Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

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Nealey Dozier
Aug 10, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman | Kitchn)

It may seem crazy to make a hearty soup in August, but the occasional dreary, rainy days that pop up this month are a preview of the cooler autumn days ahead. A warm bowl of chicken enchilada soup, made in the slow cooker, is exactly what I crave on those days.

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup: Watch the Video

Chicken enchilada was the signature soup at one of my favorite lunch spots growing up; I still devour a bowl every time I return home. It is a thicker, richer cousin of chicken tortilla soup — like you are eating an actual enchilada with a bowl and a spoon. It is the best of both dishes' worlds!

This soup requires very little prep work for the amount of flavor it yields: I started with my favorite red enchilada sauce as the base; it's so easy but packs in tons of flavor, way more than your average canned stuff. I tossed the sauce into my slow cooker along with corn, beans, and chicken thighs, then left it overnight to work all of its magical slow cooker powers. By morning I had a luscious soup that needed little more than salt and pepper to give it a boost. (Of course, if you feel like gilding the lily, a splash of heavy cream and a handful of cheddar take this recipe over the top!)

But how I really knew this chicken enchilada soup was a keeper? My fiancé asked if we could keep a batch in the refrigerator at all times, so he could eat it everyday. In my house, that's the hands down sign of a real winner. You can bet this dish will be making an appearance from now until deep into winter.

Tester's Notes

This recipe is delicious as written, but will be just as tasty if you need to make a few substitutions to make it work with the ingredients you have on hand. Although we call for Mexican-style chili powder, any chili powder is fine to use here — and if you want the soup to be spicier, simply slice up an extra jalapeño for garnish. Instead of tomato sauce, feel free to use a can of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, or even a jar of salsa.

-Grace, August 2018

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

Serves 6

  • For the enchilada sauce:
  • Neutral cooking oil, such as canola or safflower

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, diced

  • 1

    large jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons

    chili powder, prerably Mexican-style

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 2

    medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    tomato sauce

  • 2 cups

    low-sodium chicken broth, plus more for thinning as needed

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • For the soup:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    yellow corn, drained

  • 1 (15-ounce) can

    black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 2 to 3 pounds

    boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • Heavy cream (optional)

  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

  • Serving options: Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, fresh cilantro

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and jalapeño and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and sugar and stir until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a gentle boil. Transfer to a 5 quart-or larger slow cooker.

Add the corn, beans, and chicken, and stir to combine. Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 7 hours on the LOW setting or 4 hours on the HIGH setting.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces with 2 forks. Stir in a splash of heavy cream if desired. Taste and season with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper as desired. Serve with cheddar cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, and cilantro for garnish if desired.

Recipe Notes

Bone-in chicken thighs: I like bone-in chicken thighs when I want a rich, complex soup, but boneless chicken thighs are easy because you don't have to deal with the bones. If using bone-in chicken thighs, transfer to a clean cutting board before shredding the meat with 2 forks. Discard the skin and bones and return the shredded chicken tot he slow cooker.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If freezing, transfer the cooled soup to freezer-safe plastic bag(s) labeled with recipe name and date. Press out excess air before sealing. Lay bags flat in a single layer in the freezer. (Once frozen, the bags can be stacked neatly.) To thaw, transfer to refrigerator overnight or set the bag in a stockpot of warm water. Reheat in a saucepan over medium-low heat; season to taste.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
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