January and this new year has come rushing in with so much vigor and excitement that it seems that it took everything that came in 2015 and put the weight of the ocean pushing furiously behind it. The top cresting with foam as the giant wall of water continues to push us forward and upward.
Change is a powerful, unruly thing. We ask for it of course. Plotting our paths on the map and putting the proper energies and attention to them until they come to pass. And we rejoice and are so thrilled with the growth and the changes it has brought!
And yet like nature, change is also hard and unpredictable. Kevin in his quite drastic career change has rapidly worked his way up in the brewing industry these past 2 years and is brewing full time now. He is quite pleased and yet with it brings a schedule change that we knew would come. Our steady consistent routine of 2015 has rushed into a wave of different start times and end times for him each day as he attends to the needs of the brewery.
He never seems to be flustered by these changes and yet I find myself feeling off kilter….my 4-5 a.m writing sessions while he fills the house with smells of coffee brewing have in recent weeks often been replaced with sleeping in next to him. A welcome relief at first, but weeks into it now I find myself missing this quiet calm of the house before both children come bounding out of bed with limitless energy, ideas and (let’s be honest) non stop talking!
The opposite side, of course, has also changed…some evenings he is home near five and many we don’t see him until well after the children are in bed. Not to worry they get plenty of time with him in the mornings on these days but I have realized that I have learned on his steady arrival time to signal changes in my day.
Dinner for example. My phone will buzz at me with his consistent departure text and like clockwork, he arrives just about 30 minutes later.
Without it, I find myself somewhat lost in the sameness of my day…just me and the children. Work, laundry, dishes, school pickups. We’ve eaten more cans of chili and grilled cheese sandwiches then I care to admit these past few weeks as it has felt so strange to cook just for us without him.
And so this past weekend to find something to ground us I pulled out the slow cooker. I have a feeling that its unending consistency is going to be invaluable as we find our balance again. Dinner on everyone’s own schedule can be a very good thing it turns out.
This slow cooker chicken tortilla soup is can-centric but since it’s the middle of winter and I buy reduced sodium or salt-free canned veggies I don’t feel terrible about it. The secret ingredient that thickens the broth into a creamy thick mouthfeel is refried beans. While that sounds horribly unhealthy they really are not…the regular ones are cooked down with a bit of lard and as we know fat will not kill you. We ate the regular refried beans in this and it was delicious.
That being said most regular refried beans are made with a bit of hydrogenated lard which I’m not crazy about. So the simple swap if you want to avoid it entirely is to buy the Fat Free Refried Beans which shockingly don’t have any weird things in them. Or you could just whip up a batch of your own with real lard or olive oil or butter.
And while I haven’t tested it I would reckon to say you could likely just blend up a can of pinto beans with a bit of stock and it would still thicken the broth just lovely (just bump up your spices some to compensate for them not being seasoned.)
The whole family agreed that this refried bean chicken tortilla soup now officially replaces our regular chicken tortilla soup recipe and they happily ate bowls and bowls of it all weekend. That is something this momma will never complain about.
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup (with Secret Ingredient!)
- 4 bone in skin on chicken thighs
- 1 onion diced
- 1 32 ounce container chicken stock
- 16 ounces water
- 2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid
- 1 can no salt added black beans, drained
- 2 cans no-salt added corn, drained
- 1 30 ounce can refried beans (regular or fat free)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1-4 tablespoons hot sauce heat varies wildly among hot sauce brands so adjust to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- Serve with: avocado slices tomato slices, chopped cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, mexican crema (or sour cream), shredded cheese and lime wedges.
- Add everything to slow cooker except hot sauce and cook on low 8 hours or high 4 hours.
- Remove chicken and discard bones and skin. Shred meat and return to pot.
- Taste and adjust heat with hot sauce.
- Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with toppings.
Soup will be slightly flat without any acidic ingredients so definitely plan to serve with 2-3 lime wedges per person or add lime juice or lemon juice to pot to taste.
Want more great healthy slow cooker recipes? Check out our roundup of 27 Healthy Slow Cooker Recipes for more inspiration!