Delicious Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe – A Must-Try

Indulge your senses in the symphony of robust flavors with our Southwestern Chicken Soup, a delightful homage to American regional cuisine. This heartwarming recipe is a tantalizing amalgamation of tender chicken, a medley of colorful vegetables, and earthy spices, each bite guaranteeing a taste of the Southwest. 

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Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Rich in protein and brimming with nutrients, it’s the quintessential comfort food that nourishes both body and soul. Rainy days or cool nights, our soup is the answer to your culinary quest. 

It beckons families to gather around the dining table, fostering moments of shared joy and creating memories of love and togetherness. 

This is not just a recipe – it’s a journey. Come, let’s voyage together into the culinary wonders of the Southwest. Don’t just feed; celebrate life with every spoonful of our Southwestern Chicken Soup. Bon voyage and Bon appétit!

What Is Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe?

Southwestern Chicken Soup is a hearty, nutrient-packed dish inspired by the flavors of the American Southwest. It blends succulent pieces of chicken with a colorful array of vegetables like corn, beans, and bell peppers. 

The soup gets its distinct kick from a medley of spices, including chili powder and cumin. Finished with a squeeze of lime and fresh cilantro, it perfectly balances savory, spicy, and tangy elements. This one-pot wonder is not just a meal but a vibrant culinary experience.

History Of Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe

Southwestern Chicken Soup’s roots lie in the melding of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican culinary traditions that typify the cuisine of the American Southwest. 

A hearty response to the region’s arid climate, this soup represents the area’s agricultural staples: corn, beans, and chili peppers, combined with the influence of Spanish cuisine by using chicken and spices like cumin. 

Over the years, this rustic, homely soup evolved into a popular comfort food, championing the Southwest’s rich cultural heritage. Its widespread appeal now transcends regional boundaries, warming bowls and hearts globally.

Interesting Facts About Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe

  • Southwestern Chicken Soup integrates ingredients essential to the “Three Sisters” method, a Native American agricultural practice that combines corn, beans, and squash.
  • The soup uses chili peppers, which are native to the Americas. Spanish explorers took them to Europe, where they became a worldwide culinary phenomenon.
  • Cumin, an essential spice, isn’t native to the Americas. It traveled via Spanish colonists who brought flavors from their Moorish-influenced cuisine.
  • The recipe often includes a squeeze of lime before serving, reflecting the Mexican culinary influence.
  • Though essentially a comfort food, it’s rich in proteins, fiber, and vitamins, making it a healthful choice.
  • Variations exist across regions, some including rice or replacing chicken with turkey or beef, showing its adaptability to personal tastes and local ingredients.

What Makes Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe Special? 

  • Cultural Melting Pot: The soup embodies a fusion of Native American, Spanish, and Mexican culinary influences, making it a symbol of the region’s rich multicultural history.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Packed with protein from chicken, fiber from beans, and vitamins from vegetables, it’s a nourishing choice as well as a comforting one.
  • Versatility: It’s adaptable to personal tastes and dietary needs. You can easily make it vegetarian, add rice for more heft, or change the protein.
  • Flavor Profile: The unique blend of spices, including chili and cumin, offers a balance of heat, earthiness, and a hint of citrus that’s distinctive and inviting.
  • Comfort Food: It’s warm, hearty, and comforting, making it an ideal dish for cold weather, but its vibrant flavors make it enjoyable year-round.
  • One-Pot Wonder: The simplicity of preparation in a single pot makes it a convenient, fuss-free meal that’s perfect for any occasion.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe


Boneless, skinless chicken breast1 1/4 pounds (cut into thin strips)
Canola oil or vegetable oil1 tablespoon
Chicken broth2 (14.5 ounce) cans
Frozen corn, thawed1 (16 ounce) package
Diced tomatoes, undrained1 (14.5 ounce) can
Onion, chopped1 medium
Green pepper, chopped1 medium
Sweet red pepper, chopped1 medium
Chopped green chilies1 (4 ounce) can
Seasoned salt1 1/2 teaspoons
Ground cumin1 teaspoon
Garlic powder1/2 teaspoon

Ingredient Tips 

  • Chicken: Opt for bone-in, skin-on pieces for maximum flavor. You can remove the skin and bones before serving.
  • Vegetables: Fresh is best, but frozen corn and canned beans can work in a pinch. Ensure canned beans are rinsed thoroughly to remove excess sodium.
  • Spices: For the best flavor, use freshly ground spices. If the soup is too spicy, add a dollop of sour cream to temper the heat.
  • Stock: Homemade chicken stock will give the soup more depth, but good-quality store-bought broth can also do the trick.
  • Garnish: Take the lime juice and cilantro. They add a burst of freshness that balances the soup’s hearty flavors.
  • Adjust to Taste: Always taste and adjust the seasoning before serving. Sometimes a pinch more salt or a dash more cumin can make all the difference.

Can You Vary Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe With Other Ingredients?

Southwestern Chicken Soup is versatile and can be adjusted to accommodate various dietary preferences:

  • Keto: Replace beans with low-carb vegetables like zucchini or bell peppers. Consider adding more chicken or even some avocado for extra healthy fats.
  • Paleo: Similar to Keto, replace beans with other veggies. Ensure to use homemade or specific Paleo-friendly chicken stock.
  • Gluten-Free: This recipe is typically gluten-free, but always double-check your chicken stock/broth to ensure it doesn’t contain any hidden gluten.
  • Whole30: Skip the corn and beans and add more Whole30-compliant veggies. Again, make sure your chicken stock is compliant.
  • Vegetarian: Substitute the chicken with extra beans or add hearty veggies like squash. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock.
  • Vegan: Follow the vegetarian version and also replace the chicken with a plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh. Remember to use vegetable broth.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Recipe Directions

  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the bite-sized chicken pieces and sauté them until lightly browned on all sides. This step helps to seal in the flavors and adds a depth of richness to the stew.
  • Once the chicken is lightly browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a 5-quart slow cooker. This will allow any excess oil to stay behind in the skillet.
  • Add the sliced carrots, sliced celery, chopped onion, and minced garlic in the slow cooker with the chicken.
  • Pour the undrained diced tomatoes, frozen peas, and frozen corn kernels into the slow cooker.
  • Add the chicken broth, dried thyme, dried rosemary, and the bay leaf to the mixture.
  • Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the chicken broth may already contain some salt, so adjust accordingly.
  • Give all the ingredients a gentle stir to combine everything evenly.
  • Cover the slow cooker with its lid and cook the stew on low for 7 to 8 hours. This slow-cooking process allows the flavors to meld together and creates a deliciously comforting stew.
  • Before serving, stir the stew to ensure all the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Optionally, garnish the stew with fresh chopped parsley for a pop of color and a burst of freshness.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings


  • Swap chicken with turkey, beef, or plant-based proteins for a different flavor profile.
  • Add rice or quinoa to make the soup more filling.
  • Infuse a smoky flavor by adding chipotle peppers or smoked paprika.


  • Amp up the vegetables with additions like zucchini, spinach, or kale.
  • Spice it up with jalapenos or serrano peppers for extra heat.
  • Incorporate other beans like black beans or pinto beans for more variety.


  • Garnish with fresh cilantro for a burst of herbal freshness.
  • Squeeze lime juice over the soup to enhance its tangy flavor.
  • Sprinkle shredded cheese for a creamy, melty topping.
  • Dollop sour cream or Greek yogurt to balance the heat.
  • Add crushed tortilla chips for a delightful crunch.
  • Include avocado slices for a creamy, healthy fat addition.

Scaling The Recipe

Scaling the Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe up or down is straightforward. You simply adjust the ingredients proportionally based on the number of servings you want.

Scaling Up

  • If you’re preparing the soup for a larger crowd, double or triple the ingredients accordingly. Be mindful of your cooking pot size – if it’s not large enough to handle the increased quantity, consider preparing the soup in multiple batches or using multiple pots.

Scaling Down

  • If you’re cooking for fewer people, halve the ingredients. You can still add the whole amount for a chunkier soup or reserve the leftovers for ingredients that are harder to divide, such as a single can of beans or corn.

What Is Used For Garnishing?

The Southwestern Chicken Soup is typically garnished with:

  • Fresh Cilantro: This herb adds a pop of color and a fresh, citrusy flavor that complements the spicy and savory soup.
  • Lime Wedges: A squeeze of lime juice just before eating enhances the tangy flavors in the soup and balances the heat.
  • Avocado Slices: These add a creamy texture and rich flavor. They’re also a great source of healthy fats.
  • Shredded Cheese: A sprinkle of cheese such as cheddar or Monterey Jack adds a creamy, salty note and helps balance the spicy flavors.
  • Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt: A dollop cools down the soup’s spiciness while adding a creamy texture.
  • Crushed Tortilla Chips: These provide a delightful crunch and an extra layer of flavor. They’re a nod to the soup’s Southwestern roots.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Can I Make Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?

You can easily adapt the Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe for both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot.

Slow Cooker

  • Brown the chicken in a skillet as usual, then transfer the chicken to your slow cooker.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
  • Set your slow cooker to low and let it cook for 7-8 hours.
  • Stir the soup well before serving, and add garnishes as desired.

Instant Pot

  • Use the sauté function on your Instant Pot to brown the chicken with oil.
  • Once browned, add the rest of the ingredients to the pot.
  • Secure the lid and set the Instant Pot to Manual High Pressure for 15 minutes.
  • After the cooking time is up, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
  • Stir before serving and garnish as desired.

Can I Use Store Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?

You can definitely use store-bought broth for your Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe. It’s a convenient option, especially if you’re short on time. When choosing a store-bought broth, opt for a low-sodium version so you can control the salt level in your soup.

However, making homemade chicken broth can elevate your soup if you have the time and ingredients. Homemade broth often has a richer, deeper flavor because you can personalize it with your choice of vegetables, herbs, and seasonings. Additionally, it’s free from preservatives and additives often found in store-bought versions.

Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe?

One of the beauties of the Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe is its versatility. You can adapt the recipe to fit your personal tastes, dietary restrictions, or what you have on hand. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Meat: You can substitute the chicken with other meats like turkey or beef. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a more gamey option, such as venison.
  • Fish: While not traditional, a firm white fish could work in this soup. Be mindful that cooking times would need to be adjusted as fish cooks much faster than chicken.
  • Pasta: Adding pasta such as macaroni or rotini can make the soup heartier. Cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving to prevent it from becoming too soft.
  • Vegetables: Feel free to add or substitute other vegetables based on what’s in season or what you prefer. Squash, zucchini, kale, or even sweet potatoes could be delicious.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe

Some tips and tricks to ensure your Southwestern Chicken Soup turns out perfectly:

Prepping Tips

  • Chop Ingredients Evenly: Make sure all your vegetables are cut to a similar size. This ensures they cook evenly.
  • Fresh Spices: For the best flavor, use fresh spices. If your spices are older, you may need to add more to get the desired taste.
  • Rinse Canned Beans: If you’re using canned beans, rinse them thoroughly under cold water to remove any excess sodium.

Cooking Tips

  • Brown the Chicken: Browning the chicken before adding it to the soup helps seal the juices and adds a deeper flavor.
  • Low and Slow: Cooking the soup on low heat for longer allows the flavors to meld together and the chicken to become tender.
  • Taste and Adjust: Taste the soup towards the end of the cooking time. Adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Resting Time: Let the soup rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the flavors to blend even more.
  • Fresh Garnishes: Remember to add fresh garnishes just before serving. This adds a pop of color and fresh flavor to the soup.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

Nutritional Values

Southwestern Chicken Soup is a delight to the taste buds and a nutritional powerhouse. The chicken offers a valuable source of lean protein, aiding in muscle development and satiety. 

What Are Total Calories In A Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe?

The total calories in a Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe can vary widely depending on the exact ingredients and their quantities. On average, a serving of Southwestern Chicken Soup may contain between 200-300 calories. This considers a version of the soup that includes chicken, beans, corn, bell peppers, and a variety of spices.

However, adding other ingredients like cheese, sour cream, or avocados for garnish will increase the calorie content accordingly. Similarly, a version made with leaner meats or more vegetables might have fewer calories.

Dietary Restrictions For Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe

The Southwestern Chicken Soup is versatile and can cater to many dietary restrictions with minor adjustments. However, in its traditional form, it may not be suitable for the following dietary restrictions:

  • Nut-Free: Southwestern Chicken Soup is generally nut-free, but again, always check the labels on store-bought broth and spice blends.
  • Low Sodium: If you’re on a low-sodium diet, control salt levels by using low-sodium broth and rinsing canned beans thoroughly. Also, adjust added salt as needed.

Health Benefits Of Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe

The Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe is not only flavorful but also packs a punch of health benefits:

  • High in Protein: The chicken in this soup is an excellent source of lean protein essential for muscle growth and repair.
  • Fiber-Rich: Beans and corn add a good amount of dietary fiber, promoting healthy digestion and contributing to feelings of fullness.
  • Packed with Vitamins and Minerals: Vegetables like bell peppers and tomatoes provide a variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.
  • Heart-Healthy: The mono- and polyunsaturated fats from the oil and, potentially avocado garnish can contribute to heart health.
  • Immune Boosting: The chicken broth base, especially if homemade, can be rich in immune-boosting nutrients. Additionally, garlic and spices like cumin have anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition table

How Can I Make Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe Lower In Sodium? 

If you’re looking to lower the sodium content in the Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe, here are a few tips:

  • Homemade Broth: Use a homemade broth or stock where you control the sodium level. Store-bought versions often have high amounts of sodium.
  • Rinse Canned Ingredients: If you’re using canned beans or corn, rinse them thoroughly under cold water before adding them to the soup. This can remove up to 40% of the sodium.
  • Limit Added Salt: Hold back on adding salt until you’ve added all the other ingredients. The spices and natural flavors provide enough taste that you don’t need much additional salt.
  • Use No-Sodium or Low-Sodium Products: Some brands offer low-sodium or sodium-free versions of products like canned beans or broths.
  • Spice it Up: Use other spices and herbs to add flavor without adding sodium. Garlic, cumin, and cilantro can add flavor depth without the salt.

How Can I Make Southwestern Chicken Soup Lower In Sugar?

The traditional Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe is generally low in sugar, as it primarily consists of chicken, vegetables, beans, and spices. However, if you’re aiming to further reduce the sugar content, consider the following steps:

  • Avoid Sweet Vegetables: Certain vegetables like corn or sweet peppers have naturally occurring sugars. Opt for lower-sugar vegetables if needed.
  • Check Canned Goods: Some canned goods, like beans or tomatoes, might have added sugars. Always check the label and choose no-sugar-added versions.
  • Homemade Broth: Commercially prepared broths can sometimes contain added sugars. Making your own at home allows you to control the ingredients.
  • Mind Your Toppings: Garnishes like certain salsas or sauces might contain added sugars. Again, checking labels or making your own can help decrease sugar levels.
  • Balance with Spices: Increase the use of spices like cumin, chili, or smoked paprika, which can add depth of flavor without needing sugar.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

How To Serve Southwestern Chicken Soup In The Best Way?

Serving the Southwestern Chicken Soup involves more than just ladling it into a bowl. Here’s how you can make it a complete and delightful meal:

  • Bowls: Serve the soup in deep, wide bowls to make it easy to scoop up both the broth and hearty ingredients.
  • Garnishes: Remember to garnish! A sprinkle of fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, or even some crushed tortilla chips can add another layer of flavor and texture.
  • Accompaniments: Although the soup is a complete meal in itself, you could pair it with a side salad or a slice of crusty bread to make it even more satisfying.
  • Temperature: The soup is best served hot. The heat intensifies the flavors and makes it a perfect comfort meal.

Perfect Side Dishes To Complement The Southwestern Chicken Soup

While Southwestern Chicken Soup is hearty enough to stand alone, pairing it with the right side can turn your meal into a true feast. Here are a few ideas:

  • Cornbread: The slightly sweet flavor and crumbly texture of cornbread complement the hearty, spicy soup perfectly.
  • Tortilla Chips and Salsa or Guacamole: These add a crunchy texture and tie in with the Southwestern theme.
  • Green Salad: A simple salad with a light vinaigrette can contrast refreshingly with the rich soup.
  • Grilled Vegetable Skewers: If you’re enjoying your meal al fresco, some lightly grilled vegetables can complement the robust flavors of the soup.
  • Quinoa or Rice: If you want to add more heft to the meal, a side of quinoa or rice can do the trick.
  • Cheese Quesadilla: A crispy quesadilla filled with melting cheese can be a delicious and comforting addition.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe

How Long Can We Store The Southwestern Chicken Soup?

Southwestern Chicken Soup can be stored safely in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days. Make sure to cool the soup completely before storing it in an airtight container to maintain freshness and avoid bacterial growth.

If you want to store it for a longer period, you can freeze the soup. Properly stored, it will maintain the best quality for about 4 to 6 months but remain safe. Just remember to leave some space at the top of your storage container, as the soup will expand when frozen.

Can I Make Soup In Advance?

Southwestern Chicken Soup is a great dish to make in advance. In fact, making it a day ahead enhances the flavors by giving them more time to meld together.

To do this, follow your recipe as directed, then allow the soup to cool before storing it in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When you’re ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

What Can We Do With Leftovers?

Leftover Southwestern Chicken Soup can be the base for a variety of creative meals:

  • Enchilada Filling: Use the soup as a filling for enchiladas. Top with sauce and cheese and bake.
  • Rice Stir-In: Stir leftover soup into cooked rice or quinoa for a flavorful side dish.
  • Chicken Tacos: Shred the chicken, reduce the broth, and use the mix as a filling for tacos.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Fill hollowed-out bell peppers with the soup, top with cheese, and bake.
  • Pasta Sauce: Reduce the broth to make a chunky sauce for pasta. Top with grated cheese.
  • Shepherd’s Pie: Use the soup as a filling for a comforting Shepherd’s Pie.
  • Quesadilla Filling: Use the soup (minus some broth) as a hearty quesadilla filling.
Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe


The Southwestern Chicken Soup recipe doesn’t require any special kitchen tools. You can easily prepare it with common cooking equipment. Here are the basic tools you’ll need:

  • A Large Skillet or Frying Pan: This is for sautéing the chicken and browning it for extra flavor.
  • A 5-Quart Slow Cooker: If you plan to slow cook the soup, a slow cooker makes it easy to set it and forget it.
  • A Slotted Spoon: Useful for transferring the chicken from the skillet to the slow cooker, leaving behind excess oil.
  • A Knife and Cutting Board: You’ll need these for chopping the vegetables and chicken.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: These are important for ensuring you add the correct amount of each ingredient.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Dried Beans Instead Of Canned In The Recipe?

Absolutely, you can use dried beans. However, keep in mind that they require soaking and have a longer cooking time. Plan ahead to soak them overnight and pre-cook them before adding to the soup to ensure they are tender.

How Can I Add More Heat To The Southwestern Chicken Soup?

To add more spice, consider including diced jalapeños, serrano peppers, or even a dash of cayenne pepper. Remember to add in small amounts and taste as you go to achieve your preferred heat level.

Is There An Alternative To Using A Slow Cooker For The Soup?

Certainly. If you do not own a slow cooker, you can use a regular pot on the stovetop. You would simply need to adjust the cooking time, usually simmering for about 1-2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and flavors are melded.

What Kind Of Chicken Is Best For Southwestern Chicken Soup?

Answer: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are commonly used for their convenience and lean protein content. However, using bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces can add more flavor to the soup.

Can I Make The Soup Creamier?

Yes, you can blend a portion of the soup to create a creamier texture or add a splash of cream or coconut milk towards the end of the cooking process. Remember, these alterations will change the nutritional content of the soup.

Delicious Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe - A Must-Try

Delicious Southwestern Chicken Soup Recipe – A Must-Try

5 from 5 votes
Recipe by Hanna Barnes Course: Soup Recipe


Prep time


Cooking time





Southwestern Chicken Soup is a savory blend of succulent chicken, vibrant vegetables, hearty beans, and a mix of aromatic spices. It captures the essence of the Southwest, offering a comforting and satisfying meal that’s perfect for any day of the year.


  • 1 1/4 pounds 1 1/4 Boneless, skinless chicken breast (cut into thin strips)

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Canola oil or vegetable oil

  • 14.5 ounce 14.5 Chicken broth

  • 16 ounce 16 Frozen corn, thawed

  • 14.5 ounce 14.5 Diced tomatoes, undrained

  • 1 medium 1 onion chopped

  • 1 medium 1 Green pepper, chopped

  • 1 medium 1 Sweet red pepper, chopped

  • 4 ounce 4 Chopped green chilies

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 1 1/2 Seasoned salt

  • 1 tablespoon 1 Ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon 1 1/2 Garlic powder

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Heat your skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add chicken pieces. Sauté until they’re lightly browned.
  • Transfer the chicken pieces to a 5-qt slow cooker using a slotted spoon, leaving the oil behind.
  • In the slow cooker, incorporate the rest of the ingredients. Make sure to stir them well to combine.
  • Secure the lid of the slow cooker. Set it to cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  • After the long slow cook, stir the soup thoroughly to mix the flavors evenly.
  • Ladle the hot soup into bowls for serving.
  • Optional: Garnish with fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, or a dollop of sour cream to add an extra burst of flavor.


  • Flavorful Spices: Southwestern cuisine is known for its bold and vibrant flavors. 
  • Roasted Vegetables: For an added depth of flavor, roast some of the vegetables before adding them to the soup. 
  • Creamy Elements: To give the soup a creamy and luscious texture, add ingredients like sour cream, Greek yogurt, or even coconut milk. 
  • Bean Variety: Southwestern cuisine often incorporates different types of beans. 
Hanna Barnes

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