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!
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.