Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to restaurant copy cat recipes. In theory, it sounds like a great idea (oh boy I can recreate my favorite restaurant dishes at home!), but rarely does the end result actually end up tasting like the beloved dish. I’ve tried copy cat recipes for many different dishes, but have never posted them here because the end result was disappointing every single time. Until now.

It’s a poorly kept secret here at Ex Libris that I love soup. A lot. I’m “that person” who orders a bowl of soup at a restaurant and only a bowl of soup. And yes, that is all I really want for my meal, thank you very much. One of my favorite restaurant soups has always been Chili’s Chicken Enchilada soup. I’ve tried many different recipes for enchilada soup (including this slow cooker version), but ultimately was unsatisfied because none of them had the rich taste and thick texture of the Chili’s original. But I’m happy to report that I have finally found the recipe! I’ve made this soup twice now, and have loved it both times. Enjoy!


Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

Adapted from: & CopyKat Recipes


Ingredients (* see note below):


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 lb cooked chicken breast, diced 

2 (medium) onions, diced

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 quart chicken broth

1.5-2 quarts water

*2 cups masa harina

can enchilada sauce

*1/2 lb processed American cheese, cut in small cubes

2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon chili powder

*1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*1 teaspoon salt, to taste (optional)


Shredded Cheese

Crumbed tortilla chips


In a large pot, add the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until soft and translucent (or about 5 minutes). Then, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt (optional). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the masa harina and 1 quart of water in a large bowl. Stir until all the lumps dissolve. Then, add the masa harina to the large pot and mix well. Once the mixture starts to bubble, cook for an additional 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly.

Stir in the broth, remaining water (Note: I usually only add 2 cups instead of 4), enchilada sauce, tomatoes, and cheese. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken to the soup. Reduce heat and simmer soup 30-40 minutes or until thick.

Serve soup in cups or bowls and garnish with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.


1) Masa harina is a flour made from specially treated corn, and it is frequently used to make things like tortillas and tamales. You should not substitute the masa with corn flour or cornmeal because you will not get the same results. Besides, why would you want to? It gives the soup a wonderful flavor! It’s frequently found in the “international” section of a well stocked supermarket.

2) After reading Salt, Sugar, Fat I had a knee jerk reaction when I saw this soup called for “processed American cheese.” I was dead set on using the good stuff, but after doing some reading in my cookbooks and on the Internet I decided to go ahead and use American cheese. Apparently, the processing gives the “cheese” a resistance to separating during cooking and therefore retains its taste and texture. If you are dead set on using natural cheese, I would add some extra cooking time to allow the cheese to melt.

3) The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I doubled this to a full teaspoon because I like some spice to my food. If you prefer milder dishes, I would recommend only using 1/2 teaspoon.

4) As usual, I didn’t add the salt and I didn’t miss it.

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