If you believe that avocado is THE prize topping for Tex-Mex (it’s practically my culinary creed!) this Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup may just be your new doctrine of deliciousness. Here, tortilla strips take center stage as a crunchy, salty, and all-out addictive counterpoint to the hearty, zesty, Tex-Mex filling beneath.
It stars juicy chicken breasts, filling beans, and a star line up of Mexican pantry spices, like chili powder and cumin. It is delish and worth every ounce of praise.
And while I love chili spices with cooling avocado, in the aptly named chicken tortilla soup, it’s the tortilla that stars.
Don’t get me wrong—we’re still adding avocado and a plethora of enticing topping options (see the “How to Top” section below), but those toppings are not here to mask a bland soup.
This slow cooker chicken tortilla soup can stand on its own; the toppings just take it above and beyond (and above and beyond is what we all deserve right now!).
Plus the consistency is perfecto. It’s thick enough to be substantial, with the right amount of rich broth to soak up the tortilla strips. This play of textures is one of the best parts of chicken tortilla soup.
How to Make This Recipe
If the ease of the slow cooker, simple ingredients, and fab flavors didn’t seal the deal, this healthy chicken tortilla soup is really good for you too! With lean chicken, beans, and veggies, it’s a nutritious meal designed to satisfy any night of the week.
- Chicken. Tender chicken breasts help pack protein into this soup. Plus, they soak up all the delicious soup flavors and spices as they simmer.
If you prefer, you can make slow cooker chicken tortilla soup with rotisserie chicken. Simply stir shredded cooked rotisserie chicken into the soup during the last 10 minutes.
- Bell Peppers. Chopped red and green bell peppers are a tasty and colorful addition to our crock pot chicken tortilla soup.
- Jalapeño. Adds a little freshness and spice without being overpowering.
- Crushed Tomatoes. These form the base of our hearty soup.
- Chipotle Chiles in Adobo. The chipotle chiles in adobo have smokiness and some spice and are KEY to the soup’s flavor. Please don’t skip them. This soup is flavorful but not an overtly spicy chicken tortilla soup (but for more kick, you can add some of the liquid from the can).
- Spices. Chili powder and cumin are the perfect combination for a warm and zesty flavor.
- Cornmeal. Thickens the soup.
- Beans. Makes the soup more hearty and adds a delicious textural element.
- Sauté the onion, jalapeño, and peppers with the spices.
- Pour the mixture into a slow cooker.
- Lay the chicken breasts over the top, then add the tomatoes, chiles, salt, and beans.
- Stir the cornmeal and part of the broth together, then pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
- Cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.
- Dice or shred the chicken.
- Return to the slow cooker to warm through. Serve with tortillas and other desired toppings. ENJOY!
Thickening Chicken Tortilla Soup
- This chicken tortilla soup is thickened via 3 tablespoons of cornmeal in the recipe.
- If you prefer your chicken soups with an even thicker consistency, start by adding only 2 cups of chicken broth to the slow cooker. You can then add the remaining 1 to 2 cups if the soup is too thick.
For those craving thickness and the alternative flavor of white chicken tortilla soup from the slow cooker, try this reader favorite Crockpot White Chicken Chili.
How to Top Your Chicken Tortilla Soup
While toppings cannot cover a bad chicken soup, they can elevate a great chicken soup to heavenly status.
Tortilla soup can be bad for you if you get carried away with toppings or choose toppings that are less nutritious. Take advantage of the below options for next-level taste and keep the soup wonderfully healthy:
- Tortilla Strips. Obviously. These crispy delights are the ONE non-negotiable (they make chicken tortilla soup, well, chicken tortilla soup!). They can be pre-made or, for the ultimate healthy chicken tortilla soup, you can bake your own from corn tortillas (see the directions below).
- Avocado. Need I say more?
- Greek Yogurt. This is a great healthy substitute in a Tex-Mex soup in place of sour cream. Just add a spoonful (or two!) and you’ll have the perfect slow cooker creamy chicken tortilla soup.
- Onion. Diced up red or green onions sprinkled on top add crisp and crunchy acidity.
- Jalapeños. Either sliced or pickled jalapenos can give a little zest.
- Cheese. Another worthwhile addition. Though you should use cheese in moderation if you want to keep this more on the healthy side. Sharp cheddar is my favorite here. Since it has bold flavor on its own, a little goes a long way.
Is there a more perfect “match made in heaven” than Tex-Mex and margaritas? I didn’t think so either. Try any of these refreshing margarita recipes with crock pot chicken tortilla soup:
- To Store. Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat or gently in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Plan Tip
Chop the onion, peppers, garlic, and jalapeno up to 1 day in advance.
Recommended Tools to Make Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
- Slow Cooker. Perfect for making this chicken tortilla soup.
- Ladle. Serve your soups with ease.
- Skillet. Great for sautéeing the ingredients in this recipe.
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
FOR THE SOUP:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 medium jalapeno seeded, membranes removed, and diced
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 2 cloves garlic minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon salt plus additional to taste
- 1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo chopped (**purchase these in a can and save the rest for another use; DO NOT use the whole can in this recipe!)
- 1 15-ounce can reduced sodium pinto beans rinsed and drained
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth divided
- 3 tablespoons cornmeal
- Corn tortilla strips or 6 small corn tortillas: see notes to make your own strips this is a must-have!
- Shredded Monterey jack cheese
- Diced avocado
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Lime slices
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, jalapeno, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Cook until the onion in softened, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer mixture from the skillet to the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Keep the skillet handy.
- Arrange the chicken breasts on top of the mixture in the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, chiles in adobo, salt, and pinto beans.
- Stir the cornmeal together with 3 cups of the chicken broth. Pour into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours, until the chicken is falling apart tender. Dice or shred the chicken, then return it to the slow cooker. Let cook on low for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.
- Taste and add salt or seasonings as needed. If the soup is thicker than you would like, add in the remaining 1 cup chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency.
- To serve: ladle into bowls. Top generously with tortilla strips and other toppings of choice.
- TO MAKE YOUR OWN TORTILLA STRIPS: Place a rack in the center of your oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Stack the tortillas and cut them in half, then slice each half into ½-inch strips. Place in a mixing bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them into a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through. If they aren’t quite as crisp as you’d like, give them a few more minutes. Set aside to cool.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate soup in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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