Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup

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.

Getting started

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.

Time-saving tips

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:

  • Diced avocado
  • Fresh cilantro
  • A squeeze of lime
  • Shredded cheese
  • Tortilla strips or chips

Back-to School Meal Prep: Shredded Chicken

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.

How to use the shredded chicken

Here are some delicious recipes from manitobachicken.ca that call for shredded chicken.

The Grilled Chicken Lime & Cheese Quesadillas are a quick weeknight meal with tons of flavor.
For the Char Sui Pulled Chicken, simply add the sauce ingredients to the shredded chicken and heat through. This would also work well as a lunch option the following day.
The Tropical Chicken Taquitos are a great addition to a supper snack board.

Take your meal prep one step further

If you have extra time to dedicate to your meal prep, prepare these recipes ahead of time. Then, freeze them so that you can simply heat and serve.

Food Safety Tip: Do not re-freeze cooked chicken that has already defrosted.

Freeze the quesadillas between two sheet pans to prevent the tortillas from curling. Store them in a freezer bag or large container.

For the taquitos, you can freeze them on a sheet pan first, then store them in a freezer bag or container.

For the Char Siu, combine the chicken with the sauce and store in a freezer bag. Reheat on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

Don’t forget to write the date and the name of the recipe on the bag!

A few more ideas

A few more simple ideas that use shredded chicken are:

  • On a pizza (try BBQ sauce, chicken, red peppers, mushrooms and cheddar cheese)
  • In a quesedilla (try pesto, chicken, sundried tomatoes & mozzarella)
  • In a sandwich (try adding 1/2 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix to 4 cups shredded chicken, 1/2 cup buffalo sauce and 2 Tbsp. butter. Heat through and serve over toasted buns.)

How will you use your shredded chicken? Tag us on Instagram and show us your creations @toobusylivin204 @mbchicken

Slow Cooker Marinara

This recipe has limited hands-on prep time. All you have to do is pop the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it go all day. Leftovers can be portioned and frozen for later.

Serve this marinara over pasta or chicken parm. It can also be used as a chunkier pizza sauce.

Slow Cooker or Stove-top

You’ll save the most time on this recipe by making it in the slow cooker, however, it’s also quite simple to make on the stove. I prefer the slow cooker method because it allows the flavors to develop and is hands-off.

Uses

This sauce can be served over your favorite pasta and can be used to top your chicken parmesan. Feel free to add veggies, cooked ground meat, or meatballs to customize it. I love adding cooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, and peppers to make it hearty.

Portion and freeze the leftovers

Allow the sauce to cool before portioning and freezing it. I like to store it in medium-sized Ziploc bags, and frozen flat so the store and stack nicely in the freezer. One cup portions would be great if using for a dish like chicken parmesan, and 2-3 cup portions are better for using it as a pasta sauce if you’re adding veggies or meat. In the end, choose portion amounts based on how you intend to use the sauce in the future.

Slow Cooker Marinara

A hands-free marinara recipe using pantry staples.

Course Main Course, pasta, sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword easy meals, marinara, quick meals, slow cooker, slow-cooker meals
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 7 cups
Author SL

Ingredients

  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 can diced tomatoes 28 oz.
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz.
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Diced onion and mince garlic.

  2. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.

  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

  4. Allow sauce to cool before portioning and freezing.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be made on the stove-top.  Sauté onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes.  It can also be pureed with an immersion blender for a smoother sauce.