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?

Cranberry Carrot Salad with Lemon and Honey

carrot-salad (14) 

cranberry carrot salad photo by vsimon

Do you need a super quick crunchy salad? Perfect for dinner, or a brown bag lunch?

The simplest recipes are often the best. If you are short on time and just want the recipe, skip the middle and go to the bottom of the post. That is the simplest way. You could be eating this in five minutes.

But keep reading if you want info on the ingredients.


If you buy shredded carrots, this mixes up in just a few minutes. Sweet, tart, and lively lemon flavor.

I like to keep a bag on hand. They hold up well, and are easy additions to soups, green salads, and even muffins.

Organic carrots

We can get shredded organic carrots in our market. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) website publishes a list of produce that has the highest, and lowest levels of pesticides.

The Dirty Dozen is the most likely to have high levels, and EWG recommends you by these items organic. EWG also publishes the Clean 15, produce that is least likely to have high pesticide levels. Buying organic doesn’t matter so much here.

You can print a wallet sized reference to take with you to the store. Carrots are #11 on the Dirty Dozen list.


Does a cranberry a day keep the doctor away? No, you probably need to eat  more than one. But a serving a day offers many health benefits.


I like to use organic lemons because I am using the outside, the part that would be sprayed with pesticides. Organic lemons are smaller than regular lemons, so you might need two here.

Also, organic lemons are not waxed. According the The World’s Healthiest Foods web site, sometimes the wax is mixed with casein, a protein in milk. This would be a very low amount, but might be important to know if you have a severe milk allergy.

Lemon Zest

At my house, if a dish has fresh lemon juice, it has zest too.  I never miss the happy opportunity to inhale the fresh scent of lemon zest. You can smell it across the room, but it is even better right under your nose.

A microplane makes swift work of zesting the peel. Personally, I don’t measure the zest and use all of it, from the whole lemon. As you probably can guess, I can’t get too much lemon zest.

If you are using a different tool to zest, be sure to catch just the outer yellow rind. The white pith is unpleasantly bitter.

Cranberry Carrot Salad

serves 4 metric measures
4 cups shredded carrots 360 gm
½ cup dried cranberries 75 gm
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 45 ml
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest weightless?
2 tablespoons honey 30 ml

Stir it all together until it glistens.

Serve right away if you like chewy cranberries.

Store in the fridge and serve the next day if you like plump, soft cranberries.

BTW, lemon juice is a good source of citrate. Helpful to prevent kidney stones. Maybe a lemon a day keeps the doctor away too.

PS I am changing the subject now. This is so cool! Bon Appetit magazine is holding a blogger Holiday Bake-Off. I have entered Pumpkin Custard, Hold the Dairy. Wouldn’t you love to see a gluten free, dairy free winner?

There are several categories, including cakes, pies, custards, cookies, more. If you are a blogger, add your creations at BA Holiday Bake-Off.

Everyone can vote for your favorite in each category. I would be honored to receive your vote.