Great tortilla soup recipes that don't use a slow cooker?
May 20, 2016 9:04 AM   Subscribe

Pretty much as above - can you tell/point me to a great tortilla soup recipe that doesn't use a slow cooker? I love love love tortilla soup and decided it's about time I learned how to make it. I don't have a slow cooker though and have no interest in buying one. I live in south Texas so I can get pretty much any ingredient required easily. I know I can google for recipes but I'd rather get tried and true recipes. Thanks!
posted by WinterSolstice to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I love this recipe which I first saw on Chowhound. Delish. And, despite the looong list of ingredients it's quite straightforward. By the way, most of the ingredients are spices, no hard-to-find obsure stuff.
posted by primate moon at 9:21 AM on May 20, 2016

Where in S. Texas do you live? Look no further than El Mirador. You should look with extreme suspicion on other commenters' suggestions. :)
posted by 8603 at 9:22 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ok! This is my go-to recipe and it requires nothing more than a single stockpot.
Easy version:
1 tbs vegetable oil
A generous portion (2-3 tbs) of fajita seasoning or taco seasoning, whatever you have on hand.
2 lbs diced white chicken meat
1 onion
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes + 1 cup water
1 can of white corn
1 can of black beans
1 big can of crushed tomatoes (24 -28 oz)
1 tub of melting queso
tortilla chips for garnish

First oil the bottom of the pot and toss in the chicken and the onion. Cook the chicken on high until it's a little brown on the outside. Toss in the seasoning. Stir for 1 minute, then add in your water and bouillon mixture. Toss in all your canned goods. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Before serving, slowly add the queso. It helps to heat the queso so there isn't a huge temperature differential. You can also do that thing where you add a bit of soup to the queso and stir before adding it to the pot, but that requires dirtying a bowl. If done carefully, it will mix perfectly. Serve with chips.

The nice version starts with a whole chicken and involves making stock from scratch. It is a two-day process. For that, I use fresh veggies and I don't use pre-mixed seasoning. But this is what I made all through college and it's easy to keep the canned stuff on hand and make on a whim.
posted by domo at 9:32 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Serious Eats recently posted this tortilla soup that I'm planning to make this weekend. It looks simpler than what you'd find at a restaurant though I'm sure you can still add your bean, corn etc.
posted by inevitability at 9:34 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

This one (from the Homesick Texan's first cookbook) is spectacular, but labor intensive. If you're down for the work, though, it pays off.

Another cookbook I have, Parents Need to Eat, Too, has a very similar tortilla soup recipe that relies on pantry staples but doesn't shortchange the process. (So, instead of toasting and rehydrating dried chiles before making the soup base, it calls for simply blending the ingredients -- but both then have you saute the blended base in oil, much like you might do for a curry, before adding broth and simmering.) Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the recipe specifics online (and I lent my copy of the book to a friend with a newborn). Your local library might have a copy, though.

(Native South Texan here.)
posted by devinemissk at 10:04 AM on May 20, 2016

This is my crazy-easy dump recipe (as in, you dump stuff in and you get soup)

1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can tomatoes with chilis (I like this one)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
taco or fajita seasoning packet
any leftover chicken*, shredded or cubed
tortillas in strips (I use old taco shells for this - this is literally my 'get rid of leftovers' soup).

Saute the onion and green pepper until onion is translucent.
Add 2-3 tablespoons (about 1/3 packet) of fajita or taco seasoning. Saute for 30 seconds to a minute (you can add a little water if it looks like the spices may burn.
Dump in all canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
If you like other things in there (corn, beans, whatever), dump them in too
Add your chicken.

Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Add the tortilla strips to the bowl before you serve.

* Any chicken. I have even used teriyaki chicken and fried chicken cutlets with the breading peeled off. The tomatoes and chilis overpower anything that came before.

Apologies to all other commenters who gave real recipes that involve cooking and work.
posted by Mchelly at 10:22 AM on May 20, 2016

Ok, I'll give you the nice recipe:
1 whole chicken
2 onions
1 bag of sweet peppers
1 head of garlic (you don't have to use all of it)
1 lb of black beans
1 chipotle pepper
1 bay leaf
3-4 tomatoes
chili powder
lime juice
sour cream
tortilla chips

Put 1 lb of black beans in the stockpot and cover with water.
Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover and let soak for at least an hour.
Rub a whole chicken with salt and pepper and a bit of butter.
Roast the chicken.
Once it is cool, shred the meat and crispy skin and set aside.
Drain the beans and put them in the fridge.
Take the bones and fat and put them in your stockpot.
Cover them with water.
Roast under a broiler an onion cut into quarters, some garlic, and about half of the sweet peppers.
Toss them in the pot along with a chipotle pepper and a bay leaf.
Boil the stock for as long as you can. Just let it go until there is a nice film on the water.
Cool and strain.

The next day:
Separate the fat from the stock. Keep the fat for frying stuff in, use it within a few days.
Put a bit of the fat (1 tbs) in the bottom of the stock pot.
Chop up an onion, the rest of the sweet peppers, and some garlic.
Saute them in the chicken fat.
Once everything is getting a little brown, add the stock and the shredded chicken.
Add some white corn, the beans from yesterday, all non-acidic seasonings (the lime juice will keep the beans from softening), any other veggies you want.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Once the beans are softened, add 3-4 chopped tomatoes and 1-2 tbs lime juice. Simmer for about 30 minutes more and serve with sour cream and chips.
posted by domo at 10:26 AM on May 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can make any slowcooker recipe if you have an oven.

Set your oven temperature to roughly 175 to 200 F (below boiling). Make your recipe in an oven proof pot, covered and cook for the same time indicated. A dutch oven is great for this.

A cheap $5 oven thermometer can help here. You do want to be sure you're below boiling.
posted by bonehead at 10:33 AM on May 20, 2016

If you use any recipe with beans, make sure they are fresh beans. Old beans take forever to soften. I've been burned before.
posted by domo at 10:36 AM on May 20, 2016

Rachel Ray's tortilla soup is fantastic. It's one of my go-to recipes when I'm cooking for other people. The combination of roasted vegetables and chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is what makes the broth so delicious. I usually add more chicken.
posted by FiveSecondRule at 11:22 AM on May 20, 2016

Pioneer Woman's tortilla soup recipe is delicious and easy (primarily because it cuts corners by using store-bought stock). If you want to make your own stock from scratch too, here's a great chicken stock recipe from Serious Eats.
posted by ourobouros at 11:55 AM on May 20, 2016

I have used the recipe from the blog "Simply Recipes" multiple times and it always comes out fantastic (as well as most of the other recipes I get from her site). Everyone raves about it and it also freezes very well.
posted by MrsMGH at 12:42 PM on May 20, 2016

I've traveled around Mexico a little bit and when I go out to eat I like to order tortilla soup. No two recipes are alike, and they're all good. My favorite of all is from a little place in Mexico City; it was so different I asked the chef for the recipe. Here are the very basics. You can tweak the ratios and embellish to your liking, or adapt a different recipe.

1 can refried beans
1 can chicken stock
Splash milk/cream

fried tortilla strips

1) Mash beans a little and gently heat refried beans in a 4qt. pot.
2) Mix in chicken stock and bring to a slow simmer.
3) Stir in milk.

Serve and top with thin, fried tortilla strips.

I like adding finely chopped raw onion and cilantro. Tomatoes in some form are also good.

You can adjust the amount of stock or beans, substitute black beans, etc. Soy milk would probably work, I'm not sure about dairy substitutes, but you probably don't even need it.

I've only made this with canned ingredients but a fresh version would be great.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:40 PM on May 20, 2016

This Rick Bayless has always been my go-to (I think the only change I ever make is just buying fresh chicken rather than a rotisserie). Very good and it's easy to multiply and have leftovers.
posted by queseyo at 4:39 PM on May 20, 2016

Thomasina Miers (her from Wahaca) has a great version. I've got the book that that recipe is from, and can confirm that I'd straight up kill for a bowl right now.

posted by Kreiger at 8:49 PM on May 20, 2016

Thanks for all the suggestions! The ones marked as best answer are the ones I am going to try first just based off my own preferences of what goes into tortilla soup! If I'm ambitions I might update again after I try these and let you know the winner :)
posted by WinterSolstice at 12:12 PM on May 21, 2016

I forgot about Border Grill's great tortilla soup, and it's more like the versions you selected here.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:32 PM on May 21, 2016

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