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Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup has loads of "hidden" veggies, tender shredded chicken, and plenty of plant-based protein in the form of quinoa and beans -- it's a powerhouse of good-for-you ingredients! Cozy up with a big bowl with your favorite tortilla soup toppings and be prepared to be completely hooked on this soup!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword Healthy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cooking Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 6 -8 servings
Calories 329kcal
Cost $8.92

Equipment

  • 6-quart slow cooker and cooking spray

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (125g) finely diced yellow onion
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon each minced garlic, finely minced jalapeño (jalapeño is optional if you like heat)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder Note 1
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Fine sea salt and pepper
  • 1 can (10 oz.; 283g) diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Ro*Tel) Note 3
  • 1 lb (16 oz.) boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breasts) Note 2
  • 1/2 cup (90g) quinoa, white or tri-colored, thoroughly rinsed
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.; 432g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (10 oz. 283g) mild red enchilada sauce Note 4
  • 1-1/2 cups (200g) frozen corn (or 1 can drained)
  • 1 carton (32 oz; 907g) chicken stock (or broth) (~4 cups) Note 5
  • Optional finishing touches: 3-4 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Toppings: freshly grated sharp cheese, diced ripe avocado, extra squeeze of lime, fried or baked tortilla strips or chips, sour cream, additional cilantro, etc. Note 6

Instructions

  • PREP: Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray. Trim the chicken of fat and cut each piece into 2-inch chunks. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and set aside.
  • SOUP FLAVOR BASE: If you have the option to sauté in your slow cooker base, use that; otherwise, use a pot. Add olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Add in onion and sauté until turning golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic and jalapeño and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the tomato paste and the seasonings: chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Season with salt & pepper (I add 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but add to personal preference). Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until very fragrant. Pour the entire can (don't drain) of diced tomatoes and mix, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Use a spatula to scrape every bit of this mixture into the base of the slow cooker.
  • COOK: Add the remaining ingredients (except for the finishing touches and toppings) into the slow cooker. Stir well, submerge chicken below the liquid and cook on high for 2-1/2 up to 3-1/2 hours or until chicken easily shreds. (See Note 7.) Remove the chicken and transfer to a bowl. Shred the chicken with two forks and return to the slow cooker.
  • FINISHING: Add in the cilantro and lime juice, if using. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt/pepper if desired. Serve into bowls. Add desired toppings and enjoy immediately!
  • STORAGE: This soup will continue to thicken as the quinoa expands. We still think it tastes great, but it does get thicker and thicker as it stands. This soup is best eaten within 2-3 days. Reheat over low heat on the stovetop and add a splash of chicken stock as needed. It does not freeze well; the soup continues to absorb liquid and quinoa gets overly bloated.

Notes

Note 1: Chili Powder: Not to be confused with chilli powder which is very hot. We're using American chili powder (I use McCormick which is much milder).
Note 2: Chicken: While chicken breasts will work, we highly recommend chicken thighs. The thigh meat becomes exceptionally tender in the slow cooker and shreds quickly and easily. It’s also more forgiving if it is cooked longer, since chicken breasts tend to dry out if they’re cooked too long.
Note 3: Tomatoes: If you're concerned about heat, use regular diced tomatoes or regular fire-roasted tomatoes instead of tomatoes with green chiles added.
Note 4: Enchilada sauce: This can vary greatly in heat from brand to brand. Personally, I love and recommend Old El Paso® mild red enchilada sauce (not sponsored). If you aren’t able to find this specific brand, I’d recommend tasting the enchilada sauce first and making sure it isn’t too spicy.
Note 5: Chicken stock: A high-quality, flavorful stock adds loads of flavor and allows us to cut down on spices or other additions. We highly recommend Swanson® chicken stock — it’s our favorite in this soup.
Note 6: Toppings: While this soup is tasty right out of the slow cooker, the toppings truly seal the deal, delivering an unforgettable meal, so don't skimp on these!
Note 7: Cooking time: Unfortunately, this recipe doesn’t cook well on low. The quinoa needs higher heat to “pop” and cook through.  Each slow cooker is a little different so the cooking time varies. Look for chicken that shreds easily, quinoa that is fully cooked through, and tender veggies. The longer this soup cooks, the more liquid the quinoa absorbs. For a heartier soup, that’s great, but if you want it to remain more broth-y, stop cooking as soon as the quinoa has “popped.” 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 329kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 131mg | Potassium: 819mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 445IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 4mg