This soup combines cilantro, cumin, jalapeno, chicken, and tortilla chips for a simple, delicate broth. Tortilla chips are added for that delicious corn flavor, to thicken up the broth, and to use as a crunchy topper. Cilantro stems are cooked with onion to add base flavor to the broth, while the more tender stems and leaves are blended up and stirred into the soup at the end to add a vibrant green color and bright, herby flavor. This soup is all about the toppings, so don’t skimp!

Ingredient highlight

Fresh herbs! All fresh herbs (like cilantro!) contain essential oils that aid in digestion, improve circulation, reduce the risk of heart disease, and phytonutrients that fight inflammation (to name a few!).

Read my full blog post about fresh herbs here!

Servings 4
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, thicker stems trimmed and finely chopped and separated from the leaves/tender stems
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped green cabbage (or use kale or spinach)*
  • 2 heaping cups tortilla chips (about 60g or 2 oz)**
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic


  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Tortilla chips
  • Yogurt or sour cream
  • Chopped tomatoes or pico de gallo/salsa
  • Cilantro
  • *If using kale or spinach, just stir that in at the very end.
  • **If you have corn tortillas, you can make your own chips. See instructions. 


  • In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cilantro stems, jalapeno, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook until the onions have softened, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the cumin and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring often, to toast the cumin. Stir in the water, chicken, bell pepper, cabbage, tortilla chips, and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, then give it a stir and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer rapidly for 15 minutes (uncovered), stirring halfway through. Turn off the heat and transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Shred up the chicken and return it to the pot.
  • In a high-speed blender, add the remaining cilantro, lime, garlic, and ½ cup cold water and blend on high until smooth. Immediately pour back into the soup and stir to combine. Taste and season with more salt or lime, if needed.
  • Serve topped with plenty of cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, yogurt or sour cream, and chopped tomatoes (if using).

How to make your own tortilla chips:

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut 6 corn tortillas into triangles and place on the baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt until evenly coated. Spread out into one layer and bake for 10 minutes, tossing halfway, or until they turn deeply golden. Remove and let cool. They will crisp up more as they cool.

Items you can prep ahead (optional)

  • Chop 1 yellow onion
  • Chop 1 bunch cilantro, thicker stems separated from the leaves/tender stems
  • Chop 1 jalapeno
  • Chop 1 red bell pepper
  • Chop 2 cups green cabbage (or use kale or spinach)
  • Prep any toppings 
  • Make the soup


  • To make vegetarian, use 2 (15 oz) cans of drained and rinsed beans in place of chicken. You could also add ½-½ cup white rice to add more substance. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce in with the water, etc…to give the broth more flavor. 
  • Use any veg you have on hand in place of the bell pepper and cabbage (about 3-4 cups worth). Just keep in mind the cooking time. For example, broccoli gets mushy fast, so add it in the last couple of minutes. Mushrooms can cook forever, so those can be added in at the same time.


  • Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 2 months.

Leftovers + Repurposing:

  • Warm up leftovers on the stove or in the microwave until warmed through. Taste and add more salt or lime, if needed. Top with all the toppings.
  • Stir in a can of beans to stretch the soup. 
  • Pickled red onions would be delicious on top
  • Top with a fried egg to add more protein. The yolk will also add richness to the broth.

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