Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup is one of our favorites to freeze and take for school lunches. We like to add chicken to it, but you could definitely make a vegetarian version as well by omitting the chicken.
There are a few meal prep strategies that you could do before you make this soup, that will help you stock your freezer for other meals as well. I like to use Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth in this recipe. It’s almost free to make and one batch will give you enough broth to make this tortilla soup, plus an extra three cups to use in another recipe.
You can also get ahead by making a batch of shredded chicken. You will only need about two breasts for this soup, but if you cook and shred 8 chicken breasts, you will be able to freeze 6 more for future meals.
You can save time by preparing this recipe in a number of ways:
Prepare the tortilla soup the night before you need it
Assembling the soup in the crock pot, the night before you need it will allow you to simply turn on the slow cooker in the morning and let it cook all day while you’re at work.
If you don’t have the fridge space to store your crock pot over night, consider opening your cans, rinsing beans, chopping onions and garlic and measuring spices as you pre-prep, so you can just add them to the slow cooker in the morning.
Freeze extra portions of tortilla soup for lunches
This soup is a quick weeknight meal, but is also amazing as a hot lunch. You will get 8 2-cup portions from this recipe so it’s a great one to freeze for later.
Toppings and variations
As I mentioned previously, you could definitely make a vegetarian version by omitting the chicken and chicken bouillon concentrate. Adding toppings isn’t necessary but is a nice touch. Some toppings you could add are:
This post was written in a paid partnership with Manitoba Chicken Producers. As always, all opinions are my own and I only promote products and services that I use and love.
Back-to-School may look a little different this year, but what won’t change is the fact that we still need to eat dinner every night.
Prepping shredded chicken in a large batch and freezing it unseasoned is a quick and easy supper solution that can be transformed into a variety of meals.
Having some quick options for lunches and dinner can make the transition from summer vacation to back-to-school a little easier.
How to prepare shredded chicken
Fill your slow cooker with chicken thighs or breasts and let it cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. When the chicken shreds easily with a fork, it’s ready. If you’re using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, add a small amount (1 cup or so) of vegetable or chicken broth to the crock pot for moist, tender chicken.
Food Safety Tip: Before you start shredding, use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cooked chicken pieces should be cooked to a reading of 165 degrees Farenheight.
You can even shred large quantities of boneless, skinless chicken in your stand-mixer with the paddle attachment if you’re pressed for time.
Bone-in or boneless?
Preferred cuts of chicken for this method are boneless, skinless breasts or thighs because they shred easily, whereas bone-in varieties require a little more effort when shredding. The advantage to using bone-in varieties is that you can save the bones to make soup stock. Simply add them to the ingredients of this Slow Cooker Vegetable Broth and you’ll have 9 cups of chicken broth ready to use in soups and other recipes.
How to portion and freeze it
I like to either portion by cup or by piece, for example 2 cups or 2 breasts. Freezing in smaller portions allows you to take out as many bags as you need for a recipe, rather than freezing the whole batch in one bag and having too much.
It’s important to label your bags with the amount, cut and date.
Food Safety Tip: Store cooked chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days or 2-3 months in the freezer. Head to manitobachicken.ca for other helpful storage tips.
Why cook it unseasoned?
Cooking the chicken unseasoned, allows you to use it in a variety of recipes, depending on the other ingredients you have on hand and your mood. You could substitute the grilled chicken in this Asian Grilled Chicken Salad – Three Ways with shredded chicken for lunch or dinner.
This salad is the perfect combination of sweet, tangy, and salty. The fresh tarragon adds a subtle licorice flavor to the vinaigrette that is creamy and dairy-free.
Choosing your greens
This salad makes great use of fresh greens and herbs. I used a combination of green leaf lettuce and endive fresh from the garden for this one, but romaine, kale, and spring mix would also work well here.
Tart & tangy
The dressing is quite tangy, so you really need the sweetness of the grapes and candied walnuts to balance out the flavors. I used a tart Granny Smith apple but a sweet red apple would be delicious in this salad too.
Variations and substitutions
If tarragon isn’t your thing, fresh dill or basil would be great in this salad as well. You could also substitute the apples and grapes for mandarin oranges or peaches. Instead of the walnuts, you could use pecans or almonds.
In a pinch, you could use white vinegar, but I love the added flavor of the apple cider vinegar to complement the fruit. A white wine vinegar would also pair well with these ingredients.
If you’re adding hard-boiled eggs or chicken to the salad, you can also serve it in a wrap or a pita for a substantial lunch option.