Good recipes DO NOT have to be complicated. I may be a stay at home mom, but I am still short on time 90% of the time. With two young children, I normally can’t spend a lot of time on one meal. So my crock pot is often my best friend.
I love soup. To me there is nothing more comforting and hearty on a cold day than a nice pot of vegetable soup. It’s super easy to make, and so versatile. You can make it from fresh ingredients, or use canned and frozen. Add as many or as few vegetables as you want. Spice it up, leave it plain. Make it soupy, make it stew. It’s easy to play with.
Here’s the basic recipe that gets used often in this house. Of course, you can add more vegetables and/or beans and use fresh, or canned as well.
1lb +/- Stew Beef
1 Large Can Tomato Sauce (ours was 29oz)
1 Large Can Crushed Tomatoes
1 Can Green Beans
1 Can Corn
1 Can Carrots
1 Can Lima Beans
1 Can Great Northern Beans
Beef Bouillon 2-3 cubes (you don’t have to use this. I just like the extra rich flavor it adds)
Beef Broth (Amount will vary. Use less for a stew consistency, more for a soup consistency)
Seasonings to taste. The amount will vary based on your own taste. Start with a little. You can always add, but you can’t take away!
I typically use:
Other good spices to use include: celery seeds, thyme, bay leaves (remove before serving), oregano.
1. Get our your crock pot. If you’re using frozen meat you can place it directly in the crock pot frozen, or you can defrost it in the microwave. I typically defrost ours while I’m adding the other ingredients. You could even brown your meat on the stove top before putting it in. This recipe is versatile!
2. Open up all your cans. I pour the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes in first. It’s fine to pour them over your beef if you’ve already added it. Everything gets mixed together anyway! Drain your canned vegetables and beans and pour them into the crock pot on top of the tomatoes. If you haven’t added your meat yet, you can add it now or wait until after you have added your spices. Stir it all up!
3. Dissolve 2-3 bouillon cubes (if you’re using them) in some beef broth. I put about a cup of broth in a mug, heat in the microwave for 1-2 mins, and then stir the bouillon cubes until they dissolve.
4. Add your spices while the bouillon is dissolving. I honestly don’t ever really measure them. I start with about a tsp-tbs of each and stir it into the soup mixture well. You can always add more later, but you can’t take away. So don’t over do it. I do not recommend tasting your soup yet if you’ve already added your beef because, well, there’s uncooked beef in there!
5. Pour the broth and dissolved bouillon into your soup. Add more broth as desired. If you want more of a stew, add a little. If you want a soup, add more. Stir! You can store any unused broth in your fridge for the length of time specified on the package.
6. Start your soup on high if you’ve added your beef frozen and leave on high for 3-4 hours. Turn to low and finish for another 2-4 hours. If you’ve defrosted your beef, cook on low for 4-8 hours. Typically the longer you cook, the more the flavors meld. If you’ve used fresh vegetables, you’ll want to cook longer to make sure they’re cooked through. Canned vegetables, you won’t need to cook as long. I normally start tasting mine a couple of hours before I want to serve it to see if more seasonings need to be added.