Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

$9.79 recipe / $1.63 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.90 from 46 votes
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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’ soup.

A bowl of Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup next to limes, avocado, and cilantro

Chicken to Soup Ratio

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).

It’s All About the Toppings!

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. A little squeeze of fresh lime juice on top also takes this soup to the next level!

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. :)

How to Store Chicken Tortilla Soup

After cooking your soup, make sure to divide it into single portions before refrigerating. This helps it cool down faster in the refrigerator, which will extend its lifespan. You can keep the chicken tortilla soup in the refrigerator for about 4-5 days, or you can freeze it for longer storage (about 3 months). Make sure to add your toppings fresh after reheating.

Close up of a spoonful of Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with the bowl in the background.

Love slow cooker recipes? Check out my full line up in the Slow Cooker Recipe Category.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

4.90 from 46 votes
This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. 
This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup offers a deep, comforting, smoky flavor with simple ingredients and minimal effort. BudgetBytes.com
Servings 6 about 1.5 cups each
Prep 10 mins
Cook 4 hrs
Total 4 hrs 10 mins

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 ground cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) ($0.02)
  • freshly cracked black 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 

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

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Equipment

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.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5CupsCalories: 369.12kcalCarbohydrates: 44.55gProtein: 22.75gFat: 12.12gSodium: 1601.85mgFiber: 10.42g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Front view of a bowl of Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla soup with all the toppings.

How to Make Chicken Tortilla Soup in a Slow Cooker – 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 in slow cooker

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…

Overhead view of a bowl of Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup with all the toppings and a gold spoon in the bowl.

After ladling the soup into your bowls, add a handful of the toasty tortilla crisps, and any additional toppings you like. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lime over top and enjoy!

Someone taking a spoonful of Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup out of the bowl.

 

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  1. Made this for dinner tonight and it was SO delicious. Thank you for a great recipe! 

  2. I had a nasty sinus infection an for me the only comfort soup has always been the old stand-by chicken noodle soup. This by far was an amazing change. My husband an I both loved it. We are fighting for the leftovers as we speak. 

  3. Ridiculously easy! Everyone loved this soup, myself included. Definitely liked adding the lime juice at the end and the sour cream. Next time I’ll try to have some avocado handy. Made the tortilla strips and they turned out well. Tasty even without salt added. I’ll definitely make this one again.

  4. We made this for dinner tonight and it is unreal! We’ll be adding it to our weekly rotation! 

  5. So easy and delicious! I made a double batch and froze half of it. My husband took one bite and said “this is fantastic!” This is definitely a great meal for busy week nights and for “meal trains” 

  6. Two for Two this week with your recipes :) So easy to make and my whole family loved it! I think my 10 year old had 3 bowls. Added avocado and a little dairy free cheese on top.

  7. Normally I love all the Budget Bytes recipes, but this one is a little lack lustre. I doubled the seasoning but still found it too bland. It was also very watery. Not my favourite recipe.

  8. Amazing! I love it. My only recommendation if you like corn with a little crunch is to add it at the very end :)

  9. This was my first time eating chicken tortilla soup. I followed the recipe exactly, including toppings. I thought the tortilla strips would get soggy once they were added but they stayed crispy. Obviously you’d want to keep them separate from leftovers though. 

    1. Only if they are thawed first. It’s not a good idea to put frozen meat in a slow cooker because it takes too long to come up to a safe temperature and may become a food safety hazard.

  10. Just made this for the first time today and it is delicious! Toppings definitely help finish the meal as the sour cream helps mellow out some of the spiciness and the tortillas add just a bit of salt and provide a unique texture. Somehow we ran out of black beans before making this and had to substitute in pinto beans but that didn’t detract anything from what I can tell. Definitely going to be remaking this again soon when it gets colder outside.