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 the restaurant. In recent years, this soup is made in a large central kitchen and reheated in the restaurant.

two bowls of Chicken Enchilada soup

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One thing Chili’s is famous for is their 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.

Chili’s chicken enchilada soup used to be made from scratch in the restaurant. In recent years, however, the soup has been made in a large central kitchen and then reheated in the restaurant.

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!

Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Vegetable oil
  • Chicken base
  • Yellow onions
  • Ground cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Granulated garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Masa harina
  • Water
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Processed American cheese
  • Diced cooked chicken or rotisserie chicken
Chicken Enchilada soup ingredients

Ingredient Notes

Here are a few ingredient substitutions and additions:

  • 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?

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, combine the oil, chicken base, onions, cumin, chili powder, granulated garlic, salt, and cayenne.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions are soft and translucent.
  4. Add the masa harina mixture to the pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  6. Stir in more water and the tomatoes.
  7. Return to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
  9. Add the chicken and heat through.

Recipe Tips for the Cook

  • 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.

two bowls of homemade Chilis 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!

2 bowls of homemade Chicken Enchilada soup

Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

You can make Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup at home with this recipe.
4.88 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
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

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Debra

    Curious why you’re not connected to Pinterest. Looks like a great recipe. Without a printer, I very much rely on my saved recipes on Pinterest.

  2. Rosie

    5 stars
    Stephanie ,
    This recipe is great! I have done twice before. I want to make it today but noticed I don’t have granulated garlic, can I use fresh garlic and if so how much for half the serving ?

    Thank you !

  3. Jeff Hanna

    5 stars
    Outstanding recipe! However, this makes a VAST amount of soup unless you have ten hearty eaters to feed, so I halve everything.
    That bland, artificial plastic junk called Velveeta – no! Plenty of sharp cheddar makes this version better than Chili’s. Also I don’t like “burning hot & spicy” so no cayenne. A large can or two of chicken breast chunks works great.
    Forget using tortilla chips or tortillas – Masa is super cheap and easy to use.

  4. Yvonne

    I love this soup! I agree, I do not use velveeta. I have since mixed up the recipe to suit my family.
    I use petite cut tomatoes with jalapeños vs crushed tomatoes.
    I add 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar and reduce american cheese to taste.
    I also add 1 can white corn and 1 can kidney beans.

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