This weeks blog post is written by Illinois State University graduate student-intern, Jeanne Arbuckle.
This is a great time of year for soup. After all, it's National Soup Month. Wouldn't it be wonderful to come home to the smell and warmth of a hearty soup cooking on the stove? Soups can be economical, simple to prepare, healthy, and nutritious, as well as warm and comforting. Most soups will taste even better the following day. Using a slow cooker will simplify the soup-making process even more by allowing you to put the ingredients in the pot, turn it on, and walk away until it's done. Favorite recipes can be converted easily for use in your slow cooker. Here are some tips for the conversion process:
- Liquids do not evaporate as they do when cooked on the stove. About half the recommended amount of liquid usually works unless the recipe contains rice or pasta.
- Most uncooked meat and vegetable combinations will require cooking for at least 8 hours on low in a slow cooker.
- If the recipe cooks for 15-30 minutes on the stove, cook for 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours on high or 4-6 hours on low in the slow cooker.
- If the recipe cooks for 35-45 minutes on the stove, cook for 3-4 hours on high or 6-10 hours on low in the slow cooker.
- If the recipe cooks for 50 minutes to 3 hours on the stove, cook 4-6 hours on high or 8-18 hours on low in the slow cooker.
- Slow cookers really do cook slowly, so a few extra hours on low will not be a problem. Recipes may be cooked on high for 2 hours, then on low for the remaining time to shorten cooking time.
- Heat escapes when the lid is removed; add 15-20 minutes extra cooking time if you raise it.
- Some recipes direct you to bring the food to a boil on the stove and reduce the heat to allow the food to simmer after the boiling point is reached. Cooking the food on low in a slow cooker will produce the same results.
- Many steps in the recipe may be unnecessary. Vegetables do not require browning or sautéing, nor do they overcook, so they may be added at the beginning of the cooking process. Dairy products such as milk, sour cream or cream should be added during the last 30-60 minutes of cooking.
- The flavor of dried leaf or whole herbs and spices may become stronger during cooking. Start with half the recommended amount, and then adjust as needed. Fresh herbs should be added during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Rice and pasta may become starchy when cooked for long periods of time. For the best results, cook rice or pasta on the stove and add them to the slow cooker a few minutes before serving.
Southwestern Vegetable Soup Printable PDF
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours
Serving Size: 1 cup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chili pepper, minced
2 Tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth
2 bay leaves, whole
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups frozen whole kernel corn
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips (about 4 ounces), optional
1 cup diced peeled avocado, optional
Combine olive oil, onion, green pepper, garlic, serrano chili, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, broth, bay leaves, tomatoes, beans and corn in slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Discard bay leaves. Stir in cilantro. Top with tortilla chips and avocado if desired.
Yield: 10 servings
Nutritional analysis per serving: 240 calories, 6 g fat, 520 mg sodium, 39 g total carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 9 g protein
Nutritional analysis per serving without optional chips and avocado: 160 calories, 2 g fat, 410 mg sodium, 28 g total carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 7 g protein