Slow Cooker Sunday: Broccoli Cheese Soup

Whenever I go to Panera and I am in the mood for soup I always get the Broccoli Cheddar Soup. I am not sure what drew me to ordering the soup in the first place, because when you think about it, you would assume that a cheddar soup might be thick and overly cheesy… More like a cheese dip as opposed to a soup. But thankfully that is not the case.

Wanting to create the soup at home I came across The Pioneer Woman’s recipe that utilized one of my favorite kitchen appliances… a slow cooker. And thankfully she believes in what I do, using your slow cooker shouldn’t require too much fuss; it really should be about throwing it all in there and forgetting about it for a few hours. The only prep work I had to do was chopping up a few carrots and an onion. Which I added to my slow cooker along with cream of celery soup, chicken broth, broccoli florets, salt, black and cayenne pepper. After giving it a few good stirs I cooked it on high for 4 hours.

After 4 hours I used an immersion blender to puree the soup.

Next I added in Velveeta and shredded cheddar cheese. I had never used Velveeta in anything prior to this – I am not even sure I have ever had it either – so, I was a little shocked by how much it cost. How could a process cheese product cost more than some basic cheeses? Insane!

After adding the cheeses I covered the soup again and cooked it on low for 15 minutes. I should note that I never turned off my slow cooker during the pureeing and adding of cheeses, I left it on the warm setting throughout. After the 15 minutes I gave the soup a few good stirs to mix in the cheeses and that was it! Definitely a quick, easy and delicious slow cooker recipe!

 

Slow Cooker Broccoli Cheese Soup

Ingredients:

1 pound frozen broccoli florets

1 medium onion, diced

2 carrots, finely diced

3 14.5 oz. cans low sodium chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 pounds Velveeta

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

 

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker except for the Velveeta and cheddar cheese. Stir, cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

After the 4 hours use and immersion blender to blend 3/4 of the soup. You can also use a blender; if doing so only blend 1 cup of soup at a time.

Add the cheeses and turn the slow cooker to low and cook covered for 15 minutes.

After the 15 minutes stir the soup to melt the cheese and mix it in. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Soup will keep in the fridge for a few days.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew

So, I personally think that one of the best things to make in a slow cooker is soup / stew. I consider them to be more or less one in the same. And this week I am bringing you a Spicy Mexican Chicken Stew that is the ideal Slow Cooker Meal. The only prep is some dicing, chopping and cutting. No sautéing veggies or heating the aromatics to develop the flavors. You control the level of spice with a jar of salsa. I got this recipe in the cookbook I mentioned last week… Slow Cooker Family Favorites. I’m 2 for 2 with the recipes in this book… Yay!

I began by stirring together salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in the bowl in my slow cooker.

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I then added in diced potatoes, frozen corn, cut celery & carrots, a diced onion and minced garlic.

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I gave everything a few good stirs to make sure the vegetables were coated by the salsa mixture.

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And finally, I placed 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and poured in a can of chicken broth.

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So, according to the directions the stew was to be cooked on high for 4 hours, or until the chicken was cooked through and the vegetable were tender. After 4 hours the chicken was cooked through, so I removed it from the slow cooker and shredded it using two forks. But, my vegetables were still a bit undercooked, so I returned the chicken to the slow cooker and cooked everything for about another 2 hours.

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Which I think was the best thing. The end result were vegetables that were perfectly tender, but, better yet, the chicken was really able to absorb the flavors of the stew. YUM!

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I packed a bowl for lunch the following day and I must say it was even better then and each subsequent day!

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Spicy Chicken Mexican Stew

Ingredients:

1 16-oz jar spicy salsa*

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes**

1 16 ounce package frozen corn***

2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs****

1 14.5-oz chicken broth (approximately 2 cups)

 

*I used Chi-Chi’s Medium Thick & Chunky Salsa

**I used 2 medium sized potatoes and 1 small one

**The package I used was 12 oz.

****About 1 3/4 pounds of chicken

 

Directions:

In the bowl of a slow cooker stir together the salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Add the potatoes, corn, celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Toss everything to coat the vegetables.

Place the chicken on top and then pour in the chicken broth.

Set to cook on high for 4-6 hours, until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Once chicken is cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred with two forks and return to the slow cooker. Season for taste.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

There’s nothing like a delicious soup! And while there are plenty of delicious options available in cans, cartons and so forth at your local supermarket, making soup from scratch is such a better option and best of all…. the leftovers! I had this soup for lunch over the course of a week and by end of the week it was even better than the first day I had it.

I began by cooking a 1lb. of sweet Italian sausage meat in my Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it was beginning to brown. If you can find sausage meat in ground form as opposed to actual sausages it will save you some time and just make things easier so you don’t have to remove the meat from the casings. I then added in chopped onion and garlic and continued cooking everything until the onions were soften and the sausage was completed cooked.

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Next, I added in chicken stock, stirring and scraping to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. I then added in lentils, whole peeled tomatoes, salt and pepper and brought the whole thing to a boil. I then reduced the heat to medium-low and simmered the soup until the lentils had softened. As the soup simmered the tomatoes began to break down as well.

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And finally I added in baby kale leaves, stirring the soup constantly until the leaves had softened.

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Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage meat*

1 cup chopped onion

2 garlic cloves, chopped

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed

1 28oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

5 cups loosely packed baby kale leaves

*If using sausages remove casings

Directions:

Cook the sausage in a Dutch oven (or your preferred pot for making soup) over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the meat crumbles and begins to brown. Add in the onion and garlic and continue cooking until the meat is cooked through and the onions have soften.

Add the stock, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits. Add the lentils, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils have softened.

Stir in the kale and cook, continue stirring until softened.

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine

Slow Cooker Sunday: Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

This is probably the best soup I have ever made and maybe tasted, well, there was this French Onion Soup that I had years ago at a restaurant that I still compare all French Onion Soup’s I have to this day to. Maybe I should try making that soup one day. But anyhoo, I digress, as usual. Back to the soup at hand, an Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup that best of all is made in a slow cooker. There’s nothing better than dumping everything into your slow cooker, coming back a few hours later and having a great meal waiting for you.

I began by adding all of my vegetables to my slow cooker: corn, chopped onion, chopped carrots, sliced zucchini and garlic. I wasn’t sure if garlic could be considered a vegetable, but, after a little research it turns out can be.

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Next, I stirred broth, tomato paste, salt and basil until the tomato paste had completely blended into the broth. I used tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano. I advise definitely using this blend of tomato paste since it adds more flavor to the soup.

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I opted to cook it on the high setting – for about 3 1/2 hours – and then added in dried shell macaroni and a bag of frozen green beans and cooked it for an additional 45 minutes.

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Once it was done I served myself some in a bowl and topped it with shredded parmesan. YUM!

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Italian Vegetable and Pasta Soup

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped carrots

1 small zucchini, halved and sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 cups no-salt vegetable or chicken broth

1 6-ounce can tomato paste with basil, garlic and oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1 9-ounce package frozen green beans

1 cup dried tiny shell macaroni

Shredded parmesan cheese, for topping

*I used regular (not the no-salt one) garden vegetable broth

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker combine the frozen corn, onion, carrots, zucchini and garlic.

Stir in the broth, salt, basil and tomato paste until the tomato paste is completed blended into the broth.

Cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 to 4 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours. If cooking on low set the heat to high and add in the macaroni and green beans and cook for an additional 45 minutes.

Sprinkle each serving with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: Butternut Squash Soup

Slow Cooker Sunday is back! Granted I will put the disclaimer in that I may not be posting every Sunday though. Thankfully I am covered for the next few Sunday’s as I have two recipes in my blog queue that I never posted. It’s a good thing recipes don’t expire! LOL! So, in honor of my first Slow Cooker Sunday post in a quite a few months and since its Fall I bring you a Butternut Squash Soup that’s super easy, super quick and super delicious!

Truthfully this soup couldn’t get any easier… I placed all the ingredients – butternut squash, chicken broth, coconut milk, chopped onion, brown sugar, soy sauce and crushed red pepper – in my slow cooker…

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And set it cook on low for 4 hours. Granted the before cooking and after cooking are pretty much the same, but, trust me this was 4 hours later.

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I then transferred the soup to a pot and used an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together until it was smooth. And then finally I stirred in lime juice, which really took the flavor of the soup up another notch. Citrus really does have a way of bringing out and bringing together different flavors. And that was it!

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Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups chicken broth

1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoon lime juice

Directions:

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the lime juice.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours or on high-heat setting for 2 to 21/2 hours.

Use an immersion blender, food processor or blender to blend soup until smooth. Stir in lime juice and enjoy.

Slightly adapted from Better Homes & Gardens

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

For me any time is a good time for soup – it’s like ice cream; it can never be too cold or too hot to enjoy it. Especially since there are so many varieties of soups that can be enjoyed either hot or cold. But these days with the temperatures being so cold and every few days there is some sort of wintry mix falling from the skies hot soup is definitely the way to go! The other day while picking up some produce while grocery shopping – this is a common place (the produce section) where I get some of my cooking / baking ideas – the idea of making roasted tomato soup popped into my head. I had no idea what ingredients I needed but I figured tomatoes would be a good start and some basil. I knew I had the other basics at home that I assume I would need – yellow onions and garlic. I didn’t think I needed any specific type of tomato – i.e. plum, beefsteak, etc… – so I picked up a pack of six tomatoes but then when I got home and did some research I soon realized that I needed double that amount so I picked up another pack of six tomatoes the following day and I was ready to go.

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I began by slicing the tomatoes in half and tossing them with olive oil and kosher salt and placing them on a baking sheet.

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I then roasted them in a 400 F preheated oven for about 45 minutes.

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While the tomatoes cooled I chopped two yellow onions and minced four garlic cloves and sautéed both in two tablespoons each of unsalted butter and olive oil over medium heat. The smell of sautéing onions and garlic is probably one of my favorite aromas when it comes to cooking.

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Following that I added a quart of vegetable broth – I used College Inn’s Garden Vegetable Broth – the tomatoes and ten large basil leaves to the onion mixture.

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I brought the soup to a boil by raising the heat to high and then lowered the heat so the soup could simmer uncovered for about thirty minutes. I did a taste test and I already knew that this soup was a winner… The broth had a wonderful taste with a hint of the basil.

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I removed the pot from the heat and used an immersion blender to blend the mixture into a delicious creamy soup that still had bits of the basil in it. I seasoned it with some fresh ground pepper and it was ready to be enjoyed.

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While the soup was meant to be for dinner, I couldn’t wait to try it so I ladled a few spoons into a bowl and topped it with some shredded parmesan cheese and I was very happy with the result. I enjoyed a second bowl a few hours later along with a grilled cheese!

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Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

12 tomatoes (approximately 3 pounds) – halved

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

10 large basil leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for sautéing onions and garlic

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 quart vegetable broth

Fresh ground pepper for seasoning

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss tomatoes with olive oil and salt and spread on a cookie sheet in a single layer and roast in the oven for 45 minutes.

2. Sauté the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the onions begin to brown.

3. Add the vegetable broth, tomatoes and basil to the onion mixture and raise the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat to low and simmer the soup uncovered for about 25 – 30 minutes, the tomatoes will looked stewed / poached.

4. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, or blend in a blender or a food processor, until the soup is creamy and all of the tomatoes have been blended. Season with salt and pepper.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup

The temperatures have begun to drop and it’s the perfect excuse to make warm and hearty soups, albeit I made this soup last week on a rainy day, which as we all know is also a perfect day for soup. I’ve actually made this soup a few times before after coming across it on a fellow blogger’s blog last year, but, this was the first time that I made the soup by roasting a whole butternut squash as opposed to the prepackaged chopped ones you sometimes see in the produce area and as crazy as it sounds, it made such a difference in the flavor.

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Luckily the butternut squash wasn’t as difficult to slice as the pumpkins were for the homemade puree I made. Granted the two slices weren’t perfectly equal but they were close enough. After I sliced them I cleaned out all of the pulp and seeds and placed the two halves on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I roasted them in a 425 F preheated oven for just shy of an hour, until they were fork tender.

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Along with the butternut squash I also roasted a large sweet potato which I peeled and cubed, the roasting time for the potato was considerably less, about 20 minutes. Once the butternut squashed cooled I removed the peel and chopped it into cubes as well. Of course I couldn’t help but trying a piece and it was absolutely delish. Roasting vegetables really brings out their inner sweetness.

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I then gathered all of the ingredients I needed for the soup along with the squash and sweet potato; 2 diced onions, minced ginger, coconut milk and vegetable stock.

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Now on to making the actual soup… I began by sautéing the onion and ginger until the onions were translucent. I then added in the cubed squash and sweet potato and finally the vegetable stock. Once I brought it to a boil over medium heat I reduced the heat to low and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

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And finally using a handheld blender (immersion blender) I pureed the soup until it was smooth and then stirred in the coconut milk.

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I cannot say enough good things about this soup… There is sweetness from roasting the squash and the sweet potato and a hint of ginger that makes this soup so delicious. Another plus, it’s great for many who follow different types of diets… Its vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and all around healthy. Even those of you who are not keen on veggies will find this soup tasty!

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Roasted Butternut Squash & Sweet Potato Soup – adapted from here

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash sliced in half and pulp and seeds removed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 medium-sized onions, peeled and diced

2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced

4 cups vegetable stock

3/4 cup coconut milk

Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Olive oil

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.

2. Drizzle olive oil over squash and sweet potato; add a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a baking sheet. On another baking sheet lay out the sweet potatoes. Cook the sweet potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until fork tender. Cook the squash for about 50 minutes, once again until fork tender. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

3. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

4. Remove the peel from the squash and roughly cut it into large cubes and add it to the pot with the onions and ginger along with the sweet potato.

5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for 20 minutes, making sure the squash is tender.

6. Using a handheld blender, puree the soup. Add the coconut milk and stir.