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Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

2011 February 22
by Mrs. FoodieLawyer

We love a good slow-cooker recipe during an especially busy week, and this is one of our favorites.  It’s so easy, I can actually make it by myself.  And it’s so delicious that we usually try to make a big enough batch to ensure we have extra to freeze some for another time.  (It thaws and re-heats really nicely.)   This recipe is pretty much everything we look for in a dinner-time soup. The ingredients are very simple:   chicken breasts, crushed tomatoes, enchilada sauce, chopped green chiles, garlic, onion, chicken broth, jalapenos, cumin, chili powder, bay leaf, salt & pepper.  When I made this soup, I put all the ingredients together in the slow-cooker that morning.  But one of the great things about this recipe is that you can mix together all the ingredients (other than the chicken) the night before and refrigerate the mixture overnight, if you want to save even more time.   Just don’t add the chicken until the morning you are going to cook the soup (we’re probably overly cautious when it comes to bacteria and proteins, but better safe than food poisoned!  Especially if I’m the one doing the cooking…)

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Speaking of me doing the cooking, this was a good reminder that I should always double-check the recipe.  In the ingredients photo, you’ll see a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  But the recipe actually calls for a 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes.  Oops.  If you are cooking something new or don’t cook that often, I highly recommend double-checking your ingredients against the recipe (especially helpful to do before you, for example, open a can of something that is twice as large as what is called for in the recipe.  Just sayin’).  Add the tomatoes (14.5 ounces worth) to the slow-cooker.

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Next add a can of enchilada sauce.  We usually use “medium” strength, but you can use “hot” if you like yours a little more spicy.

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Then add a can of chopped green chiles.

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Prepare the de-seeded and chopped jalapeno, chopped onion and minced garlic, then add them to the slow-cooker.

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Next add the spices:  cumin, chili powder, bay leaf and salt & pepper.

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Then add the chicken broth.

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Finally, add the chicken breasts (trimmed of any visible fat.  Just as the soup appears to be trimmed of any visible chicken breasts — those suckers sunk right to the bottom before I could get a photo.)

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Being mindful of the chicken and potential bacteria, cook the soup on high for about an hour first.  (Anyone else obsessively stare at the timer for that first minute to make sure the slow-cooker is on and working?  No?  Just me?)

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After an hour on high (or an hour and a half if you happen to get distracted by morning TV, blog-reading, what-have-you), switch the slow-cooker setting to low and cook the soup for 6-7 hours.

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After the soup is done, remove the chicken breasts and cut them up into bite-sized pieces.  Season the chicken with a generous pinch of salt & pepper.

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Put the chicken back in the slow-cooker and heat the soup on high for another 15 minutes or so.

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We usually garnish this soup with fried tortilla strips that we buy at our local grocery store.  Sadly, we couldn’t find them and don’t think they sell them anymore.  So we tried to substitute with tortilla chips.  It was ok, but not the same as the strips, which hold up much better in the soup.  Maybe next time we’ll try making our own…

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We serve our tortilla soup garnished with diced avocado, cheddar cheese and chopped cilantro.  A dollop of sour cream would be good too!

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

  • 14.5 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 10 ounce can red enchilada sauce
  • 8 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 32 ounce container of chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 jalapenos, de-seeded and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt & pepper to taste
For garnish:
  • chopped cilantro
  • grated cheddar cheese
  • cubed avocado
  • tortilla strips
  • dollop sour cream

Directions:
Combine soup ingredients in slow-cooker (all ingredients other than chicken can be combined ahead of time and refrigerated), then add chicken breasts and cook on high for 1 hour.  Reduce heat setting to low and cook for 6-7 hours.  Remove chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces, then season with salt & pepper.  Add the chicken back to the slow-cooker and re-heat on high for about 15 minutes.  Season with salt & pepper as needed.  Garnish as desired with cilantro, avocado, cheese, tortilla strips, and/or sour cream.

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15 Responses leave one →
  1. Matt permalink
    February 23, 2011

    Looks great Kelly! Did you open a new can? How did you manage to measure your diced tomatoes after opening that huge can?

    • February 23, 2011

      Thanks Matt! I have to confess, I panicked a bit when I realized my mistake and opened a new (correct size) can instead of figuring out how to use the big one. Upon reflection, I could have used our food scale to get the right amount from the big can — should have put a measuring cup or container on the scale, zeroed it out, then added 14.5 ounces of tomato. Live and learn…

      • Matt permalink
        February 23, 2011

        I probably would have done the same. Even with a scale, getting the right ratio of extra fluid to tomato would be tough. The other option would be to double the batch size, use the whole can and send the leftovers to your local friends!

        • February 24, 2011

          I like your option the best, my local friend! Next time. And next time I (probably) won’t panic – Dan has explained to me that the ingredients can be a bit flexible, especially when it comes to soup!

  2. Cary permalink
    February 26, 2011

    This looks so delicious and like something that the kids would try, too. They love tacos. Maybe, I could sell it as “taco soup”. I wonder if I should cut back on the jalepeno to keep the spice down for the little squirts…

    • February 26, 2011

      Hi Cary! We love the idea of “taco soup” for the kids — good thinking! You can easily leave out the jalepeno and the soup should still be delicious. It’s not all that spicy with the jalepeno — especially since we de-seed them first and they cook all day. But maybe better to just leave them out of a batch for the kids. We highly recommend the tortilla strips if you can find them because they add a nice crunch. If you can’t find them, maybe have the kids crunch up a taco shell in a bowl, then you can pour over the soup. Tortilla chips don’t hold up very well this way, but I think the taco shell would work (and they would have fun with the crunching!) Let us know if you guys make it!

  3. March 3, 2011

    Is there any reason you can’t cut the chicken up at the beginning, so you don’t have to fish them out and butcher them hot?

    • March 4, 2011

      The reason we cut up the chicken at the end is because we prefer smaller, shredded pieces in the finished soup. It’s easier to get that size/texture when the chicken has been cooking all day and is very tender. But you could certainly cut it up at the beginning if you’d prefer. Thanks for commenting!

  4. March 4, 2011

    What size crockpot does this recipe fill? I’m thinking of using it for an event I’ll be catering in June (I’m also a daytime lawyer, rest-of-time food lover, as you are). Thinking about making a large quantity – so easier not to have to fish out and shred the meat at the end.

    • March 5, 2011

      Our crockpot holds 6.5 quarts, but this recipe in the quantities we use only fills it about 1/3 of the way. Our recipe makes enough for 4-6 people. Hope that helps!

  5. Elise permalink
    November 19, 2013

    Hi Kelly! One of my Facebook friends (an audiologist in New York) posted a link to one of your recipes that looked fabulous. I clicked on it and I couldn’t believe that it was your blog…I worked at JD Dallas until August of this year when I left to be a stay at home mom. What a small world! I was really surprised to read that Dan had accepted a position at Kraft and that you were moving to the Chicago area. What an awesome adventure!

    This recipe looks great, I can’t wait to try it. I made the penne with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and chicken last week….wow. I will be making that again – it was SO good! I’m glad I found your blog. Now that I’m no longer billing hours, I have more time to spend in the kitchen – though with 3 little ones I’m somewhat confined to less complicated meals. 🙂

    Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

    Elise Ford

    • November 19, 2013

      Hi Elise! Small world indeed – that’s so cool how you found us! Thanks for the sweet comment and feedback – we love to hear when people try our recipes (especially when they like them 🙂 Hope you are enjoying your post-JD life – not billing hours is the best!

  6. Elise permalink
    November 19, 2013

    Do you think I could use chicken thighs in this recipe? Or should I use breasts? I already have thighs in my freezer. 🙂

    • November 19, 2013

      Absolutely – I think chicken thighs would work great. I generally prefer them over chicken breasts anyway – I think they have more flavor. If they have skin on, I would probably remove it. And bone-in would add even more flavor, just shred the chicken off the bone after the soup is done but before serving (obviously). Enjoy!

  7. Elise permalink
    November 23, 2013

    Best homemade chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever had! My husband loved it, too. And so easy. Yum!!

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