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?

The Intolerant Family Cookbook, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Family Friendly Food. Review and Give-Away.

ITFamily cookbook cover

I get fun things in the mail, often unexpected. One day I received this cookbook, and a lovely letter from one of the authors, Ellen Fitzsimmons. Could I review the book and offer a give-away on the blog?

Sure I could. Ellen and her daughter Molly Lepeska have written an excellent, tasty, healthy cookbook. Ellen is dairy and gluten intolerant, Molly is a type 1 diabetic.

Ellen is also a home economist, with over 30 years of experience in adult education with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. Molly works in health communication and is a mom, to twin toddlers and a new baby. Her family currently lives in the Netherlands. The whole extended family loves good food and good cooking.

My 7 Favorite Things about The Intolerant Family Cookbook

1. Flavor, flavor, flavor. These are tasty recipes.

2. Whole, unprocessed ingredients. 

3. Variety of cuisines.

4. Simple to follow recipes from soup to nuts. Also snacks, salads, veggies, entrees, starches, and desserts. You can cook and eat all day.

5. ITF Tips (Intolerant Family Tips), these are handy sidebars, a total of nineteen. Examples include, “Know your Milk Substitutes” and my personal favorite “Meet the Tomatillo”. 

6. Whole-grain gluten-free flour blend for baked goods.

7. Nutritional analysis for each recipe.

Some Recipes to Tempt You

“Faster than Take-Out” recipes

Chicken and Broccoli, flavored with fresh ginger, garlic, jalapeno, onion, and a bit of brown sugar.

Sweet-Spicy Glazed Salmon seasoned with brown sugar, mustard, rice vinegar, and fish sauce.

Beef Wrapped in Lettuce, a great appetizer, loaded with veggies and spices. An alternative recipe using ground turkey is included.

Super Fast Mediterranean Fish, topped with tomato, green beans, fresh lemon, and black olives.

Ethnic Variety

German-Easy Kraut and Pork Chops.

Mexican-Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde, and Green Tomatillo Chili. Both recipes use tomatillos, everyone should try tomatillos. I love tomatillos. Fresh and light green, they taste a bit like lime. Once you try them you will use them frequently. Mexican will never be the same.

Indian-Carrot Curry Soup. With coconut milk, peanut butter, curry powder, ginger, garlic, onions. And garnished with chopped peanuts.

Italian-Antipasto. A beautiful serving tray of steamed asparagus, fresh or roasted tomatoes, artichoke bottoms, hearts of palm, yellow pepper strips, black and green olives. Drizzled with home-made herb and olive oil dressing. Add GF/DF pepperoni, hard cooked egg slices, or oil packed white tuna if you want a heartier tray.

Midwestern-When It Has to Be Fried Fish. This makes me smile, we are in Wisconsin after all. Friday night fish fries are a tradition here. This recipe uses white fish, cornmeal seasoned with black pepper, paprika, and cayenne. The fish is dipped in rice milk, then the cornmeal mix, then fried with a golden crust. It is a lovely tradition.

Or Chunky Red Chili, made with beef, tomatoes, peppers, onion, and lots of chili powder. A cold weather Midwestern mainstay.

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fresh tomatillos in the Cuernavaca, Mexico Mercado photo by lsimon

New to You Ingredients

Perhaps you thought, tomatillos, fish sauce, fresh ginger, rice vinegar-“I don’t know about those”. I encourage to to become acquainted, you will soon be fast friends.

These ingredients add zest to life and cooking. They are easy to obtain and stock in your kitchen. The Intolerant Family Cookbook is happy to make the introduction.

Do you wonder if your family will like these? They will. I think it is a crime to limit kids choices to nuggets and fries. There is so much wonderful food to be enjoyed. The secret is to start early. The Intolerant Family Cookbook shows you how.

Nutritional Analysis

Each recipe includes calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.

Knowing carbs and fiber is crucial to tightly manage glucose and insulin for folks with type 1 diabetes. Ellen and Molly use limited amounts of sugar, no sugar-free products. Better to use the real thing, than a substitute. Some sugar-free products cause GI distress, and who needs that?


Intolerant Family Cookbook is there, with useful info and updates. You can become a fan.

Gluten-Free Cooking Expo

You can meet Ellen Fitzsimmons at the Gluten-Free Cooking Expo Vendors Fair April 17-18 in Lisle, Il. You will find her kind and thoughtful, she doesn’t seem intolerant at all.

Enter to Win an Intolerant Family Cookbook

Simply leave a comment below by April 21, 2010 and a working email. You do not need to publish the email in the comment. It will be recorded in the comment form and I will be able to access it. But please enter it carefully. Too many times, I need to choose another winner because of emails that are undeliverable.

Updated 4-22-2010

Congratulations to our winner Alissa, chosen by random number generator. She was the first to comment, sometimes it pays to be first.

I Have Cancer, Again

gazing ball

me shooting me in a gazing ball in our back yard January 2010

Bloggers endlessly study headlines, what will the search engines like?

This isn’t one I ever wanted to write. And I do care if the search engines send traffic. I invite interested folks to follow my Caring Bridge site. Enter lsimon in the Visit a Website space.

It says it is private. When I set the settings with minimal privacy, I can check who has registered.  Maybe I am addicted to blog stats, and this way I get a few. But really, everyone is welcome to visit. And share the site with others you think may benefit.

I write about emotions, costs, day to day annoyances, whatever is pertinent. It is truthful, sometimes humorous, sometimes not pretty.

I didn’t want to hijack Kitchen Therapy into a cancer blog. I haven’t had the energy or appetite to post here in over a month. But both are coming back. I an itching to do a real gluten-free food post soon.

So I decided to write about my cancer at Caring Bridge. It is a welcome help to people with severe health problems. It simplifies communication between friends, family, and colleagues, over the internet. A free service for patients, please share this resource with anyone you know who could benefit. Setting up a site is super easy.

Getting daily comments of support, affirmation, and jokes is uplifting for the patient. Getting updates without calling and disturbing the patient is calming for everyone else.

My personal site makes the most sense if you read My Story first. Then the Journal entries in chronological order.

Being a gluten-free food blogger has added joy, color, texture, and flavor to my life. I thank all of you who read Kitchen Therapy.