Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

March 4, 2015




I must admit, I’m always glad to bid farewell to February. I just think February is brutal, although March in Colorado isn’t much better. In fact, March is our snowiest month, but there’s something about February that makes it seem like the longest short month.

Mother Nature smiled on us the first two weeks of February with fairly mild temperatures, but she came back to bite our ass for the last two. The last two weeks were constant barrages of snowy, icy misery. We actually set a record this year for February snowfall, and if we managed to do that in two weeks instead of the usual four, you can probably get an idea how wretched those final weeks were.

Mama Nature’s sting was particularly felt by the Minxes, because our snowiest days happened on the weekends. Totally unfair! Record snowfall and not a single snow day to show for it? That just ain’t right. We had a few mornings of Minx bitterness, that’s for sure.

On some of those stormy, bone-chilling days, I questioned this whole “Let’s get a dog!” decision we made a year and a half ago. Most of the dog walking duties go to yours truly, and every time I had to bundle up like Nanuk of the North and shlep around the neighborhood in the freezing slop, I kinda cursed winter dog ownership.

Mozzy loves his walks in any season, although there were a couple of February days when even he wasn’t too excited to brave the elements. He’d twitch his nose and barrel out the door,  then stop in his tracks, stupefied. He’d look up at me as if to say, “Whaddaheck? It sucks out here!” He’d then find the nearest corner, piddle, and yank the leash to return to the warmth of the indoors. I didn’t complain on days like that.

The inclement weather means that I can’t partake in my daily 3-mile walks, and that’s been a bummer. I have something that I call my “old lady workout” that I do when I can’t get outdoors, consisting of some exercises with hand weights and resistance bands, but it’s a little monotonous and doesn’t give me that hit of fresh air and sunshine that I so need this time of year. Also, Mozzy is an annoying little turdball when I do my old lady workout, because every time I get on the floor to do pushups or abdominal crunches, he’s in my face, demanding that I stop what I’m doing and make out with him.

Can you imagine what he’d be like if I did yoga?

Thankfully, I’m far too uncoordinated to attempt anything involving a yoga mat, so I don’t have that problem.

As annoying as the Mozz-man has been on the exercise front, he’s been mighty good company when I spend time in the kitchen. I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen on these snowy days, and my little canine buddy is always in a nearby corner, quietly watching with interest or catching a wee nap.

On one of most miserable winter days, I broke out the slow cooker to try a recipe I found online for Chicken Tortilla Soup. I am a huge fan of tortilla soup–it’s one of my favorite things to eat when I need something warm and soul-satisfying. Plus, you get to jazz up your bowl of soup with all sorts of delectable treats: tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese, jalapenos, cilantro, avocado, you name it. Frankly, it’s the addition of the treats that gets me excited to tuck into a big old bowl.

I’d never made tortilla soup in the slow cooker, but since I was snowed in all day, why not? And I was pleased with the results. The recipe calls for skinless chicken thighs, because they don’t dry out like skinless breasts can, and I’d encourage you to do just that. Using chicken thighs is a bit of a pain, because there’s some extra work of trimming off the excess fat, but it’s worth the trouble.

I followed the recipe down to the letter, and then tasted it. It was delicious, but in my opinion, it didn’t have enough spice, so I added extra chipotle and chili powder to my batch. Feel free to taste and tinker as you like; next time, I might even add a small can of enchilada sauce to the slow cooker for extra oomph.

If you’re still feeling winter’s chill, a bowl of this soup–with all the fixin’s–will cheer you right up.




Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

serves 6

recipe by Jennifer Olvera


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1-2 jalapenos, chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup lager-style beer

2 bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1 (4-0unce) can diced green chiles

6 cups low sodium chicken stock

To serve: diced avocado, sliced green onion, chopped cilantro, sour cream, tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese and lime wedges


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When oil is hot, add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer chicken to the insert of the slow cooker.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion and jalapeno to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring and scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute. Add ancho chili powder, cumin and cocoa powder and cook about 30 seconds. Add beer, crank the heat and bring to a boil.

Transfer spice and beer mixture to the slow cooker. Add boy leaves, thyme, chipotle, tomatoes, tomato paste, cider vinegar, diced green chiles and chicken stock. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Cover and cook on the low setting at least 4 hours or until the chicken is fall-apart tender.

Discard bay and thyme. Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred meat and then return meat to slow cooker. Warm through and adjust seasonings if desired.

Serve in warm bowls with all of the fixings.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

C. Troubadour March 4, 2015 at 9:48 am

Clearly the solution is that you should use Mozzy as a hand weight.


This soup looks amazing. The plague that has been hanging out at our house since January has finally made it around to me, and I need some serious germ-clearing foodstuffs. I suppose mainlining sriracha is not a wise choice, but chiles in broth could be.


PamEla March 5, 2015 at 4:33 am

Everyone gets something different from a post but I got this sense of relief that I wasn’t the only one second guessing getting a dog during February hell, ice, and freezing rain. Wags was so terrified of ice she wouldn’t even pee for over 12 hours until the ground thawed. God help her in Colorado.

The soup looks awesome! And kind of easy since I’ll skip chicken and add beans. You had me at chipotle!


Biz March 6, 2015 at 9:12 am

I love the addition of vinegar in this recipe! Totally going on my list of things to make – mostly for the fixins! :D

Have a great weekend!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes March 10, 2015 at 6:29 am

I am definitely getting myself a slow cooker!
My cat sometimes joins me for yoga, but only to show of his superior stretching skills.


elizabeth March 13, 2015 at 7:06 am

Lots of snow and no snow days is just a cruel, cruel thing to inflict on children–at least give them a day to enjoy all of it! Hopefully the Minxes can get some restitution this month and then the snow can all go away very quickly after that.

You definitely have a poltergeist in your kitchen as all of those coincidences are downright eerie. Moreover you have given me a valid reason to at least look into buying a slow cooker on Amazon, much to my husband’s delight.


Alison March 15, 2015 at 3:23 am

Perfect too-cold-for-your-tits-food!
(I don’t know why I just wrote that but it popped into my head, heh)


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