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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

Oh my goodness…home.

After a month of back-to-back trips, it felt so amazing to finally arrive back home in Kansas City late Saturday night. Well, make that Sunday morning. Thanks to sleeping through our alarm and then getting stuck in epic traffic jams while driving through Smoky Mountain National Park (along with the rest of the world who apparently showed up that day to see the leaves changing), our 13-hour drive home turned into a 16-hour drive home. But once we finally pulled into my parking lot at 3am, it didn’t matter. It just felt soooooo wonderful to be back home!

Of course, once I arrived home, I started to feel the weight of the to-do list of the 5 million things I needed to catch up on after a month away. But I decided to stay in vacation mode for at least one more day and spend my Sunday doing all of the home-y things I had been missing. You know…took a nice steamy shower in my own bathroom, enjoyed a mug of homemade coffee, took a lovely walk to church, finally got to hug a bunch of friends I had been missing at church, came home and took a mini-siesta with Henry in the afternoon, and then met up with Barclay and my parents who were in town for a cozy dinner at a neighborhood ramen shop that just opened, and then ended the day by catching up on the latest episode of The Good Wife on the couch with my favorite hot tea.

Mmmm, there’s no place like home home.

Of course, after being out on the road without much time for cooking, I also couldn’t resist spending at least a little time in the kitchen yesterday. The fridge was looking a little empty for the busy week ahead. So I decided to put my crock pot to use an make a big batch of soup that I could freeze and have on hand. I had made a slow cooker version of my favorite Rick Bayless-inspired tortilla soup a few weeks ago that turned out well. So since I still had some pasilla peppers on hand (the rockstar ingredient of this recipe!), I decided to slow cook another batch for the week ahead.

As soon as those savory smells started filling my loft, it really felt like home. :)

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

I mean, let’s be real, I always feel at home when Mexican food is around.

But there’s something about a big pot of soup simmering in the kitchen for hours and hours, and filling the house with the most delicious smells, that is just the best.

And when it comes to tortilla soup recipes, this easy recipe is one I consider to be the best I’ve found.

It’s incredibly easy to make, with just about 10 minutes of prep time required (mostly just chopping veggies and tossing all of the ingredients in a crock pot). It is always incredibly popular when I serve it to a crowd, especially considering that it’s also naturally gluten-free. But more than anything, I just find it incredibly delicious.

For sure, everyone has their own opinions when it comes to what makes a perfect tortilla soup. But years ago, I learned a little tortilla soup secret from Rick Bayless that was a game-changer for me — dried pasilla chile peppers.  Also known as “negro” or black chiles, these tasty little guys are absolute gold in tortilla soup. They bring the most rich, deep, earthy, delicious flavor to the soup. And since they’re naturally pretty mild, you don’t need to worry about the soup being too spicy. (Although if you love some heat, I’d recommend also adding in a jalapeno or a serrano or two, which pair well with the pasilla chiles.)

I like to just lay a pasilla pepper or two on top of the other ingredients to let it flavor the soup while it cooks, and then pull it out and discard it afterwards. But you can also remove the stem and dice it and cook it right into the soup. Or in Mexico, it’s also traditional to mince up the dried pasilla peppers and sprinkle the flakes on top of the soup when serving. Whatever sounds best to you.

Pasilla chile peppers should be available in the dried Mexican peppers sections of most grocery stores. But if you can’t find them, don’t worry. You can also sub in a dried ancho chile pepper (which will be a little more sweet) or a dried Mulato chile (which will be a little more earthy). If your grocery store doesn’t carry either of those, you can also just substitute in a few teaspoons of good-quality chile powder, but the dried chiles are by far my favorites to use in this recipe.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

Then once the soup has cooked and is ready to go…Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

…just ladle it up…Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

…and either serve it as is…

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup -- this delicious recipe takes 10 minutes to prep, and then your crock pot does the rest! (It is also naturally gluten-free.) |

…or top it with any of your favorite toppings. Just be sure to add in some sort of tortilla chips or strips to honor its namesake. ;)


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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 4.9 from 11 reviews
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 240 minutes
  • Total Time: 250 minutes
  • Yield: 6 -8 servings 1x


This Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe is simple to make, naturally gluten-free, and SO flavorful and delicious!


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 dried pasilla (negro) chile peppers*
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste
  • fresh lime wedges
  • optional garnishes: chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, diced red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips/chips


  1. Add all ingredients to a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Use two forks to shred the chicken.  Remove the pasilla chile(s), and discard.
  2. Serve warm with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and topped with optional garnishes if desired.
  3. You can also refrigerate this soup in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.


*If you can’t find pasilla/negro chiles at the store, you can substitute in 1 ancho chile instead (which is a bit sweeter) or 1 Mulatto chile (which is a little earthier) or 2 teaspoons chile powder (feel free to add more/less to taste).

The type of chili you use will be one of the main ingredients to flavor the broth, so feel free to use whatever sounds (and smells) best to you.

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79 comments on “Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup”

  1. Ok, this is gonna sound bad but it has a happy ending. My sister-in-law, whom I am quite fond of makes a tortilla soup. But she makes is out of 4 variety of canned soups. Dumps it in a pot. Done. We smile and um, pretend to love it. I’m going to delicately share this with her! I mean, we can all improve our skills in the kitchen…right! 

  2. So glad you are back home and were able to have some down time! Trips and busyness can wear, us, DOWN….. This soup looks DELICIOUS!! Who doesn’t LOVE their crockpot, I mean seriously?! Super easy, which is always a win! Pinning :)

  3. Coming home after being away is one of the greatest feelings, let alone coming home and enjoying the smells of delicious Mexican soup. Chicken tortilla soup is one of my favs–love the addition of avocado (always).  

  4. This look delicious, and so easy, cant wait to try it! 

  5. Coming home after being away is one of the best feelings!! And this chicken tortilla soup looks wonderful ;-) 

  6. Hello rhere Ali,I have just found your beautiful Blog,and have joined you on Bloglovin :)
    I will spend some time soon looking back through your previous posts,but your recipe today looks fabulous!Sounds you have had quite a road trip-but yes,you are right,there really is no place like home :)
    Best wishes,Nessa xxx

  7. Living on the border with Mexico, we can find all sorts of dried chiles.  Pasilla and Anchos are common, and sometimes you can find the powdered version, which could work.  If you can’t find Pasilla or Ancho peppers, mild New Mexico chiles would also work.  Just stay away from the Chile de Arbol or Chipotle dried peppers, as well as the hot New Mexico chiles – they are hot.
    This soup sounds delicious, like something I need to try, even though I’m not real big on soup.

    • Thanks for sharing Susan, and we hope you like this soup if you get a chance to give it a try! :)

  8. I love this time of year precisely for all the great soups, stews, and chilis. This is definitely one that I will be making, pinned!

  9. The soup looks fantastic, Ali! 
    I just got back home after 30 days road trip myself, and I feel you. Now I love my small apartment, my coffee mug and my comfy bed more than ever. 
    I guess it’s time to shake the dust off my slow cooker… 

  10. Delicious!  I wanted to make some chicken soup for my sick toddler and me, but no time to go to the grocery store.  I had to use white chili beans and pinto beans instead of black, but I’ll stock up on black beans for next time.  Toddler liked it.  I liked it.  Thanks for posting this recipe.

  11. I’m not sure if this can beat your enchilada soups (slow cooker and 20 minute version) because they are SO. DANG. GOOD. but I can’t wait to try! Love the pasilla chile addition! 

    • Yay, we’re happy you’re a fan of those two! :) We think you’ll like this one as well! :)

  12. Oh my goodness this looks great. It’s hard to really make a good tortilla soup. I’m in San Antonio right now (staying for a masquerade ball Halloween night!) and I do believe I’ve tried at least 10 different versions of this amazing soup. Only a few people have made it the right way. Do you often make a white bean tortilla soup? That’s something I’ve tried to make but it was an epic fail!

    • Oooh that masquerade ball sounds so fun! We haven’t tried a white bean tortilla soup, but we do have:

  13. My mouth watered just reading the title of this. Definitely adding to my slow cooker cookbook!

    Charlotte xx

  14. Just put this geogeous soup in on!! Can’t wait to try it?

  15. Tortilla soup is one of my favorites – and this one of yours looks amazing!!  I love all of the ingredients here (especially the beans).  Also love the idea of putting it all in the crockpot and letting it work its magic!  Great recipe!!

  16. Tortilla soup is my jam this time of year! Definitely time to invest in a crock pot. 

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

  17. Being home after long trip is a wonderful feeling!  I can’t wait to try this soup!  It’s finally cooling down here in Sacto.  Could I use frozen corn defrosted instead of canned?  

    • Hey Chris, you most definitely can use defrosted corn instead of canned! We hope you enjoy this! :)

  18. Will this recipe fit into a 3.5 quart crockpot?

  19. Made this today and it was delicious! Followed the recipe and ended up with a hearty soup that was a meal in itself. I thought at first there would be too much liquid, but after shredding the chicken and adding it back to the pot, the thickness was perfect, as was the flavor. This is a big deal for me. I’m not a great cook, but now I have a go-to soup recipe. 

  20. Yum, this looks good.  Can frozen chicken be used?  If so, how will that affect cooking time?  Thanks!

    • Hi Michelle! You can use frozen chicken, but it must be thawed properly first. Putting frozen meat directly in a crockpot/slow cooker is dangerous, as doing so will keep your meat in the danger zone (40°F – 140°F) for too long, encouraging harmful bacteria.

  21. I absolutely love how easy and clear- cut each recipe is!  I also love the backstory for each meal, as it paints a really fun idea of the memories that come back to you as you dig in to each dish!  I am trying this chicken tortilla soup today, and I can NOT wait to get home from work to see what glorious ending product is waiting for me!  Thanks so much for your fun and healthy recipes…SO happy I discovered your site!!!!  Happy cooking/blogging/living!

    • Thanks so much Samantha, we appreciate your sweet words about the blog! And we hope you love the soup! :D

  22. Do the lime wedges go in the soup? Or are they for the fresh squeeze before serving? I’m trying the recipe right now!

    • Hi Gingee, the lime wedges are just a garnish (squeeze a little lime juice in your soup before eating, if you’d like). We hope you enjoy!

  23. I did not use a slow cooker for this. I didn’t have time for that. But it took me two hours, after I sautéed and then added everything together. It was one of the best soup I’ve ever made.

  24. I made this on Sunday, it was pretty good, the only thing we were unhappy about what the broth. The broth could use more flavor for some reason it was pretty watery tasting. Will need to try a different broth or more seasonings next time.

    • Hi Michele! We’re sorry you found the broth to be a little bland. What kind of chicken stock did you use? Definitely feel free to add more seasonings (both salt and spices) to taste, if you like. We appreciate your feedback!

  25. I’m thinking about doubling the amount of chicken to make it a little heartier and more filling. Should I also double the seasoning while leaving the amount of veggies the same?

    • We would just start off with the amount of seasoning the recipe calls for, then you can always add more to taste! :)

  26. I pinned this recipe a while ago, but just made it tonight. Omg so good! My husband had me add this to our recipe box, but I’ll admit we don’t do a lot of spice, so just one thinly sliced poblano went into it. Garnished with avocado, cilantro, and organic blue tortilla chips. Mmmmm thank you! 

  27. I absolutely love Hispanic/Latino food & always enjoy learning new recipes of my fav dishes. I have been craving Chicken Tortilla soup for a while & I stumbled across your recipe, I can’t wait to try it tonight! 
    *Home Sweet Home*, nothing else like it! Thanks for sharing :)

  28. Awesome recipe! I made it for a crowd of 8 and added a extra chicken breast. Everyone loved it thanks again!

  29. Growing up I never once tried chicken tortilla soup even though it was my older sisters favorite comfort soup. Me and my boyfriend have new dinner Wednesday were we try a new recipe. I tried this about a month ago but am glad to say I’ll be making it again tomorrow bc its now a family favorite. Thank you soo very much for sharing this recipe!!!!

  30. You took out the red enchilada sauce from this recipe?! What happened. 

    • Hi Travis, this recipe actually never had enchilada sauce in it. Maybe you’re thinking about this one?

  31. This was a huge hit in my home. Which was surprising since my boyfriend does not like Mexican Food. This soup was way better then every tortilla soup I have tried at restaurants at home. Probably because I live in Edmonton, Alberta LOL. I was in San Diego once and went to a local restaurant and their soup was by far the best I have had. This is now tied with it at number 1! Thank you!

    • Thanks for sharing with us, Alyssa — we’re so happy it was a hit with your family! :D

  32. This recipe looks great, but I would need to make for a crowd of 10-12. Should I just add chicken breasts, or double everything?

    • Hi Rachel! We would recommend doubling the recipe, but you’d need to do two batches, since the slow cooker would be overloaded. (We used a 6-qt slow cooker). We hope everyone enjoys the recipe!

  33. Ah, The Good Wife! Need to watch more episodes.

  34. Hi there! I tried this soup and absolutely LOVE it! It is so flavorful with the addition of the pasilla chiles! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe :)
    What kind of quality chicken stock do you recommend?

    • Thanks, Joy — we’re so happy to hear that! For chicken stock, we love Trader Joe’s organic low-sodium chicken stock and Better Than Bouillon. :)

  35. This has become one of my all time favorite soups. And with only 7 Smart Points (for the Weight Watchers folks). :) Sour Cream, tortilla strips, cheese and avocado up the point count but they are a must have I think.

  36. Hello. Do you have the nutritional information for this recipe? I’m tracking my macros. Thanks!

    • Hey Jaimie! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  37. I use this recipe all the time! I’ve shared it with my weight loss group and they love it as well. I use taco seasoning instead of the seasoning blend and add a few diced jalapenos and I use I can of chili black beans in mine

  38. Another fabulous recipe! We made two adjustments though. 1. Used Cayenne Pepper in place of the peppers (had a hard time finding them in the store and was in a time crunch), and 2. Added a tablespoon of flour at the end to thicken it up a bit. It was just a little too thin for our liking but definitely a go-to soup!

  39. It has been freezing here on the east coast so this made for the perfect meal. Way better than the can version and even the Panera at Home one in the refrigerator aisle. This will definitely be one of my go-to crockpot meals in the future; very happy this was the first thing I choose to make with my new crockpot

  40. Love this soup! Very good!

  41. Wow! So easy and really delicious! The whole family loved it, and y’all know how infrequently
    that happens. I left out the garlic because the diced tomatoes I bought had some garlic added. Topped it with just a touch of sour cream and shredded cheese.
    Will definitely do this one again!

  42. I love this recipe!! I made it a bunch of times last winter and it was delicious every time. I added corn tortillas to the slow cooker if I had them.

    I’m wondering if this recipe work in the instant pot. Any suggestions/tips for converting the recipe?


  43. Easy! Used the chili powder because I didn’t have the peppers, but had all the other ingredients. Tasted great!

  44. This looks absolutely yummy! My wife is ill, and I have taken over all the cooking, but I’m NOT a cook!! This looks easy enough, and I’m finding out that the crock pot is my friend. And I have a sneaky suspicion that Ali will be my friend too. :) Thank you for the recipe.

  45. This is absolutely fabulous. Always a hit and freezes well. I could eat it for days! The lime juice garnish is perfection!

  46. Hi Ali. Just wanted to let you know I tried it. It’s delicious! I didn’t add any jalapenos, but next time I’ll add a couple. This soup has a really good taste. Thanks again.

  47. I am making this now but I have one question. What did you do with the chili peppers after it cooked? Chop it up?

  48. I fell in love with the homemade enchilada sauce from this website. This week, looking at the crock pot recipes, I tried this one. New hit with the family! Thank you!

  49. can I make the CHICKEN TORTILLA SOUP in the instant pot?

  50. We made this for dinner last night and my 7 year old son loved it so much he had me send it to school in a thermos for lunch! We used chili powder for the pepper. So delicious!!!