Tortilla Soup-Pressure Cooked and Unpressured

totillasoup (2)

tortilla soup photo by vsimon

This is one of our most requested menu items, year round.

The ingredients and the process have evolved over the years. It took me a long time to try it in the pressure cooker. Now I wouldn’t go back to a stockpot. But look below for directions if you haven’t added a pressure cooker to your family yet.

Chicken-What Kind to Use

I used to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I’d dice the raw meat and throw it in the pot. Now I prefer bone-in chicken breasts.

They are cheaper, more flavorful, and there is less touching of raw meat. I simply remove the skin and discard it, then plop the breasts in the pressure cooker with the veggies and water.

The meat is easy to shred from the bone after it is cooked. Other bone-in chicken parts work well too, use your favorite.

Tomatoes-What Kind to Use

This is a recipe post, not a food issue post. But I say, go for BPA free tomatoes if possible. The Environmental Working Group is a great reference for info on food issues, from pesticides to BPA. Use the search box to bring up a long list of BPA articles. 

I used to use convenient canned fire roasted tomatoes. But the high levels of BPA in commercially canned tomatoes scares me. Kick the can out the door.

There are enough endocrine disrupters in the world already, thank you very much. Surely, kids and pregnant women should not eat BPA laced foods.

So for a quick, rich, smooth tomato flavor, I have switched to marinara in glass jars. There is probably BPA on the jar lid. I reason, it is less than in a whole can, but I don’t know that to be true.

Diced tomatoes work well, especially if you like tomato chunks. You can use fresh ones, or use frozen from your garden if you have put them up.

Home canned tomato juice stored in glass is also fine. Plastic bottles scare me too, they can leach BPA.

Flavor, Lots of Flavor, from Herbs and Spices

No need for expensive broth here. Use flavorful cumin and garlic. Many lemon pepper and chili powder blends are gluten-free.

This is a great place to practice using tablespoons, rather than 1/4 teaspoon of spice for great flavor. Don’t be shy.

Pickled jalapenos are fun to stock in the fridge. You can heat up the whole pot of soup, or let everyone warm their own bowl to their liking.

Easy Pressure Cooked Tortilla Soup

Serves 6 generously as an entree

1 ¼ lbs boneless, bone-in chicken breast or thighs

3 cups total of chopped onion, celery, and green pepper

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup corn

1 tablespoon lemon pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon minced garlic

3 cups (or more) diced tomatoes, tomato juice, or marinara sauce

cups of water, to thin soup to desired soupiness

pickled jalapenos to taste, diced


1 cup shredded cheese

gluten-free corn tortilla chips

sour cream

1 avocado, diced

Remove skin from chicken, but leave the meat on the bone. Place in pressure cooker with onion, celery, peppers, carrots and corn. Add about 1 cup water and lock the lid on the pressure cooker.

Bring to pressure and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the cooker from the burner and allow it to cool naturally. Or bring the cooker to the sink and run cold water over it to reduce the pressure quickly. It just depends how quickly you want to eat.

Remove chicken from cooker. Remove meat from the bone and shred the meat. Dice it a bit if you like smaller pieces of meat. Add the meat back to the soup and discard the bones.

Add spices- lemon pepper, chili powder, cumin, and garlic.

Add tomatoes and pickled jalapenos to taste. Cook for a few more minutes.

Serve with garnishes. Crush the tortilla chips into the soup if you like.

No pressure cooker?

Easy, but not as quick.

Simply put all the soup ingredients in a stock post and cook until chicken is falling off the bone. Remove chicken from the soup and shred the meat as directed above. Discard the bones.

Pour soup into serving bowls and garnish as above.


Make Lots, Serve Now and Later.

This soup freezes well. Simply cool and store in 3-4 cup glass containers with tight fitting lids. I like to bring the soup to refrigerator temp before storing in the freezer. This helps the soup freeze faster and reduces freezer burn.

Make sure you have fresh garnishes when you want to serve the soup later. 🙂 They don’t freeze so well.

What is your favorite garnish?

6 thoughts on “Tortilla Soup-Pressure Cooked and Unpressured”

  1. Hi Linda-
    This looks gorgeous. Vincent takes the most beautiful photos. I love tortilla soup, it’s actually one of my favorites. Your comments about BPA are good ones and it leaves me wondering if the tomatoes packed in cartons (parmalat) are ok. I love the Pomi brand tomatoes that are packed this way. Hope you’re feeling better! Take care.

  2. Wow, this looks wonderful. I’m a huge tortilla soup fan (have you seen the movie? it’s wonderful as well). By the way, Eden Organics has BPA-free cans. As for toppings, can’t miss with a handful of diced avocados!

    1. Hi Melissa,
      Unfortunately, Eden canned tomatoes still have BPA lined cans. Eden beans are in BPA free cans. For more info see

      I also checked with Muir Glen about their canned tomatees. Here is their reply:

      Dear Ms. Simon:

      Thank you for contacting Muir Glen about bisphenol-A or BPA.

      Bisphenol-A is a component of protective coatings in metal food packaging, and provides an important food safety and quality function in canned foods. Scientific and governmental bodies worldwide have examined the science many times and have concluded that the weight of evidence supports the safety of BPA, including recent comprehensive assessments in Japan and in the European Union.

      In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced another review of BPA. This review in expected to take 18-24 months, and Health Canada and the World Health Organization (WHO) will participate.

      Most metal cans in the food industry utilize BPA in the can lining or can lid. Some of our products do, and many competitors? products do as well.

      Muir Glen continues to believe BPA is safe. However, we know that some of our consumers have wanted us to pursue alternatives. We have been working with our can suppliers and can manufacturers to develop and test alternative linings that do not use BPA for some time.

      One alternative has proven safe and viable in our processing of tomatoes – and Muir Glen will transition to can linings that do not use BPA on our organic tomato products with the next tomato harvest. It is an approved non-epoxy alternative. Can coatings used by Muir Glen also comply fully with all applicable U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for safe use in food contact applications.

      Your views are important to us. Again, thank you for contacting Muir Glen, and thank you for your support of our products.


      Bridget Davis

      Consumer Services

  3. I was so happy to see Kitchen Therapy in my inbox! I’ve miss it. I hope this means you are doing well. You have been in my prayers.

    I make a version of this soup with black beans added (very pretty). My familie’s favorite version uses refried beans. It’s thicker but not quite as pretty.