Easy Frugal Cooking | Tortilla Soup


“More frugal recipes!” was a collective cry when I asked you about what you’d like to see on my blog, and since I aim to please, here’s an easy, frugal main dish recipe for you.

I made this from a combination of Tortilla Soup recipes I found on AllRecipes, so I can’t exactly give credit to any one person. One of the recipes I got my inspiration from is this one, though. It makes for a lovely, quick meal, and it costs very little (way less than takeout for a family!).

The prep is really simple. First, saute chopped onions in a little bit of oil. When they’re almost soft, add chopped garlic and saute for about a minute.


Mix in chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, chicken broth, and water, and simmer 5-10 minutes (longer, if you prefer).


Then stir in chicken, hominy, corn, beans, and chopped cilantro (naturally, if you’re one of the unlucky people to whom cilantro tastes like soap, you’ll want to leave that out), and once that all heats up, the soup is done.

Wasn’t that easy?


Now, if you want to make it tastier and more beautiful, you can sprinkled crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese (cheddar looks so much better than Monterey Jack, but alas, I had none when I made this batch of soup), and chopped cilantro on top, and finish it off with a dollop of sour cream.


Yum. This goes very nicely with a pan of cornbread or corn muffins.

Since soup-making is not as exact a science as baking, you can customize and modify to your heart’s content. If you don’t like hominy, use more corn instead. If you don’t like beans, you certainly don’t have to add them. If you like really spicy soup, you can add more chili powder. And so on, and so on. ;)


Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes
10.5 oz condensed chicken broth
1 1/4 cups water (alternatively, you can use 2 1/2 cups of homemade broth instead of the broth and water)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 cup white hominy
1 15 oz. can of black beans
1 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies (my kids hate spicy food, so I don’t add these)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cooked chicken breast halves, cut into bite sized pieces (I grill mine, usually)

Toppings: crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheese, green onions, additional cilantro, sour cream

In a medium stock pot, saute onion in oil until soft. Add garlic and saute for one minute. Mix in chili powder, cumin, tomatoes, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and simmer 5-10 minutes. Add corn, hominy, beans, chilies (if using), cilantro, and chicken, and heat through. Add salt to taste (if you use homemade broth, you will need to add more salt). Ladle into bowls, and add toppings of your choice.


  1. Erika says

    Such beautiful pictures! This sounds sooo yummy – and I’m pretty sure I have all the ingredients at home now!

  2. Jonathan says

    I was just telling some friends the other day that tortilla soup is easy to make. I hadn’t considered the frugal aspect … which makes it all the better!

  3. ksmedgirl says

    Anyone know where I can get the soup base recipe for the mexican gumbo at Qdoba restaurant? I ADORE this soup, and I figure it can’t be that hard to make, and probably a lot less expensive than buying it there.

  4. Franci says

    That looks so yummy! I can even see myself serving that to guests! (mexican food is probably not quite so common here as in the States, so it might have quite a high novelty factor…)

  5. Kristen says

    @Erika It’s supposed to serve about 8 people, but I’m not entirely sure how much it makes in terms of quarts. It feeds our family (two adults, four kids, ages 10, 8, 5, and 3) for dinner with a few servings left over, though. If you have a small family, you might want to halve it.

  6. Elyn says

    This came out wonderful and made lots of leftovers. I didn’t have the hominy but I’m going to add that next time. Overall, it was super-flavorful and came together fast. I always forget that soups can be quick meals and don’t have to be cooked for a day to be delicious. This was a great meal for our first really cold fall day down South.

  7. Kathy says

    I happened to have in the fridge: about 4 ounces of uncooked chicken breast, cilantro in its waning days, a nearly full , fresh carton of chicken broth – all things that could easily have ended up food waste. Instead, I made this recipe. Mighty tasty and mighty easy on the budget. We skipped the toppings and served with grilled cheese – really cozy, filling dinner on a gray, rainy Ohio spring day. Thanks!


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