Recipe Review

One Year Later, Reddit’s Slow Cooker “Upvote Soup” Is As Popular As Ever

updated Feb 11, 2021
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Credit: Patty Catalano
Slow Cooker Soup

In the age of influencers, algorithms, and spon-con, it can hard to know where to look for unfiltered, honest opinions. That is, until you’ve explored Reddit. While the platform may look like an endless thread of ruthless banter, it’s where many viral trends and memes emerge — and also the source of some of our most exciting recipe discoveries (we’re looking at you, murder cookies).

Last year around this time, a recipe for a slow cooker soup — simply referred to as “Upvote Soup” on Reddit — got a lot of attention on the platform. I had to know: What was it about this soup that had caused such a stir? After tasting it, I learned that its popularity is likely due to three things: its short, pantry-friendly ingredient list, a smart technique, and delicious flavor the whole family will love.

Below, I’m sharing what to know before you make it yourself, and what I’ve learned one year later (it’s clear that this beloved soup isn’t going anywhere).

Credit: Patty Catalano

What Is “Upvote Soup”?

“Upvote Soup” is Reddit’s nickname for Slow Cooker Creamy Tortellini, Spinach and Chicken Soup from the blog 365 Days of Slow + Pressure Cooking. The soup gained so much traction on the r/Slowcooking subreddit that it garnered the nickname “Upvote Soup.” (An upvote is equivalent to a “like” on Reddit, and posts with more upvotes get prime visibility. The soup’s nickname was later shortened to “The Soup” once moderators determined that using the word “upvote” in the soup’s name was against the subreddit’s policies.)

Though the recipe was originally published on the blog in October 2017, it wasn’t until December 2019 that a Redditor informed the blogger of its cult following on Reddit.

Credit: Patty Catalano

How To Make Slow Cooker Creamy Tortellini, Spinach and Chicken Soup

This recipe actually starts in the microwave, not the slow cooker. Chopped onions, garlic, and herbs are mixed with flour and oil, then microwaved for about five minutes to create a shortcut roux used to thicken the soup. This microwave technique results in a lump-free roux, and rids the flour of its raw flavor. Be sure to stop the microwave two or three times to stir the mixture, since microwaves don’t always heat evenly.

You’ll then add the onion mixture to a 6-quart slow cooker and add chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours on LOW or 3 to 4 hours on HIGH.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Add baby spinach, frozen tortellini, grated Parmesan cheese, and warmed heavy cream or half and half to the slow cooker and turn to HIGH. Cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, dice or shred the chicken and add back to the slow cooker. Ladle into bowls once the soup is hot and the tortellini is thawed.

Credit: Patty Catalano

5 Things to Know Before You Make “The Soup”

  • Microwave roux really works. A roux is a cooked mixture of flour and fat that’s added to soup and sauces to give them a thick and creamy consistency. One of the most commonly-asked questions about this soup is whether this step can be done on the stovetop, and the answer is yes. But, I encourage you try this shortcut method, especially if you’re filling the slow cooker during the morning rush.
  • Don’t substitute chicken breasts, but a sausage swap is ok. The most shockingly delicious part of this soup were the tender and juicy pieces of chicken thighs. The thighs cook gently in the seasoned broth, soaking up flavor and retaining moisture. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, on the other hand, will become tough after an entire day of slow cooking. If you’re looking to spice things up, many redditors recommend adding browned sausage to the soup instead of chicken.
  • Cook for 5 to 6 hours on LOW. The recipe calls for cooking the soup on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. The chicken thighs weren’t completely cooked at 4 hours, so I recommend using the longer end of the cooking time, and be sure to check the chicken’s temperature with an instant-read thermometer.
  • Adding frozen tortellini cools the soup significantly. The 10-minute timing is spot on for thawing frozen tortellini in the soup, but the ice-cold pasta did cool the soup down. Make sure to turn the slow cooker to HIGH before adding the tortellini to keep the soup piping hot.
  • Cook tortellini separately if you anticipate leftovers. It is in pasta’s nature to soak up all available broth when left in the fridge overnight. So, if you anticipate eating the soup over the course of a few days, cook the tortellini separately and add it to each individual serving.

If you’re wondering what other insights Reddit readers have, search “The Soup” or “Upvote Soup” in the Slowcooking subreddit. Trust me: you’ll find plenty more ways to riff on this viral dinner.

One Year Later, the Soup Is Still Going Strong

It’s been a little over a year since I tried the chicken tortellini soup made famous on the r/Slowcooking subreddit, and there are still people cooking through this soup for the first time (and posting photos to prove it). Within these more recent recipe threads, two themes stood out, starting with the microwave roux.

Never have a mixture of fat and flour elicited more controversy than in this soup. Instead of starting the roux on the stovetop, this recipe uses the microwave to kickstart the thickener and remove the raw flour flavor. Sure, you can take out a skillet instead, but when ease and convenience are important, give the microwave a try.

Other impassioned cooks eschewed the inclusion of chicken in this trumped up noodle soup, insisting that spicy Italian sausage is the only way to go. I don’t think you can go wrong with either. — Patty Catalano, February 2021

Curious about other viral Reddit recipes? Check out our reviews of the Elevator Lady Spice Cookies, Red Dog Toast, and Nana’s Devil’s Food Cake.