Tortilla Soup-Pressure Cooked and Unpressured

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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?

Simple and Quick Wild Rice Chicken Soup


wild rice chicken soup photo by vsimon

A client requested Wild Rice Soup, please. I responded “sure”. Then I searched some of my favorite online recipe sites. had a likely candidate, Wild Rice Soup III, submitted by Diane.

It is quick

I adapted it for a pressure cooker, as I often do. Why take an hour to cook something delicious and healthful, when it can be done in 15 minutes?

That is all the time it takes to produce tender wild rice, and really tender chicken breast. To finish the soup, cube the chicken and add more liquid.

It is inexpensive

Bone-in chicken is very budget friendly, as is cooking quickly in a pressure cooker. This is a very useful skill to know. For other recipes, you can shred it (enchiladas), or dice it (salad or casseroles). I am sure you have many other ideas for cooked chicken.

I remove the skin before cooking so the finished dish is less oily. And I still enjoy a few yellow globules of rich chicken fat, just enough for my tastes.

It is simple

Cooking a whole grain and veggies with the chicken streamlines your efforts.

And I often use a frozen blend of onion, celery, and pepper. It goes straight into the pot frozen, no dicing required. You still have to dice the carrots though.

Or you can use any combo of these veggies fresh, to total 4 cups.

Dairy free if need be

This can make a fine broth based soup. Omit the milk and add more water and gluten free flavoring base, or packaged broth. Be sure to read the labels.

Un-pressured soup

Of course, this soup is successful from scratch on the stove top. Those notes are below.

And it is also a good way to use up leftover chicken or wild rice. *chuckle* Most people probably do not have extra cooked wild rice in the fridge. But if you do, you are half way to a steaming bowl of soup.

Cook it once, serve twice, or more

This soup freezes well. So make a big batch, to enjoy now and later.

Wild Rice Chicken Soup in a Pressure Cooker

serves 6 metric measures
1 1/4 pound bone in chicken about .5 kg
10 ounces frozen onion, celery, and pepper blend 280 gm
3/4 cup raw wild rice 135 gm
1 cup diced carrots 130 gm
3 cups water 720 ml
3 cups milk, or more water 720 ml
chicken base, such as Better than Bouillon, optional  

salt and pepper to taste

Remove skin from chicken and discard. Place chicken in the pressure cooker. Add onion blend, raw wild rice, carrots, and 3 cups water.

Lock the top on the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 15 minutes.

Cool the cooker by slow release, or under running water to quickly release the pressure if you are in a hurry to eat.

Remove chicken from the cooker. Allow to cool enough to handle. Remove bones and dice chicken.

Add diced chicken back into the cooker. Add milk or water to desired consistency.

Add some chicken base if you want more chicken flavor. I usually add about a tablespoon.

Serve. 🙂

Stovetop directions

Simply put all the ingredients, except the milk in a stock-pot and simmer for about an hour. You will have to babysit it a bit, and add more water. When the chicken and rice are tender, proceed as above.

Please help me choose a pressure cooker

See Make Friends with a Pressure Cooker. Don’t you want a pressure cooker now?

1-5-10 This recipe was submitted to Amy Green’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. This recipe roundup celebrates fabulous healthy food with many tempting entry’s.

R is for Rice

When you first learn about the gluten free diet, your are told no wheat, rye or barely.  But rice is nice. Maybe you thought, OK, that is simple, easy, and boring.

Au contraire. Rice is a staple all over the world. Think of standard dishes like Latin American arroz con pollo, Indian curries, Asian fried rice, Southern hopping john, Spanish paella, Italian risotto, Japanese sushi. These are some mighty tasty dishes.


field-of-rice photo by USA Rice

Rice forms

Did you think, “white on rice?” You know what I am picturing, plain white rice. But there is so much more to sample. Imagine, 7000 different kinds of rice  grown around the world! With every combination of color, shape, and size that you can think of. See rice and chicken salad with whole grain rice blend below.

Rice is available as a whole grain or refined, enriched or not. Refined rice has the bran and the germ removed. It is white and is less nutritious than whole grain rice. Unless it is enriched-with iron, niacin, thiamin and folic acid.

Dry rice is available raw, partially or fully cooked. Converted rice is steamed under pressure with the hull on, to force some of the nutrients into the grain. It is then refined to remove the hull. It cooks quicker than whole grain rice, but not quite as quickly as white does.

Instant rice is fully cooked rice that is dehydrated and packaged. It is usually blah and mushy, I am not a fan. Some kinds of fully cooked rice are now available, needing only 90 seconds to warm. These are usually seasoned and you must read the label for gluten containing ingredients.


7-kinds-of-rice photo by vsimon

from the top and clockwise- basmati, arborio, just a tiny bit of forbidden, black glutinous (it isn’t all black), black and mahogany blend, whole grain blend, long-grain brown and wild rice blend


Whole grain rice comes in many colors including brown, red, mahogany, and black. And even several scents. Jasmine really does smell like Jasmine flowers, and Wehani rice smells like popcorn when it is cooked. That is enough to get your taste buds going.


Long grain rice– think long and lanky. The grains stay separate and fluffy when cooked and are perfect for dishes like rice pilaf, or as a bed for saucy dishes. Basmati and Jasmine are common kinds of long grain rice.

Medium grain rice– shorter with a bit thicker grain, average in every way. Use it in average dishes. 🙂

Short grain rice– the short fat guys of the rice world. The grains are especially starchy and sticky. I think we should use short grain rice more often.

  • Arborio is a type of refined short grain rice and perfect for tender white risotto and rice pudding. The rice gives the creamy consistency even without adding cream.
  • Sushi rice is another short type and the grains stick together well.
  • Sweet or glutinous rice is a form of short grain rice. Although it is called glutinous because it is sticky, it does not have any gluten in it. I use sweet rice flour all the time to thicken sauces, even for clients that are not gluten free. It simply works better than wheat flour, does not clump after being frozen and thawed, and it is inexpensive. It imparts no flavor or color to the sauce.
  • I use sweet brown rice, dried fruit and spice to make breakfast risotto in my crock-pot overnight. This risotto is a bit toothsome with a sweet syrupy base. Think about inhaling deeply as you arise to the fragrance of warm cinnamon. I will post this recipe in the cool fall.


It is all small, but some kinds are smaller than others. Really small, only ¼ of an inch long. It is cute and it cooks quickly.


white rice photo by USA Rice

Cooking rice

Whole grain rice can take 30-45 minutes on the stovetop. But I cook it in the pressure cooker all the time. This usually takes only 10-15 minutes.

White rice takes about 15 minutes on the stovetop.

Dry instant rice can be ready in 5-10 minutes.

Many people swear by their rice cookers. And some more just swear at them. I have not tried a rice cooker, so cannot comment on them. I simply do not want another space taking tool in the kitchen.


I like whole grain, just as nature intended. All the pretty colors and fiber intact. Though any rice, even whole grain, is not really a high fiber food. Enriched rice is lower in fiber, but higher in iron, niacin, thiamin and folic acid. It is higher than the original whole grain rice the processors started with. Especially for folate.

One cup of cooked enriched white rice provides about 1/3 the daily requirement for folic acid. Maybe that is important to you. Or maybe you take a daily multivitamin and it does not really matter.

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rice-chicken-red-grape-salad-with-whole-grain-rice-blend  photo by vsimon

Whole Grain Rice, Chicken, and Red Grape Salad

This is adapted long ago from a “country” magazine,                                                 but I am sorry I do not know which one.

Serves 6                                              Metric measures

1 cup whole grain rice blend               170 gm

2 cups water                                       500 ml

1 pound cooked, diced chicken           1/2 kg

1 1/2 cup red grapes                          150 gm

1 cup peas, fresh or frozen                 150 gm

2 celery ribs, sliced                              same

4 green onions, sliced                         same

2 tablespoons vinegar                        30 ml

1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce   15 ml

2 tsp toasted sesame oil                    10 ml

1/2 cup slivered almonds                    60 gm

Put rice and broth in a pressure cooker. Lock and bring to pressure. Cook rice for 15 minutes. Allow to cool naturally. Or cook on the stovetop according to package directions.

Allow rice to cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Serve chilled, room temperature, or warmed.

*I have attempted to add metric measures for our friends in the rest of the world. Please let me know if some of it makes no sense.

What is your favorite rice, and your favorite rice dish?