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Recently, I did a large catering gig and ended up with a few pounds of jerk rubbed chicken left over.  I froze up what I didn’t think I would use in the next few days cubed up, in single dinner portions (about 12 oz) and kept a bit in the fridge for this awesome soup.  So, you all can expect to see a few dishes using these extra bits of chicken over the next few weeks.  🙂

This soup completely fulfilled my snowy-day soup-tastic fantasy!  It is based off of a wildly popular soup from work.  Whenever our Sous Chef makes this one, the staff gobbles down a trash can-sized bucket of it in just a few days.  It’s spicy, filling, warm and comes with a smattering of fun toppings.  What more could a girl ask for?

This soup is quite versatile, depending on whether you’re going for convenience or low cost.  If you want to just whip this soup together in an hour, use canned beans and leftover or rotisserie chicken.   If you’re looking to save a buck, cook your beans from scratch. (Make sure to cook your beans separately!  I learned the hard way that beans will not cook through if they’re in a tomato sauce.  The acid from the tomatoes keeps the beans from getting soft in the middle.)  Also, you can start from raw chicken and poach it to make both the cooked chicken and the stock in one step.  Another budget tip that I use, mostly just for the blog, is to write the prices on the packages of dry goods, so that I’ll know the cost of my dishes when I use the ingredients later; writing something down also helps me to remember a good price point for my pantry staples.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Serves 4-6 – cost approx $1.11 per serving


  • 2 Tbs bacon grease or vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, medium dice ($.17)
  • 2 carrots, 1/4 inch sliced – spoon size pieces ($.23)
  • 3 ribs celery, 1/4 inch sliced – spoon size pieces ($.21)
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly slicced
  • 2 Jalapenos, minced
  • salt – to taste
  • 3 oz tomato paste – that’s half of a small can ($.25)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • cayenne – to taste
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dry  oregano
  • 1 lb cooked chicken, cubed or shredded ($1)
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans, cooked ($.40)
  • 1 cup kidney beans, cooked – one small can ($.79)
  • 1 10 oz can Rotel stewed tomatoes and chiles ($.79)
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley ($.25)

Heat the bacon grease or vegetable oil in a large pot.  Saute all the vegetables for about 5 minutes, add a generous pinch of salt.  Next, add in the tomato paste, garlic salt, chili powder, paprika, cumin and cayenne and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Add in the bay leaves, oregano and chicken and simmer for 30 minutes.  Last, add in the two types of beans, tomatoes and parsley and simmer for 10 minutes.  So simple, so good.

My fireman loves to take soup for lunch in his thermos!


  • 1 cup shredded cheese ($.56)
  • 2 cups tortilla strips – I tossed sliced corn tortillas in veg oil and baked at 375 F until crispy then sprinkled with salt ($.20)
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced ($.25)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced ($.20)