Four Fantastic Set-It-and-Forget-It Soup Recipes for Your Crock-Pot
Making soup is ideally a fuss-free, anything-goes endeavor, calling for you to simply throw chopped ingredients and seasonings into a pot, cover it all with stock and let it simmer until everything's cooked. Transfer the process to your Crock-Pot and it becomes even more convenient, allowing you to leave everything alone with little more attention than the occasional peek and stir. You can even put the ingredients in the pot in the morning, go to work and come home to the mouth-watering aroma of soup for dinner.
1. Chicken Tortilla Soup
With plenty of chicken, vegetables and a flavorful, spice-packed broth, chicken tortilla soup is worthy of a full meal by itself. Start by putting diced pieces of boneless chicken (use thighs for maximum flavor) and chicken stock, plus chopped onions, bell peppers, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of mild green chilies and garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin in the pot. Cook all of this until the chicken is tender—about 7 or 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high—and then add diced zucchini, green beans and corn. After 30 more minutes, the soup will be ready. Finish it with a squeeze of lime, sliced avocado, fresh cilantro and crispy tortilla strips.
2. Indian-Spiced Lentil, Carrot and Coconut Soup
Lentils and coconut milk both have a natural affinity with Indian spices, and the carrot in this vegetarian soup adds a note of sweetness. Put diced carrots, onions, garlic and red or green lentils into a Crock-Pot, plus enough curry powder to lightly coat all the ingredients. Fresh ginger is also a nice addition. Stir in a can of coconut milk and vegetable stock. The lentils will bulk up considerably as they cook, so make sure there's at least triple the volume of liquid to the dry ingredients. Cook everything on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for up to 8 hours.
3. Minestrone Soup
An Italian classic, minestrone soup is ideal for using up all the vegetables in your refrigerator, with enough pasta added to make a bowlful of it a filling, full meal. Dice onions, carrots, celery and any other fresh veggies you want to use, such as zucchini, bell peppers and broccoli. Add them to the Crock-Pot with canned tomatoes, vegetable stock and small pasta such as elbows or bow-ties. Frozen mixed vegetables and canned beans are good additions too. Cook the soup on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Serve it with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan.
4. Beef and Barley Soup
Cubed chuck, pearled barley, diced onions, carrots and potatoes come together in flavorful beef broth to make a satisfying, warm, wintry soup. After 3 to 4 hours on low or 6 to 8 hours on high, the beef will be fall-apart tender, the barley will be plumped up and the vegetables will be soft and tasty. Boost the flavors of the soup with a dash of soy or Worcestershire sauce, and use the best quality beef broth you can find. Any other vegetables you have on hand, including kale, peas and cauliflower, can also go into the soup.
A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.