What's the soup?
Story and photos by Angie Sutton
There’s nothing like a good soup when you’re tired of eating fast food or have little time in between the end of your work day and dinner. Many recipes can be converted to slow cooker options while, conversely, slow cooker recipes can often be adapted to the stovetop. At Sutton Central, we love making soup dinners because there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Leftover soup will last up to three days in the refrigerator.
Warm up and fill up with big-batch soups, stews and chowders from your freezer. Most soups freeze well and can be packaged in individual servings for a quick lunch! If you are making your soup and freezing it specifically for a future meal, here are a few tips to keep your soup looking and tasting great:
Undercook your vegetables a little. When reheating, they will cook a bit more so undercooking helps prevent mush.
Recipes calling for pasta may not be your best option for freezer meals as cooked pasta tends to break up when frozen. You can leave it out and while your frozen batch is reheating, prepare the pasta and toss in before serving.
Potatoes are a challenge to freeze in soups because they lose their shape. There’s no harm, but your consistency will be a tad mushy. I’ve found frozen Southern-style potatoes hold their consistency nicely when used in a recipe you intend to freeze.
Soups that have a cream base can be frozen but require additional work when reheating. Reheat gently and add a splash of milk to achieve desired consistency.
Leave out anything you would add the last five minutes such as fresh herbs and garnishes like tortilla strips and shredded cheese. If your soup recipe calls to thicken the broth during the final phase, you will want to proceed with this.
I mentioned converting recipes from stovetop to slow cooker. This can require some experimentation but generally I’ve found most ventures will be successful with a few adjustments. Since there is no evaporation in a closed slow cooker, adjusting the amount of liquid in your recipe may be necessary. If a stovetop recipe calls for six to eight cups of water, try starting with five cups in the crockpot. If the recipe doesn’t call for liquid, add 1/2 cup water or broth. For stews and soups, put the veggies on the bottom and sides of your slow cooker, placing the meat on top. For stews I like to brown the meat in a skillet first. In general, 1 hour of simmering on the range or baking at 350 F in the oven is equal to 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high in a slow cooker.
If you’re like me and you see a slow cooker recipe that looks scrumptious but it’s too late in the day to accomplish, you can often convert it to the stovetop. Recipes with ground beef work well but many meat cuts really need the longevity and slow cooking process of the crock to be successful. You’ll want to plan on simmering the stovetop soup for about an hour to really appreciate the taste that would get from the slow cooking process.
With the resources we have today to search for recipes, there are so many soups, you could eat a new one every day this winter. I’ve tried several new ones lately and hope they can warm your home this winter as well!
Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Carrots
4 c. chicken broth
In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth, water and chicken. Bring just to boiling and then stir in rice, reserving the seasoning packet. Cover and remove from heat. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper and flour. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in seasoning packet until mixture is bubble. Reduce heat to low, then stir in flour mixture about a tablespoon at a time, to form a roux. Whisk in cream slowly until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 4 or 5 minutes. Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Add carrots. Cook over medium heat until heated through, 15 minutes.
White Chicken Chili Soup
4 c. chicken broth
In a large stock pot, add broth, beans, chicken, green chilies, cumin, garlic powder, oregano and pepper. Stir until well combined and simmer on low for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, stir in sour cream and cheese until melted. Serve.
Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice
1 lb. red beans, dried
Combine all ingredients except rice and cook in slow cooker on low for 8 hours.
Slow Cooker Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Make this a complete meal by adding cooked, shredded chicken breast to the slow cooker in step 2. You can also stretch this recipe by adding 1 or 2 cups cooked rice in step 3.
1/3 c. unsalted butter
Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until they begin to soften and become translucent, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, flour, salt and pepper, stirring constantly another 2 minutes. Slowly add evaporated milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it begins to thicken and then pour directly into crock of slow cooker. Add chicken broth, diced broccoli and thyme and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Turn slow cooker to warm and stir in cream and cheeses until melted.
Bacon, Beef and Cheese Soup
12 oz. thick-cut bacon, diced
In large saucepan, cook diced bacon until lightly crisp, stirring occasionally. Drain all but 2 tablespoons grease. Add ground beef and cook until browned, breaking it up as it cooks. Stir in flour, steak seasoning and paprika to make a roux. Add beer slowly and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of the drippings combined. Cook for an additional 4 or 5 minutes. Stir in cream and continue to cook until mixture is bubbly, stirring occasionally. Add cheese and stir until melted. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes on low, stirring occasionally. Garnish with croutons and additional bacon bits if you like.
How to Freeze Soup
1. Cool. Refrigerators and freezers cannot cool soups quickly enough to be food safe. Speed up the cooling process by placing the pot of soup in a bath of ice water in the sink. Stir soup often to help release the heat. 2. Package. Label and date gallon- or quart-size zip-top plastic freezer bags, place in a bowl and cuff the bag over the edge. Ladle soup into each bag, then let out any excess air and seal. 3. Freeze. Lay bags flat in a single layer in the freezer; when frozen, stack bags to save space. 4. Reheat. Thaw overnight in fridge. Reheat chowders over low heat; gumbo, stew and soups over medium-low. Stir occasionally.