Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup has been a long-time favorite recipe here at CopyKat. Years ago this soup was made from scratch in a restaurant. In recent years, this soup is made in a large central kitchen and reheated in the restaurant.

copycat Chili's chicken enchilada soup garnished with green onions.

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Chicken Enchilada Soup at Chili’s Restaurant

One thing Chili’s is famous for is its hot and savory soups and, of course, chili. A very satisfying lunch at Chili’s is a bowl of delicious soup or chili and a colorful salad.

While the soup is still remarkably tasty in the restaurant, I think it misses the chunkiness and homemade flavor it used to have. My soup has more texture and is filled with more vegetables and meat than the restaurant equivalent. In other words, it’s better! If you have never had it, imagine your favorite enchilada flavor in a soup, I think this is one of the best things on their menu.

What Makes the Chilis Chicken Enchilada Soup So Good? 

This soup is packed full of enchilada flavor, you get the flavor of the corn from the tortillas, a bit of Cheddar cheese flavor, tender chicken, and delicious red enchilada sauce. Best of all it can be made with items found at your grocery store.

What is Chicken Enchilada Soup Made Of?

Here’s a list of ingredients you need to make this copycat Chili’s chicken enchilada soup recipe:

  • Vegetable oil – if you desire avocado oil or olive oil will work.
  • Chicken base – this packs much more flavor than bouillon cubes with less salt.
  • Yellow onions – Using yellow or a white onion work equally as well. I just what I have on hand.
  • Ground cumin – this gives your soup a depth of flavor.
  • Chili powder – this is the backbone of a rich red enchilada sauce
  • Granulated garlic – if you have fresh garlic, use this instead. You can swap it for equal amounts.
  • Cayenne pepper – this will give you a bit of heat, but not too much
  • Salt – this brings out the flavor of your soup
  • Masa harina – you can swap this for crushed corn chips
  • Water
  • Crushed tomatoes – this gives your soup flavor
  • Processed American cheese -this cheese melts beautifully, use the kind you buy at the deli. I do not recommend Velveeta cheese.
  • Diced cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken – if you desire, you could make this with chicken thighs, or your favorite cut of chicken
Chili's chicken enchilada soup ingredients on a tray.

Substitutions and Additions

Here are a few ways to change up the recipe:

  • If you want, a large can or two of chicken breast chunks works great.
  • Instead of granulated garlic, you can also use fresh, crushed garlic. About 1 to 2 teaspoons.
  • If you like, you can add some green and red bell peppers.
  • If you want your soup to be a bit saltier, keep in mind that the cheese in the recipe is very salty, so prepare the soup as is then add salt to taste.

What Cheese to Use?

I use processed American cheese in this recipe. I believe this is an underrated cheese because it melts so well and has a pronounced cheese flavor. I do not recommend using Velveeta for this because I think the flavor of Velveeta can take over in the soup.

Store-brand American cheese works extremely well. Normally you might buy processed American cheese in slices, but you can also buy it in a chunk at the deli counter in most grocery stores. This saves you from having to unwrap multiple pieces of cheese.

What is Masa Harina?

Masa harina is traditionally used to make tamales, tortillas, and other Mexican dishes. It means “dough flour” in Spanish because it’s made from dried masa, a dough produced from specially treated corn.

Masa harina is found in the baking aisle of most supermarkets or you can order masa harina from Amazon.

Do not try to substitute corn meal or regular corn flour. They’re produced from different types of corn, are processed differently, and will not produce the same results. You also can’t use regular wheat flour.

And, while it is possible to use tortilla chips or tortillas, they won’t break down like the masa harina. Anyway, masa harina is super cheap and easy to use.

What is Chicken Base?

The chicken base is a paste. I think the base is better than bouillon cubes because it has more flavor and less salt.

Read about the difference between chicken stock, chicken bouillon, and chicken soup base.

How to Make Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

It’s easy to make Chili’s chicken enchilada soup at home with this recipe.

  1. In a pitcher or large measuring cup, combine masa harina with water. Stir until all lumps dissolve.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine the oil, chicken base, onions, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, salt, and cayenne.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and translucent over medium heat.
cooking Chili's chicken enchilada soup.
  1. Add the masa mixture to the pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in more water and the tomatoes.
  4. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
  6. Add the chicken and heat through.
a bowl of copycat Chili's chicken enchilada soup.

Must-Know Tips for Copycat Chicken Enchilada Soup

  • Don’t have any masa harina on hand? Crush up some tortilla chips in a blender to substitute.
  • You must incorporate the masa harina into the water completely first. If you add the masa harina into the soup directly, it will be difficult to blend in and could be lumpy.
  • If you feel 2 cups masa harina is too much, I have made the soup with 1 1/2 cups with good results.

This soup is sure to please the hearty eaters in your family. This recipe makes a huge pot of soup, but it can be frozen and reheated later.

How to Thicken This Enchilada Soup Recipe

If your soup is a little bit on the watery side, there’s an easy solution. Just increase the amount of masa harina. Masa harina, also known as masa flour, is flint corn soaked in a slacked lime solution and then ground into flour. People have used it for hundreds of years as a thickener.

There are two ways to thicken the soup using masa harina. You can either add more masa harina to the water from the start or add it in later.

If you decide to add more harina masa after cooking the soup, don’t just sprinkle masa harina directly into the soup. It will cause lumps.

Instead, simmer about 2 cups of chicken stock in a separate pot and whisk in masa harina until it slightly thickens. Continue to cook the masa harina for an additional minute and then stir it into the rest of the soup. 

The Best Toppings for Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe

This enchilada soup recipe is ideal for customizing with your favorite taco toppings. Some of the most popular options are:

  • Tortilla strips
  • Sour cream
  • Sliced green onions
  • Diced red onion
  • Pico de gallo
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Queso fresco
  • Salsa
  • A few dashes of your favorite hot sauce

What to Serve with Chili’s Enchilada Soup

This is a pretty hearty soup, and if you load your bowl up on toppings, it can easily be a light meal. But if you’re really hungry or throwing a South-of-the-border party, you can serve the soup with one or more of these great recipes:

Make Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup Recipe in the Slow Cooker

Coming home to soup simmering away in the slow cooker is just about the best welcome after a long, cold day outside. Start cooking this soup before you go out, and when you get back, it will only take a couple of minutes to finish:

  1. Mix the harina masa with a quart of water. 
  2. Saute the onions in a pan on the stove. When the onions are translucent, pour in the prepared harina masa and simmer for two minutes. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the chicken base, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, salt, tomatoes, water, and cayenne pepper. Give everything a good stir.
  4. Cook for 6 to 8 hours on the LOW setting or four hours on the HIGH setting.
  5. When the time is up, stir in the cheese and chicken. Heat until the chicken is warm and the cheese melts. 

How to Store, Freeze, and Reheat Chicken Enchilada Soup

This Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup recipe freezes beautifully and may even taste better after reheating.

If you have any leftovers that you plan to eat in the next few days, you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container. Just make you keep the soup in a container with a tight-fitting lid, and you finish it within three days.

To store the soup longer, you can freeze it in freezer bags. It is a good idea to divide the soup into individual portions to make it easier to reheat.

Thaw the soup before reheating it on the stovetop for the best results. The best way to thaw soup is overnight in the fridge, but you can do it in the microwave if you are in a rush. To thaw in the microwave, heat on LOW for two-minute intervals until the soup melts enough to pour. To reheat on the stove top reheat on low heat stirring frequently until the soup has warmed through.

Chicken Enchilada Soup (Chili’s) Nutrition

How Many Calories in Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup?

According to Chili’s nutritional menu, as served in the restaurant, a bowl of Chicken Enchilada Soup has 410 calories, 230 from fat. The smaller cup has 200 calories, and 120 are from fat. 

How Many Carbs Are in Chicken Enchilada Soup?

As served, a bowl of Chicken Enchilada Soup has 24 carbs, and the smaller cup contains half as much according to Chili’s nutritional menu

overhead view of two bowls of copycat Chili's chicken enchilada soup.

Want more Chili’s recipes? Try these!

Favorite Soup Recipes

Check out more of my easy soup recipes and the best copycat recipes for casual dining restaurants here on CopyKat!

two bowls of chicken enchilada soup and two spoons.

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Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

You can make Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup at home with this recipe.
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 10
Calories 456kcal

Ingredients

  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup chicken base
  • 3 cups diced yellow onions
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 4 quarts water
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes
  • ½ pound processed American cheese cut in small cubes
  • 3 pounds diced cooked chicken (you can use 2 rotisserie chickens)

Instructions

  • In a pitcher or large measuring cup, combine the masa harina with 1 quart of the water. Stir until all lumps dissolve.
  • In a large pot, combine the oil, chicken base, onions, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, salt, and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add masa harina mixture to the onions and bring to a boil. Once it starts to bubble, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (This will eliminate any raw taste from the masa harina.)
  • Stir in the remaining 3 quarts of water and the tomatoes. Let the soup return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the cheese. Cook, stirring occasionally until the cheese melts.
  • Add the chicken and heat through.

Notes

  • Don’t have any masa harina on hand? Crush up some tortilla chips in a blender to substitute.
  • You must incorporate the masa harina into the water completely first. If you add the masa harina into the soup directly, it will be difficult to blend in and could be lumpy.
  • If you feel 2 cups of masa harina is too much, I have made the soup with 1 1/2 cups with good results.
  • You can use leftover rotisserie chicken in this recipe.

Nutrition

Calories: 456kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 109mg | Sodium: 654mg | Potassium: 827mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 575IU | Vitamin C: 9.7mg | Calcium: 319mg | Iron: 3.5mg

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