Easy Tortilla Soup with Chicken or Turkey

Hearty, homemade soup that's so-so easy, you barely have to cook. Just reach into the pantry for some healthy shelf-stable ingredients (canned beans, tomatoes, corn and green chiles;, a jar of salsa). Throw in some cooked turkey (hello, leftover Thanksgiving turkey) or cooked chicken (hello, rotisserie chicken) and a good measure of cumin for seasoning. Now slip it all into a slow cooker or slow-cook in the oven. It's the easiest supper you've made in a long while ...

Easy Tortilla Soup, another healthy soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, quick-to-assemble with rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey, slow cooker or slow-cooked. WW Friendly.

Real Food, Fresh & Family-Tested. Hearty & Filling. Budget Friendly. One-Pot Meal. Great for Meal Prep. Potluck & Party Friendly. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly.

My Best Advice for Thanksgiving

American Thanksgiving is next week. zmy food world is all a-flutter but I’m hoping for low-key this year, something simple.

Because it's crazy, isn't it, how all the food people are telling us how to cook our turkeys? tempting us with perfect sides? getting us to rethink dessert a dozen times? wondering whether you should offer an appetizer?

Well here's my simple advice.


Yes, you read that right, MAKE SOUP.

Not for Thanksgiving dinner itself but so that before you start cooking for the big day, there is something in the fridge that can be eaten on Wednesday night or a light lunch, all before everyone sits down to the table to give thanks.

So the one thing I know for sure? The first thing I’ll make on Wednesday, before gearing up for all the day-before Thanksgiving cooking? A big pot of hearty soup.

My Love-Hate Hate Affair with Slow Cookers.

I know, I know, you’d like to know if this soup can be made in a slow cooker. It just might – I’d recommend 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

But the honest answer is that I’m tired of slow cookers not saving but sabotaging dinner.

Here's why.

UNRELIABLE HEAT For 20 years, I loved a West Bend slow cooker – a smallish slow cooker with a stovetop-safe nonstick cooker for browning – but it went kaput awhile back.

I bought two or three slow cookers in quick succession – one lid broke; one was just too hot.

I bought a promising set of three stackable cookers (medium, large, huge) with a single base, all of them run hot.

Then I learned West Bend still sells a version of that long-time favorite slow cooker and ordered one on the spot. Acck – what a disappointment: the base got warm but not hot, nothing would cook. West Bend replaced the base and the new one seems to work fine. But I remain wary, one eye on the slow cooker, another on the pizza delivery number.

FLAT FLAVORS & TEXTURES One more thing. I sense a texture and “layers of flavor” difference between slow cookers and stovetop or oven cooking. Slow cookers seem to just meld everything together into a kind of messy one-ness. Convenient? Sure. But with a notable loss in good food.

GIVING UP? But I haven’t given up. Last spring I bought two highly vaunted slow cooker cookbooks and vow to keep trying new recipes throughout the winter. If you have one you love, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d share the recipe.

My Love Affair with Slow-Cooking in the Oven

QUICK UPDATE! I have, indeed, largely given up crockpot-style slow cookers. But I have not given up on slow cooking – I just use my oven set at a very low temperature. It's wonderful!

You won't miss a slow cooker, I promise, see Slow Cooker & Oven Slow-Cooking, it's packed with real supper saver recipes and more.

Hungry Yet? A Festive Night-Before-Thanksgiving Menu

My Guacamole &
Best Quick Tomato Salsa (Red Salsa)
with Tortilla Chips

Easy Tortilla Soup
(recipe below)
Savory Cornbread Muffins

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How do you save and share favorite recipes? recipes that fit your personal cooking style? a particular recipe your mom or daughter or best friend would just love? If this recipe for an easy-easy tortilla soup hits the mark, go ahead, save and share! I'd be honored ...

Easy Tortilla Soup, another healthy soup ♥ KitchenParade.com, quick-to-assemble with rotisserie chicken or leftover turkey, slow cooker or slow-cooked. WW Friendly.


Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 3 hours
Makes 9 cups
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, trimmed & diced
  • 15 ounces canned black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounces canned corn
  • 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounces (2 cups) chicken stock
  • 8 ounces canned mild green chiles
  • 1 cup mild salsa
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cumin
  • 4-1/2 cups diced cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken or cooked turkey
  • Baked Corn Tortilla Strips (see below) or corn chips
  • Grated cheddar cheese, sour cream or guacamole

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil until shimmery. Add the celery and cook just until soft. Add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, stock, chiles, salsa, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil, then stir in the cooked chicken or turkey and return to a boil again.

OPTION #1 SIMMER ON THE STOVE Cover and let the soup simmer on the stoveop for 2 hours, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain a slow simmer.

OPTION #2 SLOW-COOK IN THE OVEN Cover and place in a 225F/105C oven for 2 hours.

TO SERVE Spoon soup into bowls, top with a sprinkle of grated cheddar cheese, dollops of Lime Crema (or sour cream) and My Guacamole plus a few baked corn tortilla strips

FOR BAKED TORTILLA STRIPS Brush both sides of two corn tortillas with a tiiiiiny bit of oil, then sprinkle with a dusting of cumin and garlic powder. The idea is to use only enough oil (about a teaspoon, total) to lightly dampen both tortillas just enough so the spices will adhere and the tortillas will turn crisp and golden in the oven. Stack the tortillas and cut into strips. Arrange the strips on a baking sheet and bake at 400F/200C until golden; in my oven, that's about 6 minutes but watch the timing, it can vary widely based on different tortillas and the amount of oil.
ALANNA’s TIPS If you don’t have cooked chicken or turkey on hand, just bake 1-1/2 pounds (675g) chicken breasts on a baking sheet at 350F/175C for 25 minutes or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165F/75C. Let cool, then cut into bite-size pieces or "pull" into strands.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup, Soup Only: 174 Calories; 3g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 26mg Cholesterol; 708mg Sodium; 23g Carb; 4g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 15g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3 & PointsPlus 4 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 0 & myWW green 4 & blue 0 & purple 0 (Freestyle, blue and purple assume chicken breast or turkey breast without any skin, 2 cups = 1 point) This recipe has been Alanna-sized with reductions in fat and protein.
Adapted from a recipe from Chez Marilyn in Alton, Illinois, an old river town upriver from St. Louis. I first made this soup last spring when I made it for my column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, serving it for friends for dinner. Ever since, it’s been a go-to hearty soup.

Seasonal Cooking: Preparing for Thanksgiving

Light & Fluffy Homemade Whole-Grain Bread & Buns Perfect Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins Squash Puff Turnip Puff Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Oven-Baked Whole-Grain Pilaf with Quinoa, Barley, Kamut & Other Grains Pumpkin Bread Pudding Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars Pumpkin Pecan Pie Apple-Butter Pumpkin Pie Cranberry Linzer Tart Mom's Perfect Biscuits How to Make Perfect Biscuits (Step-by-Step Photos & Detailed Instructions + Eight Tips for Extra-Good Biscuits) Mulled Apple Cider

This Week, Elsewhere

~ Highway 61 Roadhouse Green Beans ~
from Highway 61 Roadhouse
~ more St. Louis Restaurant Recipes ~
My Weekly Column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

~ Silky Smooth Corn Pudding ~
~ more Recent Recipes ~
A Veggie Venture

More Supper Soups

~ soup recipes ~
Turkey Orzo Soup with Lemon & Spinach ♥ KitchenParade.com, a hearty mix of cooked turkey, pasta and vegetables brightened with lemon, perfect for spring. Weight Watchers Friendly. High Protein.

Beef Barley Soup with Mushrooms ♥ KitchenParade.com, hearty, meaty soup packed with root vegetables and earthy mushrooms and the addictive nuttiness of barley.

White Chicken Chili ♥ KitchenParade.com, spicy-but-not-too-spicy, just chicken, spices, chilies and white beans.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, for more scratch cooking recipes using whole, healthful ingredients, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade
2012 & 2021

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Karen G11/19/2012

    Got your column about the slow cooker as I was preparing for Thanksgiving, which prompted my email. I love your column! Staples at our house include Oven-Baked Brown Rice, One Pot Chicken with Beans and Vegetables, and Asian Chicken Salad.

    I've had the same problem with the slow cooker - sometimes it works, sometimes it just muddles the flavors. The best cookbook I've found is Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. They have several cranberry sauce recipes in there, which led me to adapt my own (below). The recipes for Overnight Steel-Cut Oatmeal, Ratatouille, several chili recipes, Applesauce, and Easy Cheesy Ravioli Casserole are all great. (That last one works well in the 2 quart slow cooker for the one that has 3 inserts - I have that one, too. Just cut the recipe in half - it's better than when cooked in the oven, believe it or not.) The Salsa Chicken is pretty good, too - lime brightens the flavor at the end.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. I cannot believe my luck for accidentally tripping over your website. I am starting WW AGAIN for the nnnth time. I have been desperately seeking a website with healthy options that LOOKED GOOD TOO!!! Your site is awesome ... thank you, thank you, thank you !!

  3. I didn't think about crockpots heating differently till I read your post.

    We had a pot luck Saturday evening and I took mushrooms in the crock pot. Put 4 or 5 pkges of cleaned button mushrooms in pot. Melt one or two sticks of butter - recipe calls for two, I usually use one. Mix in one pkge of dry ranch dressing and pour over mushrooms. Cook on high for 5 hrs., according to recipe. At home, I follow recipe; here in our winter place, the lid was practically bouncing off the pot before two hours, so I finished it on low.

    This is so easy and I never bring any home.


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna