By Cassie Johnston
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Ready in 8 hours, 20 minutes
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I unabashedly use my slow cooker all year long, but it really gets a good workout during the Fall and Winter months. I know there are some soup aficionados out there who can enjoy a piping hot bowl of the stuff any time of year, but my soup love only really kicks in around the same time the weather gets cool enough that I want to wear socks again.
Anyone else not wear socks from about April to September? Just me? I live in the country. Honestly, you’re lucky I even have shoes on.
Now that the temps have dropped (and are hopefully staying that way), my slow cooker has been granted a semi-permanent piece of real estate on my countertop.
(And, before you ask, this is my slow cooker. I love it. I got it for a wedding present, meaning I’ve had it for almost a decade. I use it multiple times a week. It still rocks.)
I know slow cooking has become seriously en vogue in recent years—and I think all that attention is totally deserved. You can slow cook just about anything! Breakfast. Snacks. Lunches. Dinners. Desserts. There have actually been a few times in my life where I wished I owned more than one slow cooker so I could slow cook multiple things at one time (I’m looking at you, Thanksgiving dinner).
If you’re inexperienced with the slow cooker, while I would say there are very few rules to slow cooking, there are a few recommendations that I personally would suggest you follow. First up, I generally avoid lean meats in the slow cooker. I know lots of people make chicken breast casserole things and ground turkey soupy doo-dads and the such in the slow cooker, but I personally find that the long cooking time just tends to dry out lean meat.
I much prefer to go with a fattier cut of meat that can “handle” the long cooking time. Hence why I’m using chicken thighs in this here soup recipe. The added fat of the dark meat helps that chicken stay moist and tender, even after being under heat for eight hours.
The second important thing to remember with the slow cooker is that it is a very wet method of cooking—unlike, say, the oven or the grill. With the lid on, the slow cooker basically turns into a steam room for food.
This means that anything that you’d like to have a crunchy, crispy, or chewy texture probably either needs to be added only at the very end of cooking in the slow cooker or added upon serving to avoid them turning into complete mush.
If you’ve never had chicken tortilla soup before, it pretty much is created on the principle of adding the crunchiness at the end. The thing that makes tortilla soup so fun (other than the awesome taste) is how it’s served. You fill a bowl with fresh chunks of avocado and warm, crispy corn tortilla strips, and then pour the hot soup over top. The tortilla strips turn into “noodles” in the soup, and the avocado gets warm and creamy.
Honestly, after you’ve put it all together, it’s a lot less soup-like, and a lot more hearty, comforting, totally cozy stew-like. Some folks make their chicken tortilla soup a little more liquidy and thin, I prefer something that will happily pile up on a spoon. No slurping here! Enjoy.
The fun of this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup comes from the mix-ins! Ripe avocado, crispy tortilla strips, melty cheese and fresh cilantro are my favorite way to serve it up.
Never used hominy before? You can find cans of it in the international foods aisle of your grocery store. It’s got an amazing puffy and chewy texture that really adds some interest to this soup (but you can totally leave it out if you can’t track it down). Hominy tends to go a bit mushy if you let it slow cook for the entire time. Just toss it in at the end and let it warm through right before serving.
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I jutt broke out my slow cooker and I’m obsessed! i need to make this soup now! perfect for fall
Dear Cassie, I do own two slow cookers. And I’m so glad, because my oven is currently broken and I’m having to custom order a new one because of my cabinets. Glad to have another slow cooker recipe in the recipe box. Flavorful and delicious, I could eat this soup every day for a week. Chicken thighs are so flavorful and tender. Can’t wait to try this one out!
I often wish I had ore than one slow cooker, it is the one thing I cannot live without in my kitchen. and this soup will definitely make an appearance as soon as our weather cools a bit.
Reading this has me seriously considering buying a slow cooker. And thanks for the note on hominy — I’d never heard of it before and am intrigued!
Okay, I couldn’t resist — I ran into Canadian Tire on the way to work yesterday and picked up your Hamilton Beach slow cooker (and it was 40% off, score!). Can’t wait to make slow cooker recipes all winter long!
Gotta love a soup that is more like a stew in terms of thickness :)
Our slow cooker gets quite the workout in the fall and winter! This soup needs to get added to the rotation soon!
Recipe looks yummy! I have two 6 quart slow cookers and often use both at once…around the holidays you can get the basic models for about $ 30 — totally worth it…
I share your slow cooker love, I also recently dusted mine off as well. Bring on the slow cooker recipes-cannot wait to try this one out with my family!~Carolyn @ Cabot
Ohmigosh I need this recipe in my life!! I’ve been trying to brainstorm things to make in the slow cooker now that it’s dipped below 70 degrees here, but there is SO MUCH on Pinterest it’s kind of overwhelming haha.
I love your tips, too. I think I knew both of these things (based on botched meals), but they were never fully confirmed until now. Thank you. :) <3
I made this recipe the other night and I really loved it! I never tried hominy before, but it was great…almost like little potatoes in a way. Mine came out more like a soup then the pictures looked. I topped it with cheddar cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla strips. If you don’t want to make your own tortilla strips, They sell packaged ones for salads by the salad dressings, croutons, etc. in my store. I will be making again! Thanks!
I just made this yesterday, it came out so good! Mine came out more soup than stew as well but the flavors were spot on. Thanks for a great recipe!
I made this last night and it was BEYOND amazing. Just had another bowl for lunch!
My slow cooker is a little small so I ran out of room before the chicken broth so mine was REALLY stew-y. The hominy was such a great addition. I used Trader Joe’s garlic salsa. Wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it!!
This looks great; does it matter if the thighs are bone-in vs. boneless? I guess boneless would ultimately be easier, but having the bones in would richer the stock/sauce, I would expect. Obviously would need to remove the thighs and strip off the meat before shredding.
Nope, either is fine. Boneless just makes it easier. :)
This is going to be perfect for my next crockpot dinner night!
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