovers. You don’t have to go out to buy or order any special ingredients!
Gather those leftovers, get out your stockpot, and let’s make some soup!
- Chicken Breasts: I used boneless and skinless chicken breasts for this recipe. But you’re welcome to use leftover shredded turkey from a holiday dinner, or even shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut.
- Veggies: I kept it simple and used red onion and tri-color sweet peppers. But you could use white or yellow onion, and bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, etc.) of your choice. Feel free to also add in any other leftover veggies you have hanging around such as (uncooked) diced carrots, green beans, celery, etc.
- Green & Red Chilies: I love the extra kick of heat that fresh chilies add to soup and threw in plenty of red and green Bird’s eye chilies! But any hot chilies you can get in your area will work. If you’re not big on heat, you can use less chilies, deseed them, or omit them entirely.
- Chipotle Peppers and Adobo Sauce: I use canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. The chipotle peppers add a smoky hot flavor to the soup, while the adobo sauce – which is made out of tomato and vinegar – adds some tasty zesty flavors. Use one chipotle pepper only (instead of two) and deseed it if less heat is desired. If you don’t have a can on hand, you can simply omit it and just use more fresh chilies.
- Sweet Corn Kernels: I normally buy fresh corn and slice the kernels off the ears, then freeze them in Ziplock bags so that they’re ready to go whenever I need them for a recipe. But you can use either store-bought frozen corn, or even fresh sweet corn kernels.
- Oil: I used olive oil, but you can use any other cooking oil you prefer.
- Pumpkin Puree: I used canned pumpkin puree. But if you have some leftover roasted pumpkin (or butternut squash), you can puree it in a high-speed blender to add to the soup.
- Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes: I love the extra smoky flavor this delivers to the soup.
- Canned Chopped Tomatoes: I used Waitrose’s Rich & Savory chopped Italian tomatoes with olive oil and garlic. But any type of canned chopped/diced tomatoes that you have in your pantry will work.
- Cooking/Single Cream: This gives the soup a smooth and velvety texture. But the soup tastes great with or without it, so you can skip it if you prefer.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Sauté the fresh veggies and aromatics. In a bit of oil in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Then add all the spices and seasonings and sauté for a minute or so until fragrant.
- Add the chicken breasts and build the soup. Stir in the pumpkin puree, canned chopped tomatoes, fire roasted crushed tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, black beans, low sodium chicken broth, water, cooking cream, and tomato paste. Then lower the heat and cover the pot. Simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through.
- Stir the lime juice, rice, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, and coriander.
- Shred the chicken. With two forks on a cutting board, while stirring the soup occasionally so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. (Note: If you’re using leftover shredded turkey or rotisserie chicken, add it into the pot now. Simmer until the rice has cooked and the meat has warmed through, then switch off the heat. Skip the next step.)
- Add the chicken back in. Stir to combine and simmer for a few more minutes, or until the rice has cooked through. Then switch off the heat.
- Serve! Ladle the soup into bowls and top with chopped coriander, freshly grated cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, lime wedges for squeezing, and homemade crispy tortilla strips (instructions on how to make them in the recipe card below!), store-bought crushed tortilla chips, or any other toppings you like. Then enjoy!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Use leftover roasted potatoes instead of rice. If you have leftover roasted potatoes, you can add them to the soup instead of rice towards the end. Just simmer them in the soup until heated through then switch off the heat.
- Serve with freshly grated cheese. Freshly grated cheese from a block is much better than the pre-shredded cheese in the bags because it melts more evenly and tastes fresher. It also doesn’t have any of the anti-caking agents and preservatives that the pre-shredded cheeses in the bags do.
- Make the crispy tortilla strips in advance to save time. They’ll stay fresh for 2-3 days. You can store them in a sealed airtight container until you’re ready to serve them with the soup.
More Warming Soups and Chowders
- Hearty Pumpkin Chicken Soup
- Spicy Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Creamy Tomato Basil Tortellini Soup
- Creamy Chicken Mushroom Rice Soup
- Tom Kha Gai (Coconut Milk Chicken Soup)
- Or browse the entire Soups & Chowders recipe collection.
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Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup
This Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup is a great way to use Thanksgiving leftovers and can be made with shredded chicken or leftover turkey, canned or fresh pumpkin puree, and other veggies you have on hand after the big feast!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Mexican-inspired
- Diet: Gluten Free
For the Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup:
- 2 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil you prefer)
- 1 medium Red Onion (or yellow or white onion) – diced
- 6–7 Garlic cloves – minced
- 2–3 Green Chilies (or 1 small Jalapeño pepper), to taste – deseeded if less heat is desired and finely chopped
- 6–12 Red Chilies, to taste – deseeded if less heat is desired and finely chopped
- 4 ounces Tri-color Sweet Peppers (I used a mix of yellow, orange, and red. Substitute with 1.5 diced bell peppers of your choice if unavailable.) – deseeded and diced
- 2 Chipotle Peppers + 2–3 TBLS Adobo Sauce – deseeded if less heat is desired and chopped
- 2 TBLS Coriander (Cilantro) – finely chopped
- 2 Chicken Breasts (about 400 grams / 14 ounces), boneless, skinless – cleaned and pat-dried (or use 2.5 cups leftover shredded cooked turkey)
- 2.5 TSP Kosher Salt (use half the amount if using table salt)
- 1.5 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper
- 1 TSP Garlic Powder
- 2 TSP ground Cumin
- 1 TSP dried Oregano Flakes
- 1.5 TSP Chili Powder, to taste
- 1 TSP Smoked Paprika (I used a hot one, but you can use a sweet one if you prefer)
- 1.5 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
- 1 (425 grams / 15-ounce) can Black Beans – drained and rinsed
- 1 (425 grams / 15-ounce) can Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling – see notes*)
- 1 (411 grams / 14.5-ounce) can Fire Roasted Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 (400 grams /14-ounce) can Chopped Tomatoes
- 1 cup Sweet Corn Kernels (frozen or fresh)
- 2 TBLS Tomato Paste
- 4 cups / 32 ounces Low Sodium Chicken Broth
- 1.5 cups Water
- 200ml Cooking/Single Cream
- Juice of 1–2 freshly squeezed Limes (about 2–3 tablespoons), to taste
- ½ cup uncooked Medium or Long Grain Rice – rinsed and drained
- To Serve/Optional toppings: chopped coriander, lime wedges for squeezing, freshly grated sharp cheddar or colby jack cheese, diced avocado, sour cream, homemade crispy tortilla strips or crushed store-bought tortilla chips, etc.
For the Tortilla Strips:
- 3–4 Flour Tortillas (or corn tortillas) – cut into thin ½-inch wide strips
- 3 TBLS Olive Oil (or any other cooking oil)
- Salt, to taste
- Prepare all the ingredients: Chop the onion, garlic, green and red chilies, sweet peppers, chipotle peppers, and coriander. Clean and pat-dry the chicken breasts (or shred leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken if using). Drain and rinse the black beans. Combine all of the spices and seasonings – the kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano flakes, chili powder, smoked paprika, and ground cayenne – in a small plate or bowl and set aside. Measure out the corn, chicken broth, water, and cooking cream. Squeeze the limes for fresh juice. Rinse the rice and drain, repeat twice.
For the Spicy Pumpkin Chicken Tortilla Soup:
- Sauté the fresh veggies and aromatics: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (or stockpot) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the red onion and sweet peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and green and red chilies, and all of the spices and seasonings. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the chicken and build the soup: Add the chicken breasts, pumpkin puree, canned chopped tomatoes, fire roasted crushed tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, black beans, low sodium chicken broth, water, cooking cream, and tomato paste. Lower the heat to medium and give everything a good stir. Cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes, or until the chicken has cooked through. (Note: Time for simmering until the chicken has cooked through will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts. You can check after 25 minutes to see if the chicken is done by piercing it with a sharp knife. If the juices run clear and the chicken is no longer pink on the inside, it’s done. If not, simmer for a few more minutes.)
- Shred the chicken: Once the chicken has cooked through, use tongs to transfer the breasts to a cutting board. Stir the freshly squeezed lime juice, rice, and chipotle peppers and adobo sauce, and chopped coriander into the soup. Then shred the chicken with two forks, while stirring the soup occasionally to ensure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. (Note: If using leftover shredded turkey or rotisserie chicken, add it into the soup now. Simmer until the rice has cooked and the meat has warmed through – about 10 minutes, then switch off the heat. Skip the next step.)
- Add the chicken back in: Transfer the chicken back into the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the rice has cooked through, then switch off the heat.
- To Serve: Ladle the soup into bowls and top with any of the optional toppings. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing if desired and enjoy!
For the Tortilla Strips:
- Fry tortilla strips: Cut the tortillas into thin half-inch wide strips using a knife. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small shallow pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the tortilla strips in a single layer and fry until golden crisp on both sides – about 2-3 minutes. Transfer the strips to a paper towel lined plate to drain and season with salt to taste. Store in a sealed airtight container. (Note: The tortilla strips can be made 2-3 days in advance, but will taste best on the day of frying them.)
Ingredient Notes, Cook’s Tips, and FAQs
- Nutritional information is only for the soup, not any additional toppings or the tortilla strips.
- Chicken or turkey: You can use leftover shredded turkey from a holiday dinner, or even shredded store-bought rotisserie chicken for a shortcut instead of boneless and skinless chicken breasts. You’ll need about 2.5 cups of shredded meat. See instructions above for when to add in the cooked shredded meat.
- Pumpkin puree: If you have some leftover roasted pumpkin (or butternut squash), you can puree it in a high-speed blender to add to the soup. You’ll need about 1 & ¾ cups of pureed pumpkin.
- Veggies: Feel free to add in any other leftover veggies you have hanging around such as uncooked diced carrots, green beans, celery, etc. Sauté them in step 1 when sautéing the other veggies and aromatics. You can also add in leftover roasted potatoes instead of rice in step 3. Simmer them in the soup until heated through then switch off the heat.
- Can I make this vegetarian or vegan? Omit the chicken and use a veggie broth to make it vegetarian. If making it vegan, also use a vegan cooking cream. Alternatively, omit the cream all together – it’ll still taste delicious without it!
- How long will it keep? It’ll keep for 3-4 days in sealed airtight containers in the refrigerator. Reheat either in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once in between, or for a few minutes in a pot on the stovetop until heated through. If reheating on the stovetop and the soup gets a little too thick, add a little water or chicken broth at a time until the thickness is to your desired consistency.
- Can I freeze the soup? After the soup has fully cooled, transfer to freezer friendly containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight, then let it sit on the counter for 2-3 hours on the day you plan to eat it. Reheat either in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring once in between, or for a few minutes in a pot on the stovetop until heated through.
Shop the Recipe
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 363
- Sugar: 12.2g
- Sodium: 948.3mg
- Fat: 11.2g
- Saturated Fat: 4.3g
- Unsaturated Fat: 4.2g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 44.8g
- Fiber: 9.7g
- Protein: 19.9g
- Cholesterol: 38mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.
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This post may contain affiliate links. We are a part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary based on several factors. It should only be used as a general guideline. For more information, please see our Disclosure.