Chicken Tortilla “Soup Starter” Freezer Recipe

Currently at the top of my “favorite things I’ve ever preserved” list! Freezing Chicken Tortilla Soup Starter is a fantastic way to take what is in abundance during the summer, and tuck it away as something incredibly useful and delicious for the winter months.

I love stuffing the freezer full of high value items like this! And if you have tomatoes and peppers to preserve, this is the perfect use for them!

The idea of a “soup starter” is to preserve what’s fresh and in-season by cooking all the veggies… things like tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and sweet corn, into a little flavor-packed stew, and then freezing it. Come meal time, all you need is a bag of soup starter, some broth, chicken, and a can of beans. It’s the quickest and yummiest dinner you can imagine, coming together in about 10 minutes and tasting like summertime! You can’t beat it.

Watch the video tutorial for how to make and freeze the starter and cook the soup!

I put up 6 bags of this last year, which wasn’t nearly enough. I’ll be doubling that *at least* this year! My goal is to eat chicken tortilla soup once a month or more.

This is both Karl’s and my favorite soup– if you’ve never made it, you must! Tortilla chips are crushed in the bottom of your soup bowl, and the soup ladled over top. Then it’s topped with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro. The chips get a little bit soggy and are SO GOOD swimming underneath the spicy tomato-y broth! Karl prefers to keep his crunchy and just dunk them or eat them alongside the soup. Either way, Chicken Tortilla Soup has earned a permanent spot in our monthly dinner rotation.

Want more freezing inspiration?

If you like unique and creative ways to freeze fruits and veggies, you’ll love my book, Freeze Fresh! In it I give you detailed instructions for freezing the basics, plus lots of unique recipes for freezing, along with recipes for actually using up all that frozen produce. You can find it wherever books are sold. Get Freeze Fresh —> here!

Chicken Tortilla Soup Starter + Soup Recipe


For the starter:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 large poblano peppers, diced
  • 3 large bell peppers, diced (2 green and 1 red or orange)
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, deseeded and finely diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 9 cups diced roma or paste tomatoes
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 3 cups raw sweet corn kernels (3 to 4 large ears)

For the soup:

  • 1 bag frozen Chicken Tortilla Soup Starter, thawed
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups cooked diced chicken
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt
  • Tortilla chips, for serving
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for serving


For the starter:

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, poblano peppers, bell peppers, and jalapeños, and sauté until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, and taco seasoning. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender and the flavors have melded, about 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the corn and continue cooking until it is tender, about 10 minutes longer.
  • To Freeze: Cool completely and then chill in the refrigerator. Divide evenly into 3 quart-sized freezer bags and freeze.

For the soup:

  • In a large pot over medium heat combine the broth and starter and bring to a gentle simmer. Stir in the chicken and beans and continue simmering until warmed through, about 5 minutes.
  • Because some broths are saltier than others, taste the soup and add salt if necessary. I typically add about 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Crush a handful of tortilla chips in the bottom of each soup bowl, and then ladle in the soup. Top with cheese, sour cream, and cilantro.

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