It is cold here in Tennessee today! Over the last few days, we have gotten a chilling cold front and several inches of snow. I will admit my New Mexico heart misses the long snowy winters of the Rocky Mountains and the Sande De Christos. So, when it snows here, I go into baking and cooking mode, much like my grandmother when I was a child. She, too, was a homesteader, but that is another story for another day.
On cold days like this, when the world grows quiet under the snow, I long for a warm, comforting bowl of soup. The soup that my family seems to be obsessed with these days is my Chicken Tortilla Soup.
This recipe is quite versatile as I have made it on the stovetop, crockpot, and instant pot. I have also made it vegetarian as well. I will include all the ways to make it below. I also love that this soup freezes beautifully for future meals too!
Some of my recipes on my blog are a bit loose since I cook without measuring, or as my husband says, I am the hands of my ancestors cooking through me.
Ingredients for the Chicken Tortilla Soup
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 to 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 medium to large red onion, diced
- 1 Red, yellow, or orange bell pepper diced
- 3 to 5 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 can of sweet corn kernels or 1 to 1 ½ cup frozen
- 1 can of black beans or Pagan’s black beans
- 1 can red enchilada sauce
- 1 can green enchilada sauce
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon Better Than Bullion Chicken or Vegetable
- 1 package of taco seasoning or 3 tablespoons of homemade taco seasoning
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Black pepper to your taste
- 4 to 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ to 1 cup almond milk, milk, or heavy cream
- ¼ cup corn starch
Toppings That Are Great on the Soup
- Corn Tortilla Chips or Baked Tortilla Strips
- Diced Tomatoes
- Sliced Jalapenos
- Sour Cream
- Shredded Cheese
- Chopped Cilantro Leaves
To make this vegetarian, use cooked chickpeas or brown lentils instead of chicken. You could use red lentils, but we find they get too soft for this soup.
If you decide to make this vegetarian, I can only recommend the stovetop method since that is the only way I have made it vegetarian.
Directions for the Stovetop
In a 5-to-7-quart Dutch oven, add your chicken breasts and enough water to cover them. A large soup pot works well if you don’t have a cast-iron Dutch oven, but a cast-iron Dutch oven is so versatile! Here is the one we use and love! Cover and bring them to a boil. This can take 15 to 30 minutes depending on your chicken breasts’ size and if they are fresh or frozen. When your chicken is done, take the breasts out, set them aside in a bowl, and dump out the cooking liquid. Make sure you use sturdy oven mitts or potholders since cast iron gets very hot.
Put your pot back on the stove over medium heat and add your oil to the pot. Once your oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers, and sauté them until the onions become soft and translucent. Add your garlic to the mixture and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
Add in your tomato paste and better than bullion and stir and let it cook for roughly about a minute. Make sure you stir continuously so it doesn’t burn. Add a bit of your stock and gently scrape up any stuck bits.
Begin to add your black beans, corn, tomatoes, green and red enchilada sauces, and seasonings to the pot and stir well before covering everything with stock. Bring everything to a low simmer. While everything simmers, shred your chicken. We love to shred ours with an electric hand mixer in a bowl. Add it to the pot once your chicken is shredded to your liking. Allow everything to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes minimum. You can simmer this for up to an hour if you prefer. The flavors will develop the longer it is on a low simmer.
About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, add your milk to the pot. We prefer a bit of a thicker broth, so mix up your corn starch into a slurry with cool water and add it to the pot. After five minutes, if it is still not thick enough to your liking, feel free to add a bit more corn starch slurry.
Once it is thick enough, give it a taste test and see if it needs additional seasoning. I wait until this stage to add in my salt if needed.
Serve it up with any toppings you desire. We prefer corn chips, sour cream, and cheese, but this soup is also delicious by itself.
Directions for the Slow Cooker
In a frying pan over medium heat and add your oil to the pan. Once your oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers, and sauté them until the onions become soft and translucent. Add your garlic to the mixture and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and fragrant. Once this is done, add them to your slow cooker. Here is the slow cooker we love!
Begin to add your black beans, corn, tomatoes, green and red enchilada sauces, chicken, tomato paste, better than bullion, and seasonings to the pot and stir well before covering everything with stock. Turn your slow cooker to low and cook for 6 to 8 hours. You can also cook this on high for 4 to 5 hours.
About 20 to 30 minutes before you are ready to serve, add your milk and corn starch slurry and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Give a taste test to see if additional seasonings such as salt are needed and add them. Once it is to your liking, serve it up with your favorite toppings.
Directions for the Instant Pot
This recipe is wonderful in the instant pot! Here is the one we love!
Turn on your instant pot to sauté. Add your oil to the pot. Once your oil is hot, add in the onions and peppers, and sauté them until the onions become soft and translucent. Add your garlic to the mixture and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft and fragrant.
Begin to add your black beans, corn, tomatoes, green and red enchilada sauces, chicken, tomato paste, better than bullion, and seasonings to the pot and stir well before covering everything with stock. Put on the lid, turn the lever to sealing, and turn the instant pot to manual pressure—Cook for 5 minutes on high pressure for fresh chicken breasts and 14 minutes for frozen chicken breasts. Allow for natural release for 10 minutes.
Once it is done, shred your chicken breasts and add them back to the pot. Add in your milk and corn starch slurry and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add any additional seasonings if needed, such as salt.
Once it is to your liking, serve with your favorite toppings.
This chicken tortilla soup is one of our favorite soups to make during the cold months, and we love making big batches of it to put in the freezer for those chilly days when you don’t feel like cooking.
If you want to freeze this soup, I recommend using these containers. They are perfect. Make sure you leave a bit of headspace for it to expand during freezing. You can thaw them in the refrigerator overnight and heat it in a sauce or soup pot on the stove.
We would love to hear how you enjoyed this soup!