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Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

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Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup, ladled over the tortilla chips, and garnished with queso fresco and cilantro, is amazing! A. Ma. Zing. This easy slow cooker recipe is on my family’s list of Fall/Winter Go-To Recipes.

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup, ladled over the tortilla chips, and garnished with queso fresco and cilantro.


This recipe requires a little prep work, but that’s all done on the front end. This recipe DID came from the America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution Cookbook.  Friends, I am telling you, you really NEED this cookbook.

Since I have tried this particular recipe, I’m going to share with you my frugal tips that will help you save a little money, because not wasting food is important, not only at my house, but for the planet as well.  Wasted food is wasted money, and every little bit helps.

Frugal Tips to Help You Save Money 

A Tip In Regard to Tomato Paste:

This recipe calls for one tablespoon of tomato paste. Don’t you just hate to open up one of those cans of tomato paste, only use a little bit, and have to either throw the can out,  or have the remains rot in your fridge?

Here’s my tip: of course, you could always buy tomato paste in a tube, if you can find it (it’s usually in the Italian section of my grocery store), but that’s a bit more of an expensive way to do it.

Instead, here’s what I do. Spread out a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Dollop approximate 1 tablespoonful of tomato paste globs on it. You can be exact on the first one, and eyeball the rest. Stick it in the freezer for an hour or so, as is, to firm up. (Don’t forget about it!)

Then cut those portions into squares (I just leave it on the wax paper: that’s fine. It peels off). And label your zip lock bag “Tomato Paste”. And now you have 1 T. blobs of tomato paste, pre-measured and handy, in your freezer.

(A lot of the recipes in this book actually call for 1 T. of tomato paste. You add it to the sautéed onions and spices: the aromatics. It sweetens the aromatics, and adds a depth of flavor)

No waste, and convenience in the future! Yay!

A Tip in Regard to Canned Chipotle Chiles in Adobo Sauce:

Do the same thing with you did with tomato paste, to the canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. I don’t know about you, but several times a year, I run into a recipe that calls for these hot, sweet, smoky little gems that are just PACKED with flavor and aroma. They really are an integral part of whatever recipe you have that calls for them.

Don’t leave them out of the recipe, if they’re an unfamiliar ingredient to you. The flavor they brings makes all the difference. I find them in the Latino section of my grocery store, or with the Mexican foods.

So, if you are buying these for the first time, open the can, use what you need for the recipe you are making, and then freeze what’s left in the can on wax paper on a cookie sheet and store them in a ziplock bag labeled chipotle peppers. You will be so glad you have these. They are powerhouses of flavor. Even if they’re still frozen when you take them from the freezer, they’re almost easier to mince in the frozen state.

Consider Making Your Own Homemade Chicken Stock from Chicken Bones you Save:

Save every chicken bone/turkey bone that comes your way, in a bag, in the freezer. (I also save the hearts and necks that come inside the chicken or turkey as well.) When you accumulate enough, make your own Homemade Chicken Stock. Click that link to read my recipe: its fantastic, with a spice you may not have thought of adding, that brings great flavor and aroma!  

Homemade Chicken or Turkey Stock is so much better than store bought. I made this tortilla soup out of part stock from a box that I bought at Costco, but part homemade turkey stock that I had frozen in the freezer, awaiting my next momentous soup occasion. Man, there’s nothing like your own stock to pack flavor into a soup. And, it’s a thriftier way to do it.

This recipe calls for 8 cups of chicken broth. That’s two boxes. So, I ended up using one box, and one frozen container of my own stock, and felt virtuous knowing that all those bones had brought real life and flavor to my tortilla soup.

Adjust the level of heat to your family’s taste preferences:

Call me a lightweight, but I don’t think this soup needs all the chipotle and jalapeño peppers that the original recipe calls for. Therefore, my version of this recipe has less jalapeño, and less chipotle. Basically, I minced only one jalapeño (their recipe called for two), and the fresh uncooked stuff that they wanted me to add at the end, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving? I didn’t.
So, adjust the level of heat in this recipe to suit  your family’s taste. If you taste the soup at the end, and you like more heat, add another teaspoon of minced jalapeño, of minced chipotle, and check to see if you want to add any salt or pepper, and then let the soup sit for 5 minutes while your additional peppers warm up. Mine didn’t need one. single. bit. of anything else added.

Use a Food Processor to Pulse the Onion:

Since the onion needed to be minced, which means very finely chopped, I quartered it, and then pulsed it in the food processor till I reached the fineness I liked. If you run the food processor rather than pulsing it, you’re more likely to end up with an onion moosh, which you don’t want.

I minced the jalapeño by hand WEARING DISPOSABLE GLOVES, but then added those bits to the onions I had pulsed. The original recipe called for 6 garlic cloves, but I added much more. How bad can a lot of garlic be, after all?

My kids BEGGED to take the leftovers for their lunches at their tutorial today. I gave it up, albeit grudgingly. (Actually, it warmed my heart that they were so excited to take it. It smells so good that it is going to kill their classmates when they catch a whiff!)
Without further ado, here’s the wonderful recipe for soup. I think you (and your family) will LOVE it!

Smoky Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup #chicken #tortillasoup #soup #slowcooker #comfortfood

The Recipe for Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

Yield: 8 servings

Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

A spicy, tomatoey broth overflowing with tasty garnishes and tender shredded chicken.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes


  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and chopped, OR 1 14 oz. can diced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced (I always wear gloves for this!)
  • 8-10 garlic cloves, depending on size of cloves and your family’s preference, minced
  • 1 T. minced canned chipotle chile in adobo
  • 1 T. tomato paste
  • 8 c. chicken broth (I used half store bought, half homemade)
  • 10 cilantro stems, tied together with twine
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 c. crushed tortilla chips
  • 8 oz. crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) or shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges, for serving


  1. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tomatoes, onion, and jalapeño and cook until onion is softened and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, chipotles, and tomato paste and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 c. broth, scraping up any browned bits; transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Stir remaining 7 c. broth and cilantro stems into slow cooker. Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker. Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on low. (Mine only took 4 hours.)
  3. Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-size pieces. Let soup settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Discard cilantro stems.
  4. Stir in shredded chicken, and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add any additional seasonings (chipotle or jalapeño peppers, or salt and pepper) according to your taste, at this point. Place tortilla chips in serving bowls, ladle soup over top, and serve with cheese, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and lime wedges.

Slow Cooker Recipes You'll Love

If you're reading this recipe, chances are you enjoy using your slow cooker. Here are a few more recipes you can easily do in your slow cooker, with fantastic results!


Linda Stevens Jones

Wednesday 21st of September 2016

I can't wait to try this! Our weather is supposed to finally turn cool and fall-like next week, so I'll be making it then!


Wednesday 21st of September 2016

YUM! I only wish we could share a bowl in person!


Monday 23rd of November 2015

I made this for dinner tonight, and my hubby, who isn't usually a fan of tortilla soup, practically raved about it. Definitely a keeper!

I skipped the cilantro, because we are among those who find it tastes soapy. I also skipped the jalapeño but added a couple of Anaheim peppers because I had some I needed to use up. The chipotle made it the right warmth for us. I also added a little corn for a touch of sweetness.

Susan Williams

Tuesday 24th of November 2015

So glad you enjoyed it! Adding corn is a great idea!!!


Monday 25th of August 2014

This is a delicious recipe, I just made it last night. Love the sour cream, it goes so well with everything.


Thursday 7th of November 2013

Love tortilla soup! The recipe I have uses finely chopped corn tortillas sautéed with the onions. I also freeze small quantities of foods, but I use a silicon muffin pan or mini-muffin pan (depending on how much food I'm freezing). I freeze homemade pizza sauce in mini loaf pans so they stack neatly. Because I need at least one neat in my life:)

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