By Angie Sutton
I love coming home on a weeknight to the entire house smelling like a hearty soup or stew. What I love even more is dropping everything at the door, dishing up dinner and heading right to the table to catch up on everyone’s day. Weekends are reserved for the recipes that require a bit more work.
One of my favorite meals growing up was the potato soup my mom made. What made it special were the toast cubes we ate with it. She would toast a half a bag of bread and cut it into bite-sized cubes. We’d toss them into the thick broth of the soup and in no time were stuffed to the gills. Soup has a tradition of being a meal that warms the heart and soul. It offers a reason to gather at churches across the country every fall and winter as they host visitors for soup days. Conversations flow around the deep bowls filled with heartwarming soups, dishes of crackers and carrot sticks. And the pies, oh my! We’ll talk about that soon.
As a busy mom with an active family, soup is a quick and easy meal that is slow cooker friendly. Most soups are easily adaptable based on what you have available. Substitute corn for green beans or add potatoes to stretch the servings. If you like more broth, add some in. When time allows you can amp up the meal with a ham and cheese panini or a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Ground beef makes an easy protein for soups, but it can certainly be substituted with beef stew meat. I like to use a higher quality lean ground beef for soup. We’ll spend the month of October exploring different types of soups. Give me a shout if you want to share one of your favorites with readers.
Kelly’s Southwestern Beef Stew
This recipe is a bit more involved but is worth it.
2 1/2 to 3 lbs. chuck roast (trim fat as necessary) or 2 1/2 to 3 lbs. arm roast, cubed (trim fat as necessary)
In large resealable plastic bag combine flour, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder and salt. Add meat and shake until all is coated. In large heavy-bottomed pot that has a lid, brown meat over medium-high heat in the 4 tablespoons Crisco. Add next 8 ingredients, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until meat is tender. Add carrots and potatoes, recover and simmer another 25 to 30 minutes or until tender. Add corn, heat through. Remove bay leaf and discard. Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch with equal amount of cold water, stir into pot while simmering to thicken even more. Simmer, stirring, for several minutes. Do this at the very end.
Sausage, Cannellini and Tomato Soup
6 oz. bulk hot Italian sausage
Brown sausage about 2 minutes, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan at set aside. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add wine; cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in stock and next 5 ingredients (through beans); reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 8 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in cooked sausage and oregano.
Beef and Tomato Macaroni Soup
This timeless classic is perfect to introduce the fall season! When you walk in the house at dinner time this comfort food welcomes you heartily. Occasionally I use 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound bulk pork sausage to change up the taste a bit. You could easily add frozen green peas or carrots to this recipe.
1 lb. ground beef
Brown the ground beef, onion and garlic until ground beef is no longer pink. Drain and dump into the bottom of your slow cooker. Add the stock, cans of chopped and whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, brown sugar and Italian seasoning. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Add macaroni and mix well. Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes or until macaroni is tender.
Beef, Bacon and Barley Soup
Hearty is a great word to describe this soup. Serve it on top of mashed potatoes for tummy-pleasing warm up.
8 bacon strips, chopped
Brown bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain. In the same skillet, cook beef and onion until meat is browned; drain. In a slow cooker, layer the potatoes, carrots, corn and barley. Top with beef mixture and bacon. Combine the broth, tomatoes, gravy and pepper; pour over top (do not stir). Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or until meat and vegetables are tender. Stir before serving.
Southwest Slow Cooker Soup
Easily substitute the diced tomatoes and green chilies with picante sauce or chunky salsa. If you don’t have Southwest seasoning in the house, you can substitute cumin or chili powder.
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
Brown ground beef and onion over medium heat in a skillet until meat is no longer pink; drain. Dump into the slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, black beans, broth, tomatoes, garlic powder and seasoning blend. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Stir in rice; heat through. Sprinkle each serving with cheese.