Chicken enchilada soup contains the unmistakable flavor of delicious cheesy chicken enchiladas in a creamy irresistible soup. We pressure cook our soup in the Instant Pot to produce a euphoric taste bud experience with every spoonful. Three chicken breasts make this soup hearty enough to fill even the biggest apatite.
A fork full of chicken enchiladas is likely to have shredded chicken, corn tortilla, and cheese all covered in a rich enchilada sauce. Many people like to top their chicken enchiladas with green onion, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and even crispy corn tortilla chips. In other words, an explosion of terrific flavors with every bite.
We use plenty of chicken breasts pressure cooked in 28 ounces my favorite enchilada sauce (El Pato), one chopped yellow onion, plenty of fresh sliced or diced garlic, a bunch of cilantro, and just the right amount of seasoning.
Two cups of cheddar and a pound of Velveeta cheese is used to give the soup a smooth and creamy feel. The warm corn tortilla flavor comes from a healthy helping of masa harina cooked into the chicken enchilada soup.
We start the whole thing out by browning medium large chicken breasts for 3 per side.
Swirl the pot around to get the bottom covered in olive oil. Use long kitchen tongs to place the chicken breasts into the instant pot.
The chicken breasts will stick to the hot pot where they touch. Make sure you place them near the edge to leave room for the others. Brown for 3 minutes on sauté.
Use a wooden spatula to scrape the chicken breast free from the instant pot before flipping or moving the chicken breasts. Flip the chicken breasts and brown on sauté for another 3 minutes. Use the flat wooden spatula to free the chicken breasts and use long kitchen tongs to move them to a plate.
Cancel Sauté on the Instant Pot. We want the pot to slowly cool as we sweat our chopped onions.
A whole yellow onion is a must ingredient in any chicken enchilada soup. We are cooking our onion with the other ingredients meaning we want an onion that does well being cooked. The yellow onion flavor transforms from a pungent onion flavor to a sweet addition to our sauce.
Add the chopped onion to the instant pot as soon as the chicken has finished browning and moved to a plate. The sauté function has been canceled so the onions will warm up and turn translucent without burning while you slice the garlic and chop the cilantro.
Garlic is such a versatile ingredient that adds a significant amount of flavor to any dish. Six to ten large garlic cloves contribute a warm nutty flavor to the chicken enchilada soup. Adding more will intensify this magnificent flavor and is always welcome. Use a sharp knife to slice or dice the garlic cloves and add the sliced garlic to the onions. The onions should have edges that are translucent.
Cilantro is one of my favorite ingredients to add to my Mexican recipes. Cilantro provides our soup with a distinctive robust tangy flavor. This changes the whole direction of our chicken enchilada soup.
Chop a whole bunch of cilantro chopping down to the large group of stems at the center. This is much easier with a large cutting board to hold all of the chopped ingredients. Add the chopped cilantro to the onions and garlic in the instant pot.
Of course we will be adding extra seasoning to our soup. Chili powder and cumin are common flavors added to Mexican dishes and this recipe is no exception. We add chicken bouillon as well to make sure the three cups of water we add do not wash out any flavor.
Do not forget the salt. Salt is a very important part of recipes. Salt spikes all of the other ingredients waking them up so you do not miss out on what they have to offer.
We add a little fresh ground black pepper. I now use rainbow peppercorns in my grinder that I recommend, and is a must add ingredient in our chicken enchilada soup. Use a nice grinder for an even grind.
Add the rest of the 3 cups of water to the instant pot.
One of the key ingredients is chicken enchilada soup is enchilada sauce. I used to mix red and green enchilada sauces together to produce a different enchilada sauce flavor. Over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate the sauces on their own and prefer red enchilada sauce for this recipe.
El Pato makes my favorite store bought red enchilada sauce for this recipe. It melds so well with the other ingredients in this soup producing a rich flavor.
For this recipe, I like to use chicken breast because they absorb the flavors in the instant pot so well. I do not cook the chicken breasts to the point of shredding because at that point, they are overcooked. That means tough meat.
Pressure cook medium large chicken breasts in the enchilada soup for 8 minutes releasing the pressure immediately will produce perfectly cooked chicken breasts. If you have some impressively large chicken breast, pressure cook for 9 minutes releasing the pressure immediately after.
Use long kitchen tongs to move the chicken breasts to a plate letting the enchilada soup run back into the instant pot for a few seconds first. Use a large piece of aluminum foil to cover the chicken breasts on the plate. Leave the chicken breasts under an aluminum foil tent for 8 minutes to rest.
This step allows the temperature to come down and will give the chicken time to absorb the juices into the muscle tissue. The chicken will be moist, flavorful and tender. Juices will flow out of the chicken breasts if cut into right away.
Adding a lot of cheddar and Velveeta cheese adds a ton of sharp flavor often found in enchiladas. We not only use it to fill that specific flavor element, but we use it to give the soup a velvety texture.
Shred 1.5 cups of cheddar cheese.
Do not be afraid of using Velveeta cheese. When melted into our chicken enchilada soup, it brings a level of magical flavor that is salty and delicious. Chop 1 pound of Velveeta to help a quick melt in the enchilada soup.
Add the shredded cheddar and chopped Velveeta cheese to the enchilada sauce to melt. Put the instant pot lid on just to keep everything warm while we make the masa harina.
Chicken enchiladas use corn tortillas contributing quite a bit of flavor that would be missed if left out. To get that corn tortilla flavor, we use a half a cup of masa mixed very well with 1 cup of water to make masa harina. Corn tortillas are made from masa harina so why not add it to our chicken enchilada soup? It also acts as a thickener so we get a two for one!
If you have never used masa before, you probably haven’t seen it at the grocery store. I have only bought one bag and still have the same bag. I bought a brand called Maseca instant yellow corn masa flour and I have zero complaints.
Stir the masa harina slowly into the enchilada soup in the instant pot.
If you missed a clump of masa when stirring and it gets in your enchilada soup, use a whisk to break it down so it is all mixed evenly.
Put the Instant Pot lid on with the Keep Warm function still on. The keep warm function comes on automatically after the pressure cook time has finished. Let all of the ingredients meld into one another for 20 minutes. I use a kitchen timer so I don’t forget.
When there are about 5 minutes left on the enchilada soup, use a sharp knife to slice the chicken breasts thin and chop into 1 – 1.5 inch bite size strips. This gives the soup an incredible texture that’s fun to eat. I recommend cutting on a nice end grain wood cutting board when using a sharp knife.
This is your chance to put your favorite additions to the chicken enchilada soup to not only add fun flavors but also fun textures. A handful of grape tomatoes cut into quarters add a sweet tomato flavor and a sharp snap of texture with each bite.
Diced sweet onion scattered across the top adds crunch and sweet onion flavor enchiladas love so much. A sprinkle of chopped cilantro is a must when adding onion to any Mexican dish.
If you want to brighten the bowl of chicken enchilada soup even more, top with thin slices of jalapeno. Don’t forget the tortilla chips! They go great with this chicken enchilada soup.