Planned Leftovers: Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Got leftover chicken and wondering how to use it? I use Planned Leftovers cooking! Turn leftover chicken, a few dried out corn tortillas and a few cans of veggies to turn leftovers into delicious, hot & satisfying Chicken Tortilla Soup! 

Planned Leftovers: Use leftover chicken, a few dried out corn tortillas, a few cans of veggies to make delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup! #TexasHomesteader

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Eliminating Food Waste Using Leftovers

I’ve written before about how I love the Cook-Once, Eat-Twice method of cooking. And of course its close relative the Planned Leftovers method too. Using these two cooking methods reduce food waste.

With Cook-Once Eat-Twice cooking you might for instance cook several meatloaves or stuffed peppers so you can freeze it to enjoy the same entrée later.

With Planned Leftovers you cook much more than you’ll eat at one meal so you can remake the leftovers into something completely new and delicious on another day. 

I wrote recently about cooking el mucho quantities of pork roast to use for planned leftovers. But today I’ll share the planned leftovers I enjoyed from a recent Slow Cooker Sticky Chicken I made.

Planning Your Leftovers Meals

You see, we had company coming for a visit so I plopped a whole chicken and some spices into the slow cooker to cook a whole chicken. My Sticky Chicken recipe includes lots of savory spices.  

Slow cooker spicy sticky chicken recipe. #TexasHomesteader

Heck if you’re gonna have company you might as well make something delicious that requires precious little time in the kitchen #amiright??


After that chicken was enjoyed that night I pulled the remaining meat from the bones & then turned that carcass into plenty of Homemade Chicken Stock (I add a secret ingredient to leach more calcium out of those bones!)  That leftover chicken meat & broth will come in handy for today’s soup.

Chicken broth label written on glass jar with permanent marker - can be easily scrubbed off later. #TexasHomesteader

Now I typically have lots of options for remaking these chicken leftovers. I’ve written about 6 ways I’m able to make meals from a single chicken

But today’s cold and rainy, a perfect day for a Spicy Chicken Tortilla SOUP!

Assembling The Chicken Tortilla Soup

So I take that leftover chicken & shred it up, plopping it into my slow cooker. Then I added about a cup and a half of my homemade broth & 2 cans of diced tomatoes – juice & all. 

Finally I drained a can of black beans and a quart jar of Home-Canned Corn and dumped them in as well. I tossed in some minced garlic & chopped onions, a little cumin, salt & pepper & gave it all a quick stir.

When the top was replaced onto the slow cooker I set the dial to low and let the flavors all marry for about 3-4 hours.

(I used this Homestead Hack to keep the slow cooker at a nice heat level during its cooking time.)

Planned Leftovers: Use leftover chicken, a few dried out corn tortillas, a few cans of veggies to make delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup! #TexasHomesteader

Then right before serving I took the last 2 dried-out corn tortillas that were left in the fridge from our Homemade Taco Shells a few nights ago. I sliced those tortillas into about 1/4″ strips that were 2-3″ long and stirred them into the hot soup.

Some people like to lightly fry these corn tortilla strips to give them a little extra crunch before placing them atop the soup.

Sometimes I do that too, but typically I’ll just add the tortilla strips as they are. In & out of the kitchen FAST with fewer dishes to clean is my jam, y’all.

Fast Homemade Cornbread

But what should I make to go with it? I decided to bake up a skillet of Spicy Jalapeno Cornbread, what a perfect accompaniment!

Finally our meal was ready to be served. I ladled out hearty bowls of soup, sprinkling a little cheese on top.

Aaaahhhh – sure hits the spot on a cold rainy day! And there’s enough left over for us to enjoy for lunch tomorrow too!

Chicken Tortilla Soup: Use leftover chicken, a few dried out corn tortillas, a few cans of veggies to make delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup! #TexasHomesteader

Planned Leftovers Reduces Food Waste

By utilizing planned leftovers cooking, I’m able to incorporate leftovers from several different meals into this one delicious soup. Oh yeah, reducing food waste is my secret super power! 

The corn tortillas were leftover from our carnitas tacos the other night, leftover chicken & broth from my slow cooker sticky chicken meal previously, and using some home-canned corn from the pantry.

The beauty of this soup is that you can use whatever you’ve got. Want your soup meatier? Feel free to add more chicken. Don’t like black beans? Add canned pintos instead or leave them out completely. 

The world is your oyster, make it the way you & your family like it.

But by cooking this way I’m able to make sure no leftover food is left to go bad, and our grocery budget stays tiny – yet we eat very well. 

Leftovers can be delicious!

Lazy Cooking: Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, corn tortillas, leftover, soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings 4



  • 1-2 cups leftover cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
  • 2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 15-oz can corn, drained (I used a home-canned pint)
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth I used homemade broth
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2-4 corn tortillas, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese



  1. Place shredded or chopped leftover cooked chicken into a slow cooker. Add all other ingredients and stir gently.
  2. Cover & cook on low heat for 3 hours to allow flavors to marry.

  3. Just before serving, add tortilla strips to slow cooker. Stir to blend. Serve soup in soup bowls, topping each serving with cheese.


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5 thoughts on “Planned Leftovers: Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

  1. Katrin

    I’ve never tried this kind of leftover, but it looks so yummy and I love chicken tortillas! Thank you so much for sharing at Sweet Inspiration, have a lovely Sunday!

  2. Leanna

    Thank you for joining linking up at the #HomeMattersParty This chicken soup looks delicious. I don’t like cooking very much, its a necessary chore for me. The idea of cooking once for two meals, while saving money and eating healthy is very appealing.

    I remember my grandmother always planning her next meal based on the leftovers of the meal before. She wasted nothing. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m like you Leanna – I cook our meals from scratch daily but see it as a necessary chore. But by using planned leftovers I’m able to spend precious little time cooking and that really appeals to me! LOL ~TxH~

  3. ColleenB.~Texas

    It has been soup weather that’s for sure and this looks delicious. Soup to warm the soul…………….and That’s a Good Thing.
    Have a great day Tammy and a wonderful weekend

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I have to agree with ya there Colleen. This made a delicious meal for me to pack up & take with us on the road to visit my dad. ~TxH~


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