Great Soups to Make in Your Slow Cooker

Saturday, May 19, 2012
Slow cooker soups are an easy way to prepare a nutritious, healthy meal. What could be better on a cold winter evening than coming home to a savory soup or stew that’s hot, ready and waiting for you? And, with little preparation time, you won’t have to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
When you’re using your slow cooker for soup, these tips will help in the preparation, especially if you’re adapting your own regular soup recipe to a slow cooker.
Some vegetables handle longer cooking times better than others. You can add onions, root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, winter squashes, tomatoes, celery, cauliflower and broccoli at the beginning. Most spices should also be added at the beginning.
Softer vegetables like peas, corn, bell peppers and spinach are better added toward the end. Likewise you’ll want to add rice, pasta or grains near the end of the process.
When you’re slicing your ingredients, do your best to cut them all to the same size. That aids them in cooking at the same rate as well as making the soup easier to consume.
Taking time to brown or sear the meat before you put it in the soup will yield richer, more intense flavors.
Remember that there’s little evaporation in a slow cooker. If you appear to have excess liquid, remove the lid for the last third or so minutes of cooking time so that some of it can evaporate.
Those simple tips will help make your soups more enjoyable.
Here are three great recipes you can try in your slow cooker:
Hearty Potato Soup
Ingredients: 6 potatoes, peeled and cut in to ½ inch cubes (about 2 ½ pounds), 2 medium onions, diced, 2 carrots, thinly sliced, 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced, 2 (14 ½ ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 ½ cups fat-free half-and-half, Italian Bread Bowls, fresh celery leaves for garnish.
Preparation: Combine the first 8 ingredients in a 4 ½ quart slow cooker, cook covered at high for three hours or until vegetables are tender, stir together flour and half-and-half into soup. Cover and cook 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Serve in Italian Bread Bowls. Garnish with celery leaves if desired.
Butternut Squash Soup with Thai Gremolata
Ingredients: 2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces, 2 cups chicken broth, 1 14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk, ¼ cup finely chopped onion, 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1 tablespoon fish sauce or soy sauce, 1 ½ teaspoon Asian chili sauce (Sriacha) sauce or crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 Thai Gremolata (from recipe below)
Preparation: In a 3 ½ or 4 quart slow cooker stir together squash, broth, coconut milk, onion, brown sugar, fish sauce, and Asian chili sauce. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours or on high for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Use and immersion blender to carefully blend soup until completely smooth. (or transfer the mixture in batches to a food processor or blender; or use a potato masher to mash the mixture nearly smooth) Stir in lime juice. Ladle into bowls and top with That Gremolata. If desired, serve with lime wedges.
Thai Gremolata
Ingredients: ½ cup snipped fresh basis or cilantro, ½ cup chopped peanuts, 1 tablespoon finely shredded lime peel
Preparation: In a small bowl, stir together basil peanuts and lime peel
Tomatillo Chicken Soup
Ingredients: 6 medium tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed, 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, 1 32 ounce box chicken broth, 1 medium green sweet pepper, chopped, ½ cup chopped red onion, 1 stalk celery, chopped, 1 4 ounce can diced green chiles, 2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro, 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (avoid contact with skin as much as possible), 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 2 teaspoons chili powder, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, Dairy sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped red sweet pepper, sliced jalapeno peppers, snipped fresh cilantro and/or tortilla chips (optional)
Directions: Chop three tomatillos. Place remaining tomatillos in blender. Cover; blend until smooth. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine pureed and chopped tomatillos, chicken, broth, sweet pepper, onion, celery, chiles, cilantro, jalapeno, cumin, lime juice, chili powder, garlic, and 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cover; cook on low for 6 to 7 hours or high for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Remove chicken; let stand until cool enough to handle. Shred chicken; return to soup. If desired, top with sour cream, additional chopped red sweet pepper or jalapeno peppers, snipped cilantro, and/or tortilla chips. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
These are just a few options. The possibilities of slow cooker soups are endless.


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