Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

So it’s been pretty cold. I know that I’ll get flack for saying this, being that I live in California and all. But it has consistently been 32 degrees or below every morning this week! I won’t mention that the high each day has also been 50 degrees…but I will complain about having to defrost and/or just get impatient and scrape ice off the windshield in the morning. I was actually up at 6:30 yesterday morning to go get a cancerous mole removed (long story) and it was a shock to my cold-hating soul!

I’m convinced this winter that I have poor circulation, because I am pretty much always freezing. I’m freezing in my 63 degree apartment, T-Man’s 67 degree house…I’m even sometimes freezing in my office, which is actually kept around 73 degrees.

Enter: soup.

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I’ve been craving hot food lately, especially since I had a head/chest cold over Christmas and wanted everything I consumed to be hot to soothe my throat. My dad’s side of the family (all 18 of us) exchange gifts Secret Santa-style every year, so when my cousin Evan drew my name this year, he sneakily asked T-Man what to get me for Christmas. T-Man suggested a Crockpot…most likely because I have been holding his hostage for about 6 months now and it’s time I got my own ­čÖé

So that’s what I got for Christmas, and I knew immediately what I’d be making in it first: SOUP!

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I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Chicken Tortilla Soup. I love it because it involves lots of my favorite non-soup ingredients: chiles, corn, chicken, cilantro… I hate it for the same reason I steer clear of Chicken Noodle Soup: because it’s normally pretty brothy, with rubbery pieces of chicken floating around. I am not usually that person who slurps up all the broth at the end of a bowl of soup – except maybe with a nice big piece of bread.

That being said…I slurped up all.of.the.broth at the end of every bowl of this soup. I have made myself a broth-believer.

The secret: a roasted pepper.

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I charred this pasilla pepper and blended him up with roasted garlic and cilantro to add a little sum’n-sum’n to my broth.

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(Another toy my mom got me for my birthday…a duo blender/mini food processor! To join the regular food processor T-Man got me for our anniversary. Good thing there are no more birthdays and holidays for a while, ’cause I’m running out of cabinet space!!)

The result was a broth that wasn’t just there for all the ingredients to float in: it was actually super delicious on its own!

And because this soup is made in the Crockpot, it is extremely easy to make. It also has very few ingredients and is HEALTHY! Check it out for yourself:

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Boneless skinless chicken thighs, a pepper, cilantro, tomatoes, garlic, black beans (cause I love ’em) and fat free low sodium chicken broth. Oh and frozen corn, which isn’t pictured. This meal is packed with protein and not much fat at all – only from the chicken. The great thing about cooking in a Crockpot is you don’t have to add oil like you do with sauteing or roasting!

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You really just dump it all into the Crockpot. I avoided the dreaded rubbery chunks of chicken by first cooking the thighs whole, then removing them toward the end of cooking and shredding them with a couple of forks. Such a good decision!

This is a soup that can also be made without a Crockpot…your best bet would be to use leftover cooked chicken and shred it first, then add everything to a pot and let it simmer for as long as you’d like.

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Make it! Warm up your cold wintery self!

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Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
makes 3-4 servings

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs OR 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2-14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth (about 3-4 cups)
1 pasilla pepper (I would use a pasilla pepper or the spicier poblano…the 2 are often confused for each other)
1 bunch cilantro
2-3 cloves garlic (roasted or not- here’s a good tutorial on how to roast garlic)
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes in chiles
1/4 cup corn
shredded cheese (optional)
crumbled tortilla chips (optional)

Start by adding chicken and chicken broth to the Crockpot. Set Crockpot to high so the chicken can start to cook during the short time it will take you to prepare the other ingredients.

Char the pasilla pepper on all sides, either on your gas stove or under the broiler in your oven. When it is done, carefully move it into a plastic bag, or a covered bowl, so the steam will release the skin. After about 10 minutes, you will be able to easily remove the charred skin, as well as the inner seeds and ribs. I also charred and peeled my garlic cloves as a way to “roast” them. Add garlic and peeled pepper to food processor, along with a handful or two of cilantro, and process until it is a pesto-like consistency. I added a teaspoon of water to help it along.

Now you can start adding the rest of the ingredients to the Crockpot. Add the chile-cilantro mixture and stir to incorporate into the broth. Next, add black beans and the entire can of tomatoes and chiles (liquid and all). Last, add the corn. Slow cook in the Crockpot on high for 4 hours. After 3 hours, remove the chicken thighs and shred them with two forks. Add the shredded chicken back in for the last hour of cooking.

Garnish with cheese and tortilla chips if desired! (I didn’t have any on hand! For shame.)

Note: You can also set your Crockpot to low if you want it to take longer to cook (e.g. while you are at work). If you set it to low, it will take 6-8 hours total. You will still want to remove the chicken about an hour before the cooking time is up. Also, I feel like I should warn that if you also buy Rotel brand tomatoes and are a tomato-hater, they will smell pretty disgusting at first…but never fear, the broth actually masks the taste of the tomatoes very well! Believe me, T-Man and I were gagging at the smell of the Rotel and both loved the final product!