I’ve been told most people don’t enjoy spending hours of their days in the kitchen.
I wouldn’t know much about this. I can count on one hand the moments in my life when I thought to myself “the last thing I want to do is cook right now.” I pretty much always feel like cooking. And even more often I feel like baking.
When I busy myself in the kitchen is one of the only times I experience single-minded focus, concerned with the task at hand and undisturbed by any other thoughts. You know, the kind of mental state most people try and achieve through meditation. Or drugs.
I meditate daily, but man I sure seem to think about a lot more stuff in those twenty minutes of silent mind time than I do in twenty minutes of chopping vegetables.
That said, I love my crockpot. And not for the reasons most people love their crockpots. Yes, it cooks food with minimal work involved… set it and forget it… easy peasy, I know. That’s all wonderful, but I’m mostly amazed by how awesome everything tastes after a few hours in a crockpot.
And I bought mine for $8 new at Target almost four years ago, and it still works as great as it did the first time I used it! Merci, Target.
A lot of slow cooker recipes involve precooking the ingredients before adding them to the bowl. Like browning chicken, sautéing the veggies, etc. I understand that is typically for added flavor, but if there is one thing I want my crockpot to help me avoid, it’s washing dishes. Having fewer pans to scrub, now that is time well saved.
For this everyday crockpot vegetable soup, all you have to do is layer an array of colorful veggies in the bowl, open a few cans, turn the nob, and walk away. When you come back a few hours later, you’ll stir in a few more vegetables, let it sit as you take a bowl off the shelf and a spoon out of the drawer,
make yourself a grilled cheese, serve and eat!
Not to mention all you’ll taste is fresh ingredients, no “tinny” aftertaste or additives you get with that canned stuff.
Side note before we start making soup: Canned soup. We’re talking a minimum of $2-$2.50 per 14 ounce can. And “fresh soup” from the prepared foods bar at the grocery store? Twice that much money.
This recipe yields more than four times the amount of soup, and costs maybe $5 total to make, tops. Leftovers freeze wonderfully, so for those days when even cutting an onion seems like too much effort, all you have to do is heat up a container from out of the freezer.
So what are you waiting for? You probably have most of the ingredients already sitting in your refrigerator and pantry, but if not, this soup is totally versatile. Feel free to leave out or add different veggies, depending on what you have and what’s in season. Adjust the seasonings to your liking. Want to bulk it up? Throw in a can of beans or some cooked grains. You can’t go wrong!
Everyday Crockpot Vegetable Soup
Yields 2 quarts of soup, 6-8 servings
- 2 Tbs. olive oil*
- 1 small yellow onion, diced (1/2 cup)
- 1 large carrot, peed and diced (3/4 cup) or baby carrots, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced (1/2 cup)
- 3/4 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups (32oz) vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and twigs discarded
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp. salt, more to taste
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper, more to taste
- 4 cups kale, roughly chopped*
- 1/3 cup frozen corn kernels
- 1/3 cup frozen green peas
- Optional: 1 (14.5oz) can kidney beans or chickpeas
- Optional: 1-1.5 cups cooked grains (barley, quinoa, millet, farro, rice…)
Coat the bottom of the crockpot bowl with olive oil. Top with the onions, celery, carrots, green beans, and garlic. Pour in the vegetable broth and tomatoes. Stir in the herbs, spices, and kale.
Turn the crockpot to high and cook for 2.5-3 hours, or set it to low and cook for 5-6 hours.
About twenty minutes before you are ready to serve, remove the lid and stir in the frozen corn, peas, and beans or grains, if using. Replace the lid and continue to cook until everything is heated through. Remove the bay leaf before serving or storing.
*You can reduce the amount or omit the olive oil if you don’t want any added fat in your soup.
*I like my greens to be really well cooked, so I add them right at the beginning even though they lose some of their color. If you want brighter, crisper greens, don’t add them until the last half hour when you add the corn and peas. If using a more delicate green like spinach, add it at this time, not in the beginning. You may also opt for frozen greens, in which case use about 1 cup and stir it in along with the other frozen vegetables.