tortilla soup

I’m having an affair.

With my slow cooker.

It started out as a fling. An cheese dip here. A pot of chili there. But it quickly escalated into a full-fledged relationship. We were soon making pot roasts together. Cuban pork. Dinners good enough for (gasp!) entertaining.

My husband eventually found out.

He’s okay with it.

If you too are having a relationship with a kitchen appliance, then follow my lead and make this tasty, ridiculously easy tortilla soup.

I won’t tell.

Start with some chicken. Light or dark meat–just make it about 2 pounds worth, boneless, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1″ pieces, please.

Then grab some cilantro. Washed and dried. About 1 cup with stems removed, plus a few sprigs more for garnish.

Rummage through your pantry, or Hispanic food aisle, and find one can of green chilies.

Canned green chilies are probably called blasphemy in Santa Fe. But on my turf, I call them awesome.

Also grab one can cream of mushroom soup (it’ll keep the soup a bit creamy)…

…one can of red enchilada sauce…

…and one can of whole stewed tomatoes.

Also grab one yellow (or sweet) onion…

…and half a head of garlic.

Find yourself about a cup and a half of chicken stock. I cheat and make mine from bullion cubes. Because I’m lazy.

Finally, for spice, you’ll need one bay leaf and about a teaspoon each of cumin and cayenne.

Oh, and corn. One cup (or as much as you’d like) frozen or canned or fresh or freezer-burned.

Also have some tortillas on hand for later.

Throw the chicken in your slow cooker and season well with salt and pepper.

Pour in all the canned stuff, chicken stock, and the cilantro…

…and give it a stir.

Next, chop the onion and the garlic. I never do crazy fine chopping for slow cooker meals because it’s all about the flavor that the ingredients bring to the dish—not how they’re prepared. And also because…I’m lazy. But you already knew that.

Toss in the onion, garlic and corn…

…add your spices…

…and give it a good stir. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5.

Before serving, you’ll want to make some tortilla strips. Because, really, that’s the only reason it’s called tortilla soup, and not chicken-and-a-bunch-of-other-junk soup. Brush them lightly with oil and sprinkle on a little salt.

Toast under the broiler on a baking sheet for about 2 minutes a side, or until they’re crunchy and slightly browned.

Slice into 1/2″ strips.

By now, your soup should be looking and smelling deeelicious.

Serve topped with tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, and some fresh cilantro. You know, if you feel like it.

Husband likes his piled high with a little sharp cheddar. Okay, a lot of sharp cheddar.

Oh, this soup warms my tummy. It’s got just enough spice and a whole lotta chicken-y, corn-y, chile-y, tomato-ey goodness.

Make this sometime this week to warm up a chilly night.

Happy Tuesday!


Tortilla Soup

  • 2 pounds chicken, boneless, chopped into 1″ pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 can green chilies
  • 1 can whole stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole kernel corn
  • 4 tortillas
  • sour cream and grated cheese for topping (optional)

Combine first 13 ingredients in a slow cooker and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Brush tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and place on a baking sheet. Set oven to broil and place tortillas under broiler for 2 minutes per side, or until slightly brown and crunchy. Chop into 1″2 slices.

Serve soup sprinkled with tortilla strips and garnish with sour cream, cilantro, and grated cheese if desired.


  1. The photos look fabulous, as always! But chicken stock from boullion cubes? You make me weep. Chicken stock is one of those things that sounds intimidating but is actually absurdly easy to make and makes everything it touches SO much yummier. Here’s the link that got me started with making stock: He made it sound so easy, I had to try it, and I haven’t looked back. Even Christine, who hates to spend a lot of time cooking, has hopped on board and become our household’s primary stockmaker, so that should tell you something about how easy it is. Like he suggests, I use whole chickens and harvest the poached breast meat, turning it into curried chicken salad. Then I reduce and freeze the stock, popping it out of the freezer whenever I make soups or sauces.

    Incidentally, made a double batch of your cuban pork recipe for our New Year’s party and it was an enormous hit. All 6 pounds disappeared, with raves.

    • Oh, Peter. You are the Ebert and Roeper of my blogging existence. I realize that chicken stock is ridiculously easy to make–I just choose not to for most recipes, with a few exceptions. If I didn’t have a 2 foot by 2 foot freezer I would make it more often.

      Glad the pork was a hit πŸ™‚ Sorry I missed the party, but sounds like I took the cake anyway.

  2. I LOVE my slow cooker. I wouldn’t say that we are having an affair but we are definitely BFFs. I am a whole-hearted supporter of boullion cubes. I actually prefer them in my slow cooker recipes.

  3. I just got a new crockpot for Christmas and we’ve been having quite the little affair ourselves. I love that thing. I’m going to have try this recipe soon. Minus the onions because my husband is a big baby and won’t eat ’em.

  4. This sounds so, so good! I too love my slow cooker, but I find it hard to find recipes that aren’t chili or pot roast. This is right up our alley! Thanks!

  5. My girlfriend and I are planning to do this on Sunday. Something that occurred to me, though, that I intend to try….why bother chopping the chicken first? Tortilla soup always has that “pulled” look to it, traditionally. I’m thinking, just toss the meat in the pot, fish it out a little before you plan to serve it, pull / shred it, return to pot, heat through. (Or, even lazier, just de-meat a Costco rotisserie chicken and throw the meat in the pot at the end of the day and heat through.)

    • Someone more lazy-minded than I am. Thanks, Chris–you made my day πŸ™‚

      My theory behind the chopping the chicken first is that you won’t have to do it later on when it’s hot and harder to work with. You could add cooked chicken later but I think the chicken itself lends nice flavor to the soup.

  6. See, I hate cutting up raw chicken, even when I have a good knife for it. For me, it would be easier to toss it some thighs and breasts whole and pull / shred it later. Your point about adding cooked chicken is very well-taken, but it’s an option to adopt the recipe for those few sad souls without slow-cooking goodness. πŸ™‚

    At any rate, I’m very looking forward to Sunday. Mmmmm. πŸ™‚

  7. Report: We finally did this tonight, and I threw in the chicken in whole pieces (boneless, about half-defrosted) in the morning. When we got home from shopping, fished it out, shredded it with a couple of forks (it fell RIGHT apart; took maybe a minute), returned to soup. Worked like a champ, and it was delicious! (And the popovers my darling girlfriend made to go with them were spectacular, too. :))

  8. Carly Scott says:

    I love this recipe, I made it lastnight and my husband got two bowls! I felt I should try to add some beans next time. What would be a good bean to compliment this amazing soup?

  9. Well darn, now I’m going to have to go to the grocery store if I’m ever going to make this! Curse this laziness.

    Looks amazing though. Definitely will give it a try soon. (:

  10. Can you tell me how many servings this makes? Trying to decided if I need to double it or not for seven people! I’d like to have some leftover. Thanks!

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