The slow cooker, also known as the crock pot, is a great way to cook meals without a whole lot of fuss. Basically, this device lets you to cook slowly, using moist heat, in a single pot.
The great thing about slow cookers is that they are so versatile. You can make nearly anything in a slow cooker, from delicious roasts and side dishes to stews and soups.
The number of soups you can make in a slow cooker is endless, so I’m going to focus a bit on how you go about starting a slow cooker soup, how to prep different types of ingredients and then give you some basic ideas for easy slow cooker soups.
Toss It All In
Cooking soups in a slow cooker is pretty simple; you can generally just toss in ingredients, turn on the cooker and let it cook away while you do more important things. With most slow cookers, there are two temperature settings – low and high. I recommend cooking your soups on low heat to better enhance the flavors. As ingredients cook together for a longer period of time, their flavors become stronger and better fused together. High heat cooking works and surely saves cooking time, but you lose a little bit of the flavor profile you can get from cooking on low heat.
Soups generally cook for 3-4 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat.
Adapting Soup Recipes
Most any soup recipe can be adapted for a slow cooker. Of course, soups often have a base such as chicken, beef or cream to which other ingredients are added. When adapting a stove-based soup for slow cooking, you can use the same quantity of ingredients, you just may need to alter cooking time.
Vegetables can be cooked raw along with the soup base. Depending on the recipe, meats may or may not need to be cooked prior to adding them to the pot. The nice thing with a slow cooker is that even if you are using pre-cooked meats, the moist, slow cooking nature doesn’t dry out meat any further – if anything, it becomes more tender.
Noodles and rice are other common additions to slow cooker soups. Typically, noodles should be added only for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking prior to serving. You definitely do not want to have them cooking for 3-8 hours—unless you actually want mushy noodle soup.
Likewise, rice can be added near the end of cooking time, but the exact time will depend on the type of rice you are using. It’s always best to follow the recipe, but as a general rule of thumb, plan on rice and noodles to take a bit longer than if you were simply boiling in water.
Here are a few Tablespoon recipes that will give you a good place to start when trying out slow cooker soups.
Be sure to add your own favorite slow cooker recipes to Tablespoon so others can enjoy them!