Chicken (or Turkey) Enchilada Soup


How typical of me to be just this much late with a recipe for using up your leftover Thanksgiving turkey.  But maybe we can all agree that I’m actually just a bit early with an incredible suggestion of how to use up your leftover Christmas turkey.  That will make me feel so much better.

Of course, this is how I used up my leftover Thanksgiving turkey this year, but you can make this tonight if you have some chicken on hand because, really, chicken or turkey, it will make no difference.  Enchilada soup rocks.  You really must make yourself some and possibly even share it with those you love or deem worthy.  Boy howdy, is this stuff good.


What makes this soup so enchilada-y is the addition of masa harina, a corn flour used for making corn tortillas.  The masa is really sort of the star here.  Not only does it thicken the soup, but it imparts that distinctive corn flavor and texture reminiscent of your favorite enchilada.  Most grocery stores carry it these days in either the Quaker or Maseca brand.  If you can’t find it though, not to worry.  Just run a dozen corn tortillas through your food processor and then add them into the soup and they will melt right in as it cooks and create the same effect.

And I must mention that although the photo up there doesn’t actually show this, the soup is best served topped with crumbled tortilla chips, sour cream, a little extra grated cheese and a dusting of cilantro.  Now you see why I want you to make this?

A new post-holiday tradition was born in the Circle B Kitchen last week.  I am happy to announce that I will never again wonder what to do with my leftover turkey.  It will from now on be happily used to make this incredible soup.  The Husband has also requested it for New Year’s this year, and I’ll be more than happy to oblige. Here’s the recipe…


This is a tasty, easy soup to throw together with leftover chicken or turkey.  Adjust the heat levels to your preference by adding more or less cayenne pepper.  I like to top this with tortilla strips that I’ve cut from corn tortillas and fried until crispy.  But crushed store-bought tortilla chips work great too (cousin Katie has suggested a sprinkling of Fritos and we won't argue with that).   Masa harina is a corn flour that is readily found in most grocery stores today.  Quaker and Maseca are two familiar brands.  The masa harina thickens the soup and adds that "enchilada" flavor that's so great.  If you can't get your hands on masa harina, you can chop up or run about a dozen corn tortillas through your food processor and add them instead.  They will "melt" into the soup and thicken it just fine.   If the soup seems too thick for you, add enough water, enchilada sauce or chicken broth to create the consistency you desire.  Enjoy!

Click here for a printable recipe

1 pound cooked, shredded chicken or turkey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 quart turkey or chicken broth
1 cup masa harina   
2 cups water (or chicken broth)
1 ¼ cups (10 oz) enchilada sauce (store-bought or homemade)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, or to taste)

For serving:

Extra grated cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro
Sour cream
Tortilla chips or strips


Cook onion and garlic in remaining oil until onions are translucent.  Add the chili powder, cumin and cayenne and sauté until fragrant.  Stir in the chicken broth.

In a bowl, slowly whisk the masa harina into the 2 cups water until well blended. Pour into the pot with the enchilada sauce and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until thickened.  Add the shredded chicken and the cheddar cheese and stir to mix well.   Heat through and taste for seasonings.  Add additional water or chicken broth if the soup seems too thick.

To serve, top with crushed tortilla chips or tortilla strips, grated cheese, sour cream and chopped cilantro.

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