Traditional chicken parmesan, with its pan-fried and breadcrumb coated chicken breast cutlets smothered in tomato sauce and then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked until melty, is pure comfort food. Usually served with a side of spaghetti and sauce, this delicious meal can easily be close to a days worth of calories.
Did you know The Cheesecake Factory makes a Chicken Parmesan "Pizza Style" with almost 2,000 calories (1,940 calories) and 188 g fat?
Olive Garden's version of Chicken Parmigiana has about half as much, weighing in with 1,020 calories. And an order from Macaroni Grill will be about 1,610 calories.
While it is possible to make a lighter and healthier baked chicken parmesan, sometimes you might just want all the same great Italian flavors with a much simpler preparation and that's where this slow cooker soup recipe comes in.
Easy recipes like this are perfect for busy weeknights. With just a handful of easy to find, everyday ingredients, you can make this easy Chicken Parm Soup right in your Crock Pot. One of my favorite recipes for a cold day.
And to capture the flavors of the traditional golden brown crispy coating, you will have to heat Italian-style panko bread crumbs in butter in a skillet on the stove top. You definitely don't want to skip this step. I think it's the toppings that really make this soup—crispy breadcrumbs, shredded Parmesan and fresh herbs, which is optional but highly recommended.
How Many Calories and WW Points in this Chicken Parmesan Soup?
According to my calculations, each serving has about 280 calories.
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How to Make Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup, Step by Step
Step 1: Gather and prepare all ingredients: onion, red bell pepper, garlic, boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used chicken tenders since they were on sale), crushed tomatoes with basil, chicken broth, salt, pepper, whole wheat orzo pasta, and for the topping: butter, Italian-style crispy panko bread crumbs and shredded Parmesan. Optional - fresh basil, Italian parsley, or crushed red pepper flakes for a little kick.
Step 2: Add onion, red bell pepper, garlic cloves, chicken, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Stir to combine.
Step 3: Cover and cook on LOW heat for 5-6 hours, or on HIGH heat for 3-4 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through and peppers are tender.
Step 4: About 30 minutes before serving, stir pasta in and continue cooking until it has softened.
Step 5: Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Over medium heat, add butter to a medium skillet and heat until melted. Stir in panko crumbs and continue cooking until golden, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
Step 6: To serve, divide soup evenly between 8 bowls (about 1-½ cups each). Top soup in each bowl with toasted panko crumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese. If desired, chopped basil or parsley would make a nice addition.
Step 7: Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator, keeping the leftover toppings separate.
Recipe Notes, Substitutions & Variations
I like to use chopped frozen onions when making slow cooker soups. Something about the freezing process helps them breakdown and soften more quickly in crock pot recipes. Plus, when you are short on time, it's a real time saver.
If you are using fresh chopped onion, you may want to add the onion and chopped bell pepper to a small microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute or two before adding the slow cooker. Again, this just gives them a head start while cooking. You can also do this in a small skillet on the stove top if you prefer. Or, if your slow cooker has a stove top or sauté function, or you will be using the slow cooker function on your Instant Pot (affiliate link) to make this soup, you can first soften them right in the same pot!
Orzo pasta is available in most well-stocked grocery stores, but I think any short cut small size dry pasta should work as a substitute—ditalini, orecchiette, rotini, or small elbow macaroni.
Be sure to stir your bread crumbs while heating them, otherwise they may burn.
Add your soup toppings (toasted bread crumbs, shredded Parmesan and chopped herbs) right before serving. If you add them too long before you sit down to eat, you may end up with a much thicker soup as the breadcrumbs are absorbed into the soup.
The same goes with storing leftovers—store your soup separately from the bread crumbs.
Enjoy this flavorful soup with your favorite garlic bread and simple green salad.
Ways to Use Leftovers
Bump up the nutrition in this soup by tossing in a handful of fresh baby spinach while reheating leftovers.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup
- ½ cup chopped onion (I used frozen)
- 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes with basil, undrained
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup whole wheat orzo pasta, uncooked
- ¼ cup butter
- 1 cup Crispy panko bread crumbs Italian-style
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Fresh chopped basil, parsley or crushed red pepper flakes, if desired
- Add onion, red bell pepper, garlic, chicken, tomatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper to slow cooker. Stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours, or on HIGH for 3-4 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink and cooked through and peppers are tender.
- About 30 minutes before serving, stir in orzo and continue cooking until pasta has softened.
- Meanwhile, prepare the topping. Over medium heat, add butter to a medium skillet and heat until melted. Stir in panko crumbs and continue cooking until golden, about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- To serve, divide soup evenly between 8 bowls (about 1-½ cups each). Top each bowl with toasted panko crumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese. If desired, chopped basil or parsley would make a nice addition.
- Store any leftover soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator, keeping the leftover toppings separate.
Recipe source: Pillsbury
*Points® calculated by WW. *PointsPlus® and SmartPoints® calculated by Simple Nourished Living; Not endorsed by Weight Watchers International, Inc. All recipe ingredients except optional items included in determining nutritional estimates. SmartPoints® values calculated WITHOUT each plan's ZeroPoint Foods (Green plan, Blue plan, Purple plan) using the WW Recipe Builder.
If you liked this Crockpot Chicken Parmesan Soup, here are a few more slow cooker recipes to consider:
- Crock Pot Pizza Soup
- 5-Ingredient Crock Pot Chicken Parm Lasagna
- Slow Cooker Beefy Tomato Soup with Macaroni
- Slow Cooked Italian Meatball Soup
- Stuffed Pepper Slow Cooker Soup
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