My #1 kitchen appliance is my slow cooker. My #2 kitchen appliance is my other slow cooker. I am thinking about getting a third slow cooker if I can find one for a good deal. Yes, I have an obsession. (Oh, and I also love my boiling kettle, but I’ll save that talk for a later date.)
Why? Because I work 40+ hours a week outside my home & we are on a tight budget since we are working very hard to pay off student loans, but I am determined to feed my family a whole foods diet. This means we eat a lot of slow cooker meals, many of which are some type of soup.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: In the 2 1/2 years I have been married and using a slow cooker, I think I have only used a soup recipe a handful of times. I save a lot of time (and money) by not having to sort through soup recipes trying to find one that I have all the ingredients for or going to the grocery store to pick up ingredients I don’t already have. I takes me about 10 minutes from start to finish.
Not only is homemade soup fast & easy, but it is nourishing, filling & frugal! If you’re looking to cut back on your time in the kitchen, stay within your budget, improve your health and immunity, trim down your waist line, or all of the above, making homemade slow cooker soup is for you!
Here’s what you need:
- One nice, large slow cooker (or two, or three)
- Stock (homemade chicken or homemade vegetable are preferable and can also be made in the slow cooker, but store bought is better than nothing if it’s all you have)
- Protein (see the list below)
- Vegetables (see the veggie list below)
- Spices (see the list below)
- Whole grains / starches (see the list below) – optional
- Shredded cheese for garnish – optional
- Water (tap is fine since it’s going to boil in the slow cooker)
- cooked ground beef
- cooked chicken (pre-shredded or not, you can shred it after the soup is cooked if you wish)
- cooked ham
- cooked turkey
- cooked sausage
- beans (black beans, northern beans, kidney beans, etc.) (pre-soaked is preferable)
Vegetable Options (frozen or fresh)
- diced tomatoes
- green beans
- corn (preferably non GMO)
- chilies (green, red, jalapeno, etc.)
- bell pepper
- whatever other veggies you can think of to add
- garlic (I like chopping up whole cloves, but garlic powder will work as well)
- chili powder
- herbs de provence
- red pepper / black pepper
- sea salt
- whatever other cooking herbs in your spice rack float your boat
Whole Grain / Starch Options
- brown rice (pre-soaked is preferable)
- whole wheat pasta (penne, farfalle, spaghetti, fettucine, rotini, etc.)
- white potatoes
- homemade wheat rolls, cornbread, or crackers (on the side, not in the soup)
10 Minute Stew! Here’s What To Do:
1. Pull out your slow cooker & stock
2. Rummage through your refrigerator, pantry & freezer to see what you have to work with
3. Choose at least 1 protein, and whatever veggies & spices you want/have, as well as a whole grain/starch
4. If you chose onions and/or garlic, chop those up first and put them on the bottom of the slow cooker
5. Next add your protein/s (you can shred your meat before you add it or shred it later)
6. Now chop up and add the rest of your vegetables of choice (tip: I usually add 2-5 different types of veggies, but even just one veggie is fine like in broccoli cheese soup… just broccoli!). Also, if you chose white potatoes as your starch, slice & add those now.
7. Add your spices of choice to taste (tip: if you’re not sure what to add, pick out one or two spices that you really like the smell of and think would taste good with the protein you chose, then add sea salt and black pepper to taste as well)
8. If you will be using rice or pasta as your starch, you can choose to add that now or if you have the time you can add it in the last 30-60 minutes of cooking time if you don’t want it to be as soft (I just add it now because I would forget otherwise)
9. Now add 3-8 cups of stock (whatever you have will do) & then add water until there is about 1-2 inches between the water line and the top of your slow cooker
10. Add the lid, then turn your slow cooker on high for 4-6 hours or low for 6-8 hours (plug in the slow cooker, too… I forgot that one time and it didn’t turn out so well…)
11. Come back when the soup is ready and serve your family. If you didn’t add a starch to the soup itself, serve homemade rolls, cornbread, or crackers on the side.
- You don’t need 30 ingredients for your soup to be yummy, sometimes less is more
- Try not to take the lid off of your slow cooker as this delays the cooking
- The longer the soup simmers, the better it tastes
- Your house will start to smell like the incredible aroma of homemade goodness within a few hours, so be prepared to start salivating
When I make soup, I usually add an equal amount of meat and beans (thought sometimes I add a little meat and a lot of beans if that’s what we have), 2-5 veggies, and 4-6 spices (including the salt and pepper). I almost always use garlic and onions as well since they give the soup such a rich flavor and are so good for boosting the immune system. I also use equal parts of stock and water, sometimes 1:4 ratio if I am low on stock.
Soup reheats well & hubby and I can get 6-8 meals out of one pot of homemade soup (we usually each eat 2 good size bowls at a meal), meaning it adds up to pennies and dimes per bowl.
What are you waiting for? Go get your slow cooker and make some delicious soup!
This post is linked to Your Green Resource, Frugal Fridays, Fight Back Friday, Frugal Days Sustainable Ways, Friday Food Flicks, Traditional Tuesdays & Sunday Night Soup Night.