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?

Snack on Crunchy Buckwheat Groats

crunchy buckwheat groats

seasoned crunchy buckwheat groats photo by vsimon

It was difficult to get this shot. Vincent kept eating them.

Plain buckwheat groats have a soft crunch right out of the bag. But I wanted to try dressing them up a bit, and this was an addictive hit.

Groat is a weird word

Yes, it is. It means a grain without the hull. Except that buckwheat isn’t truly a grain. And it is not wheat. So maybe it isn’t the best word here, but it is what this whole seed is called.

Super Duper Nutrition

We need tee shirts that say, “Eat more buckwheat!”

Buckwheat improves your flow. Your cardiovascular flow that is. It lowers cholesterol and high blood pressure.

It also improves glucose and insulin response.

And it quiets the “hungry, hungry” whispers for a long time.

Keeping it gluten free

Balsamic vinegar is gluten free.

You’ll have to look for gluten free soy sauce. Caution, caution! Many brands are made with wheat and soy. They will have wheat on the ingredient label and the allergen statement.

You want soy sauce made only with soy. It may be called soy sauce or tamari.  You can probably findit locally, or order online.

Crunchy Buckwheat Groats

serves 1 husband with the munchies metric measures
1 cup buckwheat groats 170 gm
1 tablespoon butter or oil 15 gm
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 15 ml
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce 15 ml

Put butter and groats in a small saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat until the buckwheat darkens a bit and you get a fragrant nutty whiff. This will take only a few minutes.

Sprinkle vinegar and soy sauce over groats. Stir to combine well.

Spread groats in a shallow pan. Allow to cool and dry, about 15 minutes.

Hide them if you need them for later.

They store well on the counter, no special treatment needed.

What can I do with these savory little nuggets?

Eat out of hand.

Add to trail mix.

Top salads.

Sprinkle over veggies.

Your idea here ____________ .

“Eat more buckwheat!”

Update 1-26-10 This recipe was submitted to Amy Green’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. Be sure to hike over there and add you best recipe.