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Chicken and Tomatillo Soup

I’m home from school, waiting for the plumber to come so that I can have running water, but I have ice, plenty of Diet Coke, and some of this soup in the freezer, so life is still good. Hopefully I’ll be able to take a shower again not too long after you read this, fingers crossed.

Possibly some of you who are cilantro haters are groaning seeing another photo of a dish that has cilantro, but read on. It’s actually the tart-flavored tomatillos (toe-mah-tee-ohs) that are the star of this soup. I just love the flavor of this intesting fruit which is called husk tomato, jamberry, husk cherry, mexican tomato, or ground cherry in different parts of the world. It’s easily recognizable from the husk that surrounds the fruit.

Tomatillos are the key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces, and the flavor is sharp, slightly lemony, and tart. Raw tomatillos are a delightful addition to fresh salsa (with or without tomatoes), and the tomatillo is a key ingredient in Chile Verde, a mexican stew made with pork. Although tomatillos slightly resemble the flavor of unripe tomatoes, they are much more flavorful and in my opinion green tomatoes aren’t really a good substitute.

You can buy tomatillos in a can, but the flavor is fresher when you buy them raw. In Utah they’re readily available all year. They’re fairly easy to grow needing conditions similar to a tomato plant.
In this dish I wanted a strong tomatillo flavor but not bit chunks of tomatillos, so I chopped them quite small with a food processor.

Chicken and Tomatillo Soup
(about 8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn)

8 cups homemade chicken stock (or use canned chicken broth)
1 can diced tomatoes (I prefer Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes)
2 tsp. chile powder, or more to taste (I used ancho chile powder from Penzeys.)
1 onion, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp. dried oregano (preferably Mexican oregano)
2 T (or more) diced canned green chiles (I used Anaheim chiles, not jalapenos. Freeze the rest of the can for another time)
2 cups finely chopped tomatillos (about 8 tomatillos, remove husks, coarsely chop, then use food processor to finely chop tomatillos)
4 cups cooked chicken, diced in 1 inch pieces
2 cans pinto beans, not drained
1/2 – 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


In large soup pot, combine chicken stock, canned tomatoes with juice, chile powder, chopped onion, oregano, green chiles, and finely chopped tomatillos. Simmer about 30 minutes, until onions and tomatillos are cooked and soup flavors are blended.

Add diced chicken and pinto beans with juice and simmer about 45 minutes. Turn off heat and add 1/2 – 1 cup finely chopped cilantro, if using. Serve immediately. Garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired.

(If you’re a South Beach dieter, you may be surprised to see a recipe with beans for phase one, but actually beans are considered a “good carb” on South Beach and they’re allowed for phase one, especially a dish like this where it’s not all beans.)

More delightful tomatillo recipes:
Cafe Rio Dressing, Chicken and Rice from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Tomatillo Salsa Verde from Simply Recipes
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa from Mental Masala

Chilled Tomatillo Gazpacho from Gourmetish
Salsa Fresca from Bakingsheet
Grilled Swordfish with Tomatillo Salsa Verde from Beyond Salmon
Chile Verde from Meathenge
Turkey on Pita with Tomatillo Sauce from A Veggie Venture
Joey and Karina’s Fall Spinach Bake from Gluten Free Goddess
Chicken California from Fresh Approach Cooking
Ninfa’s Green Sauce from Homesick Texan
Wild Mushroom Quesadillas from One Hot Stove
Turkey and Tomatillo Soup from Je Mange la Ville
Green Gazpacho from Christine Cooks

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25 comments on “Chicken and Tomatillo Soup”

  1. Melissa, glad you liked it. You might try low sodium chicken broth if you used canned broth. I think that has more salt than the beans, and rinsing beans might also help.

  2. My husband devoured 2 bowls (he's not on plan)!!!! I really liked it but it seemed to salty to me. I usually drain and rinse my beans. I may try that next time. I really enjoyed the tomatillos though. I've never cooked with them before. Will def make again! You are making it soooooooo easy for me to stick with South Beach! Bless you!!!! 😉

  3. Melissa, I do moderate the comments, so when people are really out there, I just don't publish it. The later books do have much more extensive lists of foods that are allowed, which has helped. Hope you like the soup.

  4. I think you should eliminate anonymous comments. They can be so rude when they're not claiming their comment. Yuck!

    This looks awesome. I'm putting it on my menu for the week. I'm in Phase 2 now so I don't care about all the hoopla. 😉

  5. Tomatoes of all varieties and tomatillos are fruits which are used as vegetables, and I'm quite sure both are allowed for phase one, as is lemon juice and lime juice.

  6. Tomatillo is a fruit. Fruit is not allowed in Zone One.

  7. Anonymous, I’m not sure what to think. In the little book where foods are rated as *good*, *limited*, or *avoid* pinto beans are rated as good and show pretty much the same carb count as other beans and legumes. In the listings by phase, it under vegetables and legumes, it says beans are allowed for phase one. But I do see where you’re reading “reintroduce in phase two” and it lists pinto beans and black-eyed peas (which are also not any higher in carbs than other beans listed.) There are other beans much higher in carb count. This is a soup where there is more veggies and chicken than beans, so I think I’d still assume it was ok. If you were on phase one and weren’t losing weight, I’d cut out all beans, not just pinto beans. And I would not recommend something like refried beans or hummus for phase one where it’s pure beans.

  8. Anonymous, thanks for the feedback. I hadn’t noticed that about the pinto beans, although I’m not sure why they would be different? I have noticed there are some inconsistencies in the book on a few things, but I read somewhere that Dr. Agatston changed his mind on a few things, so later editions of the book are different. For example, at first they did not allow tomatoes on phase one. I’ll definitely check on this and see what I find out.

  9. while it does say you can have beans in phase one, I don’t think you can have pinto beans. In phase two of the book it says you can reintroduce pinto beans. So I think black beans would be a better choice. The book is a little unclear about which beans you can and can’t have.

  10. As I mentoned in the round-up I’ve never seen this in Australia or cooked with them. They sound great and i must keep my eye out. The round-up is up although I had some problems with the logo and pics and had to go without them.
    Hope the pipes have defrosted – we used to live in a cottage in England where that happened. It was a real pain.

  11. I didn’t know tomatillos and I’m not sure they are sold in France. But they sound interesting.

  12. Hi, I have been seeing your comments on Mimi’s site and thought I’d stop over for a visit. This soup recipe is going into my binder for sure! Lovely photos and yummy sounding recipe. This week’s agenda!

  13. I like tomatillo! Always keep some just in case… and they stay in good condition much longer than tomato. The photos you took really excellent! Always can sniff that tangy and cilantro-y smell here!

  14. Oh, how I love tomatillos! It is probably my favorite “new” veggie that I discovered in the US. Thanks for all the links (and for including mine!) 🙂

  15. Oh yeah, our pipes were frozen this morning – from a figid 26F….above zero, not below. These old French houses were not built for a Minnesota winter!

  16. That’s what tomatillo’s are! I never really knew. I love ‘ground cherries’.
    All of the soups look wonderful!
    We had snow yesterday so I’m making soup this weekend, too. Just don’t know what kind yet…I’ve seen so many good recipes lately!

  17. I can NEVER find tomatillos near me!

  18. What’s in my fridge? Cilantro? Check. Fresh tomatillos? Check. Chicken stock? Check. Hatch green chiles? Check! I am SO making this soup tonight as it has ALL of my favorite ingredients! (And I hope your water is running again soon!)

  19. This sounds fantastic! I love tomatillos, but had never cooked with them until Elise at Simply Recipes posted a Tomatillo Salsa Verde that is super delicious and incredibly easy. If you have not tried it yet, you must do so. I will never buy jarred salsa verde again.

    Love your blog and I truly thank you for all of the great South Beach info and recipes. I like being able to get the opinion of someone who has tried the recipes rather than the oftentimes “hit or miss” chance you take when you try a new one.

  20. Tomatillo sure are not green tomatoes and I do love them. This looks really great.

  21. Karina, you are right about one thing. Winter sucks. It’s now 9:00 at night and I haven’t had water for 24 hours!

    Lydia, the canned ones are not bad, especially in long-cooking things like chile verde, but the fresh ones are so tart and delicious.

    Arfi, thanks for visiting. Lucky you to be growing tomatoes.

    WP, thanks. It was pretty yummy, if I do say so myself!

  22. Kalyn, your soup looks so yummy! Love it!p

  23. briliant colors!! i haven’t tried tomatillos yet. our tomatoes are still growing.

  24. We don’t see fresh tomatillos too much in the markets here in the northeast during the winter, but a number of friends are growing them in their gardens next summer. I’ll save this recipe.

  25. Oh very yum! What gorgeous color – your photos are fab, Kalyn. I must make this soon = I need comfort food. [Winter sucks!]


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