Friday, March 22, 2013

On my Hearth: Clean-out-the-Fridge Slow Cooker Soup

Mother Nature is playing a fast one on us, I think; she seems to be ignoring the fact that it is now Spring! A couple days ago it was so warm that we turned on the a/c, last night Chip actually flipped the thermostat over to heat! It's still a beautiful day in the Sunshine State, so I have nothing to complain about.  I already switched my wardrobe over so Spring-wear, though, so I'll be donning my white purse & sandals no matter what the thermometer says, ok? Please don't call the fashion police.

Anyway, the drop in temperature has me craving soups & stews again, so I threw together this everything-but-the-kitchen-sink veggie soup today.  Based upon this recipe, I pretty much used whatever vegetables I had on hand in the fridge & pantry.

                             Clean-out-the-Fridge Slow Cooker Soup

--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  8               Cups  water
  8          teaspoons Better than Bouillon No Chicken Base 

  1                can  chickpeas -- rinsed and drained
  2              large  carrots --sliced thin
  1             medium  onion -- diced
  1                can  corn -- rinsed and drained
  3             medium  potatoes -- chopped
  2             medium  zucchini -- chopped
  1                can  crushed or diced tomatoes, however much you want

  3              Tbsp.  Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
     1/2         Tbsp.  Liquid Smoke (gives an earthy, almost meaty flavor)
     1/2    tablespoon  dried parsley
  1               tsp.  dried oregano
  1               tsp.  dried sage
  1 1/2           tsp.  black pepper
                        Salt to taste

                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Throw everything except the salt into a large slow cooker (Crock-pot), turn onto High temp and forget about it! (Be sure you use a LARGE slow cooker; mine was filled to the brim, no way could I have used my smaller one.)

Check back after 4 hours or so, see if the carrots and potatoes are softening up. If so, turn down to Low temp for a couple more hours.  If not, keep it on High and peek at it on occasion.  

Ladle into a big soup bowl, season with salt to taste, sop up with a hunk of good bread.  Enjoy! 

This recipe is so forgiving; if you don't have bouillon, use vegetable broth in place of it and water.  If you have mushrooms, they'd be an awesome addition. Fresh herbs instead of dried? Go for it, just taste test and adjust measurements accordingly.  You can add brown rice for a heartier result, or cut down on the water/broth for a more stew-like consistency.

This makes a ton of soup so be prepared to freeze portions for another time; don't you love opening your freezer after a long day and having healthy, delicious meals at the ready? Absolutely no reason to rely on drive-thru (shudder) or other less desirable choices.

Last night we met a friend for happy hour at my favorite bistro, Caffeine.  Such a cool place, kinda retro spooky decor.

Marilyn, Inked

The devil made me drink it!
Their vegan menu options are limited, though, but they do offer a chicken/vegetable lettuce wrap which they were willing to modify for me.  Asian vegetables piled onto crisp Romaine lettuce with a assortment of dipping sauces, perfect!

Not a great picture, I promise it tasted better than I made it look! So good, in fact, that I made sure to send back special thanks to the chef with a request that he consider adding a few more veg-friendly items to the menu.  Hey, you never know until you ask, right?

Happy Friday!

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