Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Spring is kind of a strange time of year to be making soup, but I know at least some of you are still experiencing freakish January-style winter blizzards. Plus, this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is a clear broth soup, which actually makes it light enough to enjoy in warmer weather. Squeeze some lime on top, serve it with an ice cold margarita, and you won’t care what the weather is doing. Promise.

Like most slow cooker recipes, this Chicken Tortilla Soup is ridiculously easy and very forgiving, so it’s a great meal to prepare when you know you can’t give your full attention to the stove. If it goes a little longer than the prescribed cook time, it’s all good. Your meal won’t be ruined. This is a busy peoples’s soup.

In true Budget Bytes style I used only ONE chicken breast for the entire batch of soup. I know it sounds crazy, but I promise there is so much else going on in this soup that you won’t feel like you’re missing out. Once that chicken gets shredded and mixed back in, it looks like a lot of meat, and I promise, it’s guaranteed to be more meat per serving than any soup you’d get out of a can. But hey, if your budget affords, you can always double the meat if that’s your style (no other adjustments needed).

The broth of this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is deliciously smoky, a little spicy (although that’s adjustable), and surprisingly light. But the toasted tortilla strips are what really make it, so don’t skip those! The toasty corn flavor really rounds out the soup and makes it special. Toppings are always fun, and I’ve included some of my fav’s in the pricing below, but the soup and tortilla strips on their own also stand strong! So, adjust to your liking and budget. :)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com
4.89 from 18 votes
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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. 

Total Cost $9.79 recipe / $1.63 serving
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 about 1.5 cups each

Ingredients

Soup

  • 1 yellow onion $0.32
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 3/4 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $2.09
  • 1/2 Tbsp chili powder * $0.15
  • 1/2 tsp cumin $0.05
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional) $0.02
  • cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1 15oz. can fire roasted tomatoes $1.00
  • 1 10oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles $0.49
  • 1 15oz. can black beans $0.59
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels $0.38
  • 6 cups chicken broth** $0.78

Tortilla Crisps

  • 8 6-inch corn tortillas $0.75
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil $0.02
  • pinch salt $0.02

Optional Toppings

  • 1 avocado $1.50
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro $0.22
  • 6 Tbsp sour cream $0.48
  • 1 lime $0.69

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion, garlic, chicken breast, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, some freshly cracked pepper (about 10 cranks of a pepper mill), the fire roasted tomatoes (with juices), diced tomatoes with chiles (with juices), black beans (drained), corn, and chicken broth to the slow cooker.

  2. Give everything a brief stir, place the lid on the slow cooker, and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

  3. After cooking on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, carefully remove the chicken breast, shred it with a fork, then return it to the soup.

  4. To make the tortilla crisps, preheat the oven to 400ºF. Stack the tortillas, then slice them into strips that are approximately 1/4-inch wide and 2 to 3-inches long. Place the strips in a bowl, drizzle with cooking oil, and a pinch of salt. Gently toss the strips until they're completely coated in oil.

  5. Spread the oil coated tortilla strips over a baking sheet in a single layer, overlapping as little as possible. Bake them in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring once every five minutes, or until they are deeply golden brown and crispy. The total cook time will depend on the size of your strips and how crowded they are on the baking sheet, so watch them closely and adjust the cook time as needed.

  6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, top with a handful of the tortilla crisps, some chopped cilantro, a few slices of avocado, and a dollop of sour cream. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime over top just before eating.

Recipe Notes

* This chili powder is a mild blend of spices, not straight red chile powder.

** I use Better Than Bouillon to make my broth. If you're using a low sodium chicken broth, you may want to add a small amount of salt to the soup after cooking.

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com

Step by Step Photos

Onion Garlic Chicken and Spices in Slow Cooker

To begin, dice one yellow onion and mince two cloves garlic Place the diced onion, minced garlic, and one 3/4 lb. chicken breast in a slow cooker (6 qt size). You can use more or less chicken without adjusting anything else in the recipe. Sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and some freshly cracked pepper over top. You can leave the cayenne out if you want your soup mild, or if you’re using a spicier chili powder (every brand is a little different).

Corn Black Beans and Tomatoes

Also add 1 cup frozen corn kernels (no need to thaw), one 15 oz. can black beans (drained), one 15 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes (with juices), and one 10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chiles (with juices). The diced tomatoes with chiles are like Rotel tomatoes, but you can often find generic store brand versions as well. If you can’t find them at all, you can use two 15 oz. cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes, plus one 4 oz. can of diced green chiles.

Add Chicken Broth to Slow Cooker

Finally, add 6 cups chicken broth and give everything a brief stir. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours, or low for eight hours.

Cut Tortillas into Strips

While the soup is cooking, make the tortilla crisps. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Stack the tortillas and cut them into strips, about 1/4-inch wide and 2 to 3-inches long. 

Tortilla Strips Coated in Oil

Place the strips in a bowl, drizzle with 1 Tbsp cooking oil, and add a pinch of salt. Gently toss the tortilla strips until they’re completely coated in oil. Spread the oil coated tortilla strips out over a baking sheet in a single layer. Try to make them overlap as little as possible. The more they overlap the longer they’ll take to cook.

Toasted Tortilla Strips

Bake the tortilla strips for 10-15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so, or until they’re deeply golden brown and crispy. The cooking time can vary quite a bit depending on the size of the tortilla strips and how closely packed they are on the baking sheet, so watch them closely and adjust the cooking time as needed. Set the tortilla strips aside.

Cooked Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

After 8 hours it will look like this. The chicken will be very tender and easy to shred at this point…

Shredded Chicken for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Carefully remove the chicken breast, shred it with two forks, then stir it back into the soup.

Finished Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

And the Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup is essentially finished at this point. It’s always a good idea to give it a taste and adjust the salt if needed. But the real magic happens when you plate it up…

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com

After ladling the soup into your bowls, add a handful of the toasty tortilla crisps, and optional toppings like some fresh cilantro, a few avocado slices, or a dollop of sour cream. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime over top and enjoy!

This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com