This Crowd-Pleasing Chicken Tortilla Soup Is Made Mostly from Pantry Staples

published Mar 3, 2022
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When a recipe has been on steady rotation in someone’s family for almost fifteen years, take note. It might be something worth adding to your own repertoire. 

I first had this exceptional chicken tortilla soup at an old friend’s house. She was serving a crowd of about ten on a chilly winter afternoon, and, let me tell you, the soup was memorable. The flavor was layered, the spice was just right, the color was exquisite, and the whole dish was a blank canvas for each person to customize with their own favorite, just-right ratios of delicious toppings. 

If that all isn’t enticing enough, allow me to also add that the soup can be made in a slow cooker ahead of time and you probably have nearly all the ingredients in your pantry right now. Oh, and you can throw it together in about 20 minutes. 

This chicken tortilla soup is the crowd-pleasing answer to get-home-late soccer practice nights and casual gatherings with unexpected guests. My kids cheer for it and my friends request it. It’s a champion of meals and (as of this writing) 5,550 Allrecipes users agree. 

How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This recipe requires barely more work than tossing the ingredients into your slow cooker and hitting “Set.” Chop onions and then place chicken breasts, canned green chiles, garlic, enchilada sauce, and canned diced tomatoes into your slow cooker. Add in chicken broth and water, seasonings, a bag of frozen corn, chopped cilantro, and a bay leaf. Cook on low for 6–8 hours or high for 3–4. After your slow cooker finishes its job, shred the chicken. 

Before the soup is ready, oil corn tortillas, cut them into strips, and then bake them until crisp. 

My Honest Review

I love this soup. It isn’t one of those meals that kids love and adults will tolerate because the kids will eat it and it’s “good enough.” It really is delicious. Soul-warming and somehow cheerful, if a soup can be called that. Filling but light enough not to weigh you down, it’s a beautiful meal in a bowl that you won’t get sick of even after making it dozens of times. As I said, I got the recipe from someone else, and when I feed it to someone new, they inevitably ask me for it, too. 

5 Tips for Making Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

1. Double and freeze. Even though this recipe is so easy to make, it’s even easier to be able to simply heat some for dinner or lunch. I like to use these containers because they freeze leftovers in a shape that’s easy to re-heat in a pot. Bonus: This is a perfect way to share soup with the neighbor who just had surgery or the family who just welcomed a baby. 

2. Prepare toppings ahead of time. Getting your toppings ready ahead of time means getting dinner on the table will be as easy as setting everything out. Our family’s favorite toppings include chopped cilantro, finely diced red onions, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and a squirt of lime. And those tortilla strips, of course! 

3. An Instant Pot works perfectly. If you’re short on time or you don’t want to make the soup too far in advance, an Instant Pot works great. I even toss frozen chicken breasts into the Instant Pot, cook for an hour and a half instead of the usual 3–4, and the soup comes out perfectly. 

4. Shred the chicken while it’s in the soup. Your chicken will be so tender that shredding it is as easy as running a fork through it. I use two forks, one to hang on to the chicken and one to shred it, and do everything in the slow cooker or Instant Pot. This cuts down (even more) on dishes, making cleanup a total breeze. 

5. The baked tortillas are special, but chips work well, too.  The homemade taste and fun shape of the baked tortilla strips make for an exciting topping, and they taste so good! But if you’re not up to the extra step, break some chips over your soup for an equally crunchy topping for less work.