Mexican chicken soup, also known as sopa de pollo, is a hearty and flavorful soup made with chicken, vegetables, and Mexican spices. It’s a popular comfort food that is nourishing and satisfying. But how many calories are actually in a bowl of this tasty soup?
The total calories in a bowl of Mexican chicken soup can range from 200 to 500 calories or more depending on the specific ingredients and portion size. A typical one cup serving made with chicken broth, tomatoes, onions, carrots, chicken, cilantro, and seasonings contains around 200-300 calories.
Calculating Calories in Mexican Chicken Soup
The total calories in Mexican chicken soup depends on the specific ingredients used in the recipe and the serving size. Here are some of the main factors that determine the calorie count:
The type of chicken and amount used significantly impacts the calories. A 3 ounce portion of cooked chicken breast contains around 140 calories while the same amount of chicken thigh has about 170 calories. So the more chicken included, the more calories there will be.
Using a lower sodium chicken broth as the base adds minimal calories, around 15 calories per cup. Broths made with cream or coconut milk will be higher in calories.
Common vegetables in the soup like onions, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and peppers are low calorie, providing only 25-50 calories per cooked cup. Starchy veggies like corn or potatoes add 100-150 calories per cup.
If the recipe includes beans like pinto, black or kidney, they contribute about 110-130 calories per half cup serving when cooked. Skip the beans to lower the calorie count.
Tortillas or Garnishes
Corn tortilla strips, avocado, cheese, sour cream, and other garnishes all add extra calories. For example, a 1 ounce serving of shredded cheddar cheese has 110 calories.
Any oils used to saute the aromatics like onion, garlic, and peppers will add about 120 calories per tablespoon. Go easy on oil to limit the calories.
A large bowl with 2-3 cups of soup will have significantly more calories than a smaller 1 cup serving. Pay attention to portion sizes when calculating calories.
Calories in Common Mexican Chicken Soup Recipes
To give a better idea of the actual calorie counts, here are some estimates for common Mexican chicken soup recipes based on typical ingredient amounts and nutrition data:
Easy Mexican Chicken Soup
A 1 cup serving of a simple soup made with chicken broth, onion, carrots, tomatoes, chicken breast, cilantro, and seasonings has around 220 calories.
Authentic Mexican Chicken Pozole
A hearty pozole with hominy, chicken thighs, onion, garlic, broth, chili powder, and cabbage averages about 350 calories per 1.5 cup serving.
Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup
A creamy chicken tortilla soup with broth, onions, peppers, tomatoes, corn, chicken breast, tortilla strips, avocado, and cheese has around 425 calories in a 1.5 cup serving.
Loaded Mexican Chicken Soup
A loaded soup with chicken broth, potatoes, carrots, peppers, black beans, corn, heavy cream, chicken sausage, cheese, and tortilla chips has about 475 calories per 2 cup serving.
Spicy Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup
A spicy version with broth, tomatoes, onion, chiles, cilantro, rice, beans, chicken thigh, cheese, and lime averages around 325 calories per 1.5 cup serving.
Factors That Increase Calories
While simple Mexican chicken soups have 200-300 calories per serving, the total can go up substantially if you add more high calorie ingredients like:
- Using chicken thighs instead of breasts
- Adding beans, rice, or pasta
- Including starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn
- Using fatty cuts of chicken with skin
- Adding heavy cream or coconut milk
- Topping with lots of cheese, avocado, tortilla chips
- Frying tortilla strips in oil instead of baking
- Using large portion sizes like 2-3 cups
To keep the calories moderate, stick to broth-based soups made with lean chicken, lots of non-starchy vegetables, and minimal oils or heavy creams. Also pay attention to portion sizes.
Lower Calorie Options Under 300 Calories
You can make delicious Mexican chicken soup with less than 300 calories per serving by:
- Using chicken breast without skin
- Choosing a low sodium chicken broth
- Loading up on non-starchy veggies like onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage
- Skipping higher calorie additions like rice, beans, corn, potatoes
- Limiting oils, creams, and fatty meats
- Going easy on salty tortilla chips, cheese, and avocado garnishes
- Sticking to a 1-1.5 cup portion size
With these tweaks, you can keep the calories to 200-300 per serving and still enjoy flavorful Mexican chicken soup.
Sample 300 Calorie Mexican Chicken Soup Recipe
Here is an example of a tasty Mexican chicken soup you can make with around 300 calories per 1.5 cup serving:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
- 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (4 oz) can diced green chiles
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and jalapeno. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Add chicken broth, tomatoes, green chiles, spices, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add chicken and cook for 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove bay leaf. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1.5 cups):
This light but flavorful soup comes in at just under 300 calories per generous 1.5 cup serving. It’s full of nutritious ingredients like chicken, vegetables, and beans but skips higher calorie add-ins to keep the calorie count down.
High Calorie Mexican Chicken Soup Add-Ins to Avoid
While the soup recipe above keeps things relatively lean, you can easily increase the calories by adding in higher calorie ingredients like:
- Chicken with skin – adds about 50 more calories per serving
- Thighs instead of breasts – adds around 30 more calories per serving
- 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend – adds 110 calories
- 1/4 cup sour cream – adds 60 calories
- 1/4 cup rice – adds 60 calories
- 1/4 cup canned black beans – adds 110 calories
- 1/4 cup canned corn – adds 60 calories
- 1/4 cup diced avocado – adds 60 calories
- 1 oz crumbled Mexican chorizo – adds 85 calories
- 15 baked tortilla chips – adds 140 calories
Just adding a few of these ingredients quickly pushes up the calorie count by 200, 300, or even 400 calories. To keep the calories moderate, it’s best to limit high calorie add-ins.
How to Adjust Portion Size for Calorie Needs
Portion size has a significant impact on calories and nutrition. Here are some tips for adjusting portions based on your calorie needs:
- Women – A 1 cup serving provides around 200 calories
- Men or Teen Boys – Aim for a 1.5-2 cup portion with 300-400 calories
- Active Individuals – Can size up to 2-3 cups and 400-500 calories
- Trying to Lose Weight – Stick to 1 cup or less for ~200 calories
The great thing about soup is that it’s easy to increase or decrease the portion size. Listen to your hunger cues and eat a portion that satisfies without overeating.
Tips for Reducing Calories in Mexican Chicken Soup
Here are some easy tips for lightening up Mexican chicken soup:
- Use reduced sodium chicken broth
- Skip added oils and fats
- Increase non-starchy vegetables like zucchini, spinach, cabbage
- Use plenty of seasoning from garlic, onion, peppers, cumin, chili powder
- Stick to lean chicken breast without skin
- Limit or avoid cheese, sour cream, avocado garnishes
- Avoid frying tortilla strips, opt for baked
- Rinse canned beans to reduce sodium
- Use smaller portion sizes
With these easy swaps and tips, you can lighten up this comforting soup without losing any of the delicious Mexican flavor.
Should You Be Concerned About Calories in Mexican Chicken Soup?
In general, there’s minimal reason to be concerned about calories in homemade Mexican chicken soup, as it can be a healthy and well-balanced meal. Chicken soup made with lots of vegetables, lean protein, fiber from beans, and antioxidant-rich ingredients like tomatoes offers many nutritional benefits.
The calorie count is also very reasonable at 200-300 calories for regular portion sizes. This fits into a healthy calorie budget for many people. Furthermore, the combination of protein, fiber, and nutrients helps promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction.
However, be mindful of higher calorie pre-made or restaurant versions that can run 500-800+ calories per serving when loaded with chips, creamy ingredients, cheese, and fatty meats. Watch portion sizes of these soups and try making healthier homemade versions when you can.
Overall, moderate calorie homemade Mexican chicken soups can be an excellent choice as part of a healthy, balanced diet. The nutrition far outweighs concerns over calories for most people.
Mexican chicken soup can range from around 200 calories up to 500+ calories depending on the specific recipe and serving size. Some key factors that increase the calories include using chicken with skin, adding high calorie ingredients like cheese, beans, rice, creamy ingredients, and large portion sizes.
To keep the calories reasonable at 200-300 per serving, opt for lean chicken, plenty of non-starchy vegetables, and broth-based soups without heavy creams or oils. Limit high calorie garnishes and stick to a 1-1.5 cup portion. With these tips, you can enjoy flavorful and nutritious Mexican chicken soup without worrying about your calorie intake. While restaurant versions may be higher in calories, moderate homemade soups can fit into a healthy diet.