We cook a lot in our crock pot while on the road and at campsites. Here is the simple formula we follow to make easy soup recipes in a crock pot. None of them require much effort, all of them can be done in a crock pot without any other dishes, and it just requires a few hours of time, most of which is simply letting the crock pot simmer to cook everything.
First off is chili, we make chili usually once a week, assuming we have some sort of ground meat to put in it. Even when frozen, its easy to throw together. Put a pound of ground meat, we usually use sausage or beef, but have also used venison or turkey when we have either. It will take awhile for the meat to defrost and cook, but break it up about an hour after putting it in and it will cook better. Break it down again in half an hour. After that, when its all cooked, drain the meat in an empty can and add the other ingredients.
Chili can have a wide variety of ingredients and honestly, ours is rarely the same twice. We usually add two cans of different kinds of beans. I like black and kidney, though chili beans with a sauce works well also. Add some stewed tomatoes or Rotel tomatoes and chilis, and that’s about it. If you want it tomatoey, then add a can of tomato sauce as well. Then add chili powder to taste, and thats really it. Let it simmer for a couple of hours and its done.
Simple enough, dirties only one dish, and it tastes great every time.
Pea and Ham Soup
Super easy and super cheap. And I got it all delivered from walmart.com.
Can of cooked ham, throw it in the crock pot. We were only able to get the 2.5 ounce cans, so using two cans or getting the larger cans is worth it. Then there are dried split peas. I bought a bag of them for about $1 and used only a third of it. Next, throw in a can of cream of mushroom soup. Stir it up nice and good, but it will be thick. Then add some type of broth. I used vegetable broth which worked well, though other flavors of broth might work as well. It will change the flavor a little, but still be good.
Now, how much broth? Well I don’t actually measure anything and go by consistency. Add enough broth to the mixture to make it smooth, then add a little more. Some of the liquid will be absorbed into the dry peas, so you’ll lose some liquid. Adding more than you think you’ll need is key.
Let it cook for awhile, taste it occasionally and try a pea to see how hard they are. As the peas cook, they’ll break down, get softer, and turn to mush. That’s okay though, it’ll turn into a nice, thick soup.
Note the lack of seasoning, I rarely use seasoning and only in moderation.
Pseudo-Minestrone Chicken Soup
This one happened by accident, purely by accident.
One 5 ounce can of cooked chicken. Throw it in the crock pot. Add a can of cooked peas and carrots. Add a can of golden mushroom soup. Add some broth, again to a good consistency and let it simmer for a couple of hours. Since the peas and carrots are already cooked, you really only need to heat up the various ingredients and let the flavors mingle.
That’s really it. I called this one Pseudo-Minestrone because it tasted remarkably like minestrone soup which was entirely accidental. Turned out pretty tasty though.
And other random things
Some other things to add to chili (and make it something other than chili technically) are pasta, especially macaroni noodles, salsa, or a different kind of beans. Mix it up, go wild.
For soup, I’ve used bacon ends from a local butcher to good effect. Bacon ends are just the parts of bacon that aren’t good enough for sliced bacon and are usually random sized pieces of bacon, often with a lot of fat. Cook them in the soup mixture and they’ll break down to a nice texture, and add a lot of flavor to the soup. Straight up bacon can work as well, but it has to be chopped up and not in long strips. Bacon ends are usually a lot cheaper than cut bacon though and well worth it.
The Basics Groundwork
Take some kind of meat, add some vegetable of some sort, add some cream of something soup, and some broth and thats it. Its really not that complicated and turns out well. This is hard to screw up actually. Experiment, find something you leak, and make it a little different the next time. That way you won’t get bored with having the same meal every day and you’ll learn to adjust the menu to combine foods in ways that work together.