Budget Friendly, Healthy, Soups and Stews

Sour and Spicy Chicken Tomatillo Soup

Chicken Tomatillo Soup

My first try at cooking with tomatillos was on a whim when experimenting with a salsa verde type of chili recipe. I really didn’t even know what a tomatillo was or what it tasted like. I only knew they were a key ingredient in green salsa. That chili recipe is still under construction, because I got completely distracted by my idea for a chicken tomatillo soup. It’s similar to what a lot of people call chicken tortilla soup, but I really wanted to highlight the tomatillos as a key ingredient.

What even is a tomatillo?

If you are like me, you might be wondering what exactly is this weird-looking vegetable. Tomatillos originated in Mexico – like a lot of the best foods – and are in the same plant family as tomatoes. The tomatillos you find in the grocery store are almost always green, which is perfect and when they are their most tart. However, if you are lucky enough to have space for a garden to grow your own, they will continue to ripen past the sour and green phase to a yellowish color with a sweeter flavor. That may or may not be desirable depending on how well you like sour flavors. To clean a tomatillo, remove the papery husk, rinse well, cut off the stem, and you are ready to cook!

What I like so much about tomatillos is their sour flavor. I love sour food. If it’s spicy and sour at the same time, even better! This chicken tomatillo soup is that ideal mixture of sour and spicy. When I made it for this post I was even talking to Ben about how it almost reminded me of a fusion between Tom Yum soup and chicken tortilla soup. Tom Yum is like the gold standard for sour and spicy soups, so the more often I can eat food that tastes like it the better!

Soup considerations

I know some people are not fans of chicken thighs, but I would recommend trying them at least once. I feel like dark meat generally works better in soup. It brings more flavor and is less likely to get kind of tough or dry. Chicken thighs are also a lot cheaper than breast meat! I always buy boneless and skinless chicken thighs, and I don’t trim the fat. I’ve found that baking the thighs on a sheet pan at a relatively high heat really renders off most of the fat. Any excessive fatty bits that remain can be discarded when chopping up the cooked meat, so you don’t have to deal with raw chicken too much during meal prep.

The chicken tomatillo soup is pretty quick to make and is filling on its own. However, if you are looking for a larger dinner, serving it with cornbread or chips and guacamole would be nice. You will definitely want to have your favorite hot sauce handy to spice it up even more, if you like spicy. Adding some cheese as a garnish is okay, although I find cheese in soup to be really annoying. I also like to garnish it with a little cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Chicken Tomatillo Soup

Yield: 8 Servings

Calories per serving: 327

Fat per serving: 10

Carbs per serving: 31

Protein per serving: 28

Fiber per serving: 8


  • Chicken
  • 2 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Soup
  • 2 tsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 Yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 - 3 Poblano Peppers (2 if large or 3 if small), roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Ground coriander
  • 6 - 8 Cups Chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2 (14.5 oz) Cans Pinto beans, drain liquid but do not rinse
  • 1 (14.5 oz) Can Fire roasted tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 1/2 Cups Frozen, white sweet corn
  • 7 - 9 Tomatillos, cleaned and diced
  • Garnish
  • Cilantro, finely chopped
  • Lime Wedges
  • Hot sauce


    For the chicken:
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Even spread chicken thighs across an 18 x 13 inch sheet pan and season with salt and cumin.
  • Once oven is to temperature, bake the chicken for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes turn the chicken thighs over and bake for another 12 minutes.
  • The chicken should be fully cooked with most fat rendered off and slightly crispy in places.
  • Let the chicken cool, so that it's easy to handle. Then roughly dice the thighs while removing any fatty bits as you go.
    For the soup:
  • While the chicken is cooking, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
  • When the oil moves quickly around the bottom of the pot, add the onions and cook until translucent or for about 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking and browning.
  • Add the poblano peppers, cumin, and coriander. Stir and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat if onions start browning.
  • Add the tomatoes, pinto beans and tomatillos.
  • Add chicken, tomatillos and sweet corn.
  • Add chicken broth. If your pot is too small, you may need to omit some of the chicken broth.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with cilantro, lime wedges, and hot sauce.

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