Slow Cooker Odyssey: It Begins

October 28, 2016

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111 Comments
  • I love my slow cooker! Well, I did until my husband fell down the beck steps as he went out to throw away the dregs of a stew. He fell down the back steps and broke the ceramic pot into smithereens. (He only got sore knees, btw,)

    I’ll be happy to have new recipes to use in my new slow cooker. My birthday is in two weeks and surely someone will give me a crockpot.

    • The new models cook at a higher temp on low than the old ones (more like the high setting on the older models), so if you get a new one, monitor the time the first few times you use it.

  • Just a word of caution to the novice cook: exercise extreme caution when pureeing hot soup in a blender. Mt. Vesuvius comes to mind. Small amounts and hold the top on.

    • I got a super inexpensive immersion blender at Target or Walmart or somewhere like that and it was worth every penny because of the Mt. Vesuvius issue. It also avoids my pouring whatever is in the crock pot onto the counter while aiming for the blender since you blend in the pot. I am a vegan but better than bullion There’s no Chicken broth (the name is something like that) is a perfect sub for chicken broth.

    • OMG i just nearly wet my pants @ the Mt. Vesuvius comment. Thank you, thank you, you have made my day.

  • This is great! A 2 ingredient soup!!! I can do that, I think… Thank you.

  • I’m afraid that as a vegetarian I’m going to miss out on this odyssey, but this recipe works for me if I use veggy broth. I’m going to keep my eye out for a slow cooker at the thrift shop!

    • Perhaps if you try Google or go on Pinterest you would find more vegetarian crock pot recipes. It couldn’t hurt! 😉

      • There are entire cookbooks devoted to vegetarian slow cooking — I own one of them and use it a lot. Another great thing about a crock pot is that I can set it outside to cook without heating up the house during our endless southwestern summers.

    • I am a vegetarian too, and I use my crock pot for a lot of yummy vegetarian stews and soups. It is perfect for anything with beans, lentils or split peas. Add whatever veggies are languishing in the bottom of the fridge, and you have a hearty meal.

    • Check out: The Indian Slow Cooker: 50 Healthy, Easy, Authentic Recipes by Anupy Singla. Many DELICIOUS vegetarian recipes here. That is if you like Indian food.

      • Thanks!

    • Veggie broth (or even just salted water), and add beans wherever you see fit. You’re back in action! Come on along!

    • Another good place to look for a slow cooker is garage sales. My daughter-in-law found one for me that way.

  • love!

  • What a great addition to your site! Loved reading this.

  • Will there be more of her recipes ?

  • I love sweet potatoes. Why have I never thought of sweet potato soup? This Odyssey comes at a good time since I really want to learn to maximize my slow cooker and I really want to eat better too.

  • 75% of my dinnertime meals are done in the crock pot. With a husband who is hopeless in the kitchen (on purpose, I suspect), it is the only way I can come home from a long day of fixing other people’s knitting mistakes at the shop and plop down in front of a bowl of something hot and healthy for dinner. BTW – the other 25% of my dinnertime meals are in restaurants. I’m very much looking forward to adding to my recipe repertoire!

  • Good idea for more ideas! My crockpots are going most days now. Soups and meats and stews. Oh, and one old thriftshop giant is dyeing handknit socks. But still. Can’t have too many crockpot recipes.

    • Tell Tell!
      Are you making your own socks and if so, out of what? I’m so tired of my hand knit socks felting and/or becoming stiff.
      Are you knitting white socks and dyeing them or dyeing yarn and then knitting socks?

      • You might want to try our sock yarn! It is incredibly soft and I haven’t worn a hole in my first pair yet and I made them 4 years ago! See the website for store near you or one that sells online! http://www.lgfsuris.com

      • Hi Grace – usually I dye the yarn and then knit the socks, but this time I had knitted socks in natural Blueface Leicester yarn and wore them “plain” for a while. But when I had an experimental dyepot going, I decided to add those socks for the adventure factor, Sorry you’re having felting/stiffness problems! I’ve only felted socks once, when I accidentally washed them in the machine.

  • Thank you! I need some simple crock pot recipes! Now that I’ve been retired for a few years, I need my crock pot more than ever! I get home later than ever, and my selection of recipes is very limited. This soup is on the menu for next week!

  • This is gonna be great! I already love my slow cooker because more time for knitting! I have a limited repertoire so I look forward to Carrington’s ideas as well as her wit.

  • I love this so much – what a great addition to your website!!

  • You had me at yoga pants collapsed like a fireman’s trousers. This is going to be so fun!

  • What a fun addition to the MDK site! Not only recipes, but a fun writer to boot. Kudos!

  • I am a devotee of slow cooking and more recently pressure cooking. I am going to pop in some sweet potatos right now.

  • “Don’t break my heart” -loved your blog! I liked the slow cooker demo, but I can make a stew just fine. I have a lifelong interest in construction and no talent, so I loved the middle aged mom going to college level shop. You are brave.

    PS Many vegetarians make stew all the time, and I noticed another one in the comments. A can of beans, preferably black, or chickpeas, added to the basic soup and the use of veggie stock and you’ll be all set. I have an extreme preference for the curry addition. The truly lazy among us do not puree, and so the beans make a nice addition.

  • i am going to love this!

  • This is great! Always looking for dinner inspiration. Years ago I went on a knitting field trip to Morehouse Merino Farm in Rhinebeck, NY (alas no more). We had a day of meeting the sheep and taking knitting workshops. They served us “Knitter’s Lamb Stew” made in a Crock Pot and I’ve been making it ever since. Lamb shoulder, carrots, potatoes, red wine and stock, worcestershire, dry mustard, herbs, whatever whatever. A nice basic lamb stew.

  • This recipe gets asked for everytime-chicken AND sweet potatoes
    https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/recipe/southwestern-slow-cooker-chicken-and-potato-soup-1/5626a5e3271fc584086c69c4

    • This recipe is great! I will be making it again and again.Thank you for mentioning it.

  • Another great addition to MDK! I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed reading the new contributors’ posts.

  • This is going to be a fun Odyssey – and I speak as someone who works in Ithaca. I second Debbi’s comment on the immersion blender – my favorite appliance: no more juggling batches of hot soup in & out of a regular blender plus simple clean up.
    Am surprised and happy to see I’m not the only vegetarian hoping for great recipes – thanks for starting with one we can make, like maybe tomorrow! And thanks also to Sarah Ross, for recommending “The Indian Slow Cooker” – I’m on it!

  • What a great voice! Even if I didn’t want to use my slow-cooker, I would read all the SCO posts for the narrative. “I actually checked under the pot for a puddle.” Awesome. Gotta go get me some potatoes…

  • Okay, so SCO stands for Slow Cooker Odyssey. Someone (not me) figured that out. Now please tell me, what does GOOP stand for? Feeling a little slow this morning… ‘scuse me while I get more coffee.

  • Omigoodness – this will INDEED be fun. Last night I picked up Food 52’s latest, A New Way to Dinner. This morning, Slow Cooker Odyssey! This is the journey I’ve been wanting to take. So happy to have traveling companions.

  • I heart you so much. 😀

  • I love this article and now Carrington Fox (in the metaphoric appreciative of quality writing kind of way of course). Your new website is freaking awesome.

  • It’s a sign from above. I have been debating for the past 2 weeks about buying a crockpot.

  • Pretty sure I haven’t laughed out loud at a cooking blog before (in a good, ohmygoshthatshilarious, kind of way). Will be looking forward to reading more and will definitely try a 2 ingredient soup!

  • I’ve been asking for a crock pot for years! I think I’m gonna give one to the 12yo for Christmas this year.
    I popped over to the Buttercup blog, such fun!

    • Thank you so much for visiting BuildMeUpButtercupBlog! Crock pot as gift for tween is genius. I might follow your lead. (I’ll hear all year about how he didn’t get a hoverboard. But totally worth it.)

    • In my family, we call this “lights for the train set.” When my little brother was about six, he spent his own money to buy a Mothers Day gift for our mom, a set of lights for an electric train set that he had in his bedroom. She received them graciously. And ever since then, “lights for the train set” has meant a gift that you give to someone because YOU want it.

  • I’m going to love this. Every day is new excitement from MDK. You guys are too much! Thank you!

  • Also, that photo up top in FANTASTIC!

  • If you are buying your first slow cooker or replacing a dinosaur slow cooker, I really like my combination slow cooker and rice cooker made by Cuisinart. And if you’ve suffered through burnt rice at Thanksgiving, you’ll understand why I even purchased a slow cooker for my mother to use twice a year at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  • Love this post and look forward to more recipes. It must be meant- I just bought a new crock-pot since my old one gave up the ghost.

  • I like to add carrots and white potatoes too. Makes it even better if you roast the trio before dumping in the crock pot. (Or use roasted leftovers from a night you had more time.)

  • Anyone who says, “Don’t read the comments” clearly isn’t hanging out at MDK. Knitters are the nicest people ever. Thanks for the warm welcome. Ann & Kay, thank you for letting me join in. Let’s all eat soup together someday soon, please.

    • Knitting blogs are an important exception to the “don’t read the comments” rule!

  • Just took out my slow cooker last night. Am making ” pulled pork” for dinner . For tonight and tomorrow night, as I work Saturdays and am hungry and tired when I get home.
    Didn’t have one of these when my three sons still lived at home ( over twenty years ago) , but it sure would have helped!

  • If you had to pick between veggie or beef, because of a chicken allergy, which one would you pick?

    • I think veggie with sweet potatoes, but I’d use whichever I had on hand.

  • Oh, SO happy about this addition to MDK… I am an slow cook(er)ing queen and my family will be very happy for me to add a few new recipes to my repertoire!

    • Hey Laura! Greetings from your mother’s college friend Judy!

  • Thank you! I am trying it! Got gifted w a small slow cooker and your recipe makes it easy for me to put it on her maiden voyage!

  • Great writing – but mdk is usually so good at acknowledging the rest of the world.

  • Went to the store. Brought home yams. Slow cookin’ now.

    • Bon appetit! I yam eager hear how it turns out. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)

  • I love Carrington’s quick and sassy writing! You all just keep me smiling. It’s great to know all I have to do is click on MDK on my taskbar and know I can get lost in some great writing.

  • off to a good start, except my 16 year old has an issue with sweet potatoes. the kind of issue that involves lots of bad smells and rolls and rolls of toilet paper. So I’m starting with you, but with butternut squash and chicken broth. I went with fresh rosemary, black pepper for spice and toasted pumpkin seeds for confetti.

  • Thank you for the inspiration! I put on a veggie soup in the crockpot this morning after seeing your blog topic. Perfect easy dinner for an autumn day. And I’m thrilled to see that there are so many other veg*n crockpot enthusiasts!

  • Like everybody else, delighted about this series! We have one tried-n-true slow cooker recipe, but really need more. For various reasons, I’m anticipating even less winter cooking mojo than usual this year, and I think the slow cooker may wind up being the only thing standing between us and way more takeout than is sensible (or affordable!).

    Also, I’m a complete sucker for entertainingly deployed Homeric allusions 🙂

  • You are a welcome addition to MDK Carrington Fox! I am a big proponent of no real recipe, use what you’ve got cooking so soup making happens often in my household. I used to own 3 delis and cooked massive quantities on a daily basis so cooking for 3 or 4 of us is a breeze now. But I find myself getting stuck in a rut, making the same few recipes offer and over again. And shame on me, only using the slow cooker for pulled pork and chili.

    I keep boxes of low sodium chicken broth and veggie broth in the closet, no time in my life to make broth. This time of year it’s cauliflower season and a large part of our diet so I will try this sweet potato soup with some cauliflower and carrots this weekend! I bought my immersion blender after the cauliflower/blender incident of 2003 and love it.

    • Yes, cauliflower is great for this, too. And I’m sure if we ask, we’ll find polarizing opinions on how much texture to leave in the soup after blending that would make vitriolic Election 2016 feel like a collaborative barnraising.

  • I am new to this blog and absolutely love the contents of the blog!! What a great idea you have Carrington Fox (by the way, my grandfather’s last name was Fox and from Scotland!) presenting this cooking segment! Love the idea of crock-pot recipes as we finallllllly head into cooler temperatures. As a transplant from NE to NC, summers have been the only area of adjustment (after 20 years I am
    still adjusting!) I have had to make. Thank you for your segment and looking forward to reading this entire blog when it arrives in my email!!

  • Can’t help it: how many sweet potatoes to a quart of chicken broth? I’m loosey goosey, but it does help to know approx how many.

    • Depends on size of potatoes and thickness of soup you prefer. (And ultimately on how many potatoes you have!) The key is to cover the chopped potatoes with liquid. You could do it with as few as 2.

  • This may make me finally get a slow cooker! And Nashville: I am headed there next weekend with 4 friends. I would love to know your favorite place to eat!

  • I hope some of these suggestions will be useful for people with Old Crockpots. Like my ancient Rival, that makes small quantities. Too many crockpot recipes make servings of more than 6. I need recipes to feed a family of 2 without so much left over that we’ll eat it all week.

    • Yes, the Crock Pot of my childhood is an avocado-green Rival. My mom unearthed her so I could pull her into service for the Odyssey. Stand by…

      • I used the avocado Rival for – I think – about 30 years.

  • Love it

  • OK, I’m going for it. Inspired to put baked pumpkin (from last year…had been hiding in freezer) half a chopped onion, and a lonely fresh sweet potato in for soup. Added 3/4 carton each of veggie and chicken broth from fridge. My ‘crock pot’ is the well of my beloved 1956 Chambers stove, by the way. Best appliance ever ever ever.!

    • Please report back on the pumpkin soup in time for Tuesday night supper. Happy Halloween, y’all.

      • Well, this is a little embarrassing, but I’ll fess up. I puréed it, didn’t like it, added two hefty shakes of curry powder, a squirt of honey, salt, and a splash of orange juice. Oh….and two fresh pears that were going to be too soft for lunch boxes tomorrow. Puréed it again, served with a garnish of crumbled feta and dry roast peanuts, and homemade bread. Family gobbled it up. I had no idea what to call it, and will never be able to duplicate it.

  • Really enjoyed the article and her wonderful sense of humor! Looking forward to a winter affair with my slow cooker and her recipes!!
    Lou

  • As much as I love the idea of summer, l thoroughly adore fall. I use my crockpot pretty much year ’round, but to my mind the best recipes are for cold weather. Thanks to this simple recipe, I have sweet potatoes and broth cooking away, seasoned with a bit of garam masala. Can not wait to try this out!

  • I just happen to have these ingredients. Perfect for a sunday soup. Added some grated ginger. maybe some heavy cream?

  • Add a spoonful of tomato paste, a shlosh of bourbon and lump meat crab…yummy.

  • Great idea! DH doesn’t like sweet potatoes so the butternut squash is in the crockpot. My favorite broth: Penzey’s Chicken Soup Base. Yumm!

  • I’m in th UK, so with our summers being more temperate my slow cooker has been out since September. Soups, baked fruits and of course long slow casseroles

  • 1 small sweet potato
    1 small russet potato
    1 small carrot
    12 oz of chicken stock
    pepper, herbs de provence

    My soup is blended and back in the crock pot to warm. Will serve with croutons. Can’t wait for dinner!

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe.

  • I am so glad to see you here! I have to watch my carbs, so I am totally going to try this, but substitute cauliflower for the sweet potatoes. (And maybe some broccoli. . .) Another use for the food processor I absolutely HAD to have but never use.

  • Read every single comment and thoroughly enjoyed it. Am building the soup today, but was reminded of one of my husband’s favorites, Mullagatawney, and will do that one next week.

  • OK! I’m in–got the two ingredients and we’ve had our first snow!

  • If your cheap (or poor like me) I use something called “better than boullion” it comes in beef, veggie and chicken. You stir a teaspoon in to warm water. Much more econimical. And it tastes great.

  • I don’t really understand the appeal of slow cookers. This is a really great and simple recipe but I’m not sure why you would use a slow cooker for this. I make a similar soup at least twice a month during the winter and it never takes me longer than 40 minutes to get from whole ingredients (onions and carrots included) to a puréed soup – and most of that time is the soup simmering on the stove. Two to eight hours in a slow cooker seems unnecessary, and there is nothing to add any depth of flavor in the recipe.

    • I made this today while my family and I were out of the house and would be home far our usual dinner time. Popped everything in the slow cooker and off we went. When we returned all I had to do was purée and tweak the spices. Convenient for us and no worries about leaving it unattended for any length of time since mine switches automatically to keep warm.

      • After not far…darn autocorrect. 😉

    • Everybody’s got a different life and different challenges. I work long hours some weeks. Coming home at 7-7:30 to start a dinner that I might get to eat by 8-8:30… I’d rather have it ready to serve in five minutes.

  • I took the savory route w/ one onion quartered, two garlic cloves smashed, whole bunch of smoked paprika, freshly ground black pepper, smidge of cayenne pepper, and ground cumin. Added more of these spices after pureeing plus, kosher salt, and some ancho chili powder for the win! The smoked paprika really makes it for me. Delicious! Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thank you for the update and for the paprika tip. We just sourced some Pimenton for an interesting lamb recipe, so I’m looking for ways to use the surplus.

  • I hadn’t used my old crockpot for many years, and when I dug it out to try this recipe, I found out it had died – of neglect, I’m sure. Anyway, Fred Meyer was having a sale and I got a Classic Crockpot for $14.99. Somebody mentioned the low setting is a lot hotter than it was on the old ones, and I found this to be true. I put the soup together before I left to go teach this morning, and when I came home, it was bubbling along merrily and the sweet potatoes were cooked through. I used my stick blender to purée it, and I’m adding salt and pepper to taste. Next time I either need more broth or less potatoes because it was a bit thick But I added some milk and now I just need to let it heat through again and then it’s supper time!!! 🙂

  • Thanks for the interesting idea of sweet potatoe soup. Never would have thought of it myself but sounds great. I am excited to give it a try!

  • Whenever I put potatoes in my crock pot (in soup or stew or whatever) they never seem to get done, so I end up leaving them out. I’m itching to try this soup, but I’m afraid the sweet potatoes will still be hard. I might just try a stovetop method on Saturday instead of crock pot method on a weekday.

  • Yum. I love the crock pot. Thanks this is a fun series.

    And a note for the smaller families….Cynthia Graubert has a great slow cooking book if you want to find recipes when you are cooking for 1 or 2 people! Slow Cooking for Two. It’s filled with the kind of clever tips that knitters love.

  • Thank you for the great recipe! I made it today for my daughter and she LOVED it. So easy, please do more like this!

  • Speaking of slow cookers I just watched Tanis Gray’s video “Kitchen Dyeing” and in case you didn’t know you can dye up some pretty jazzy yarns in your slow cooker. Alert: better use an old one. I can’t wait to try it.

  • I love my slow cooker! Wondering how to get lentils to be ready at the same time as the veggies?

  • Before I knew the rules and while I was still using the old style slow crockpot, I stuck a whole chicken in on its end ( I would use the word a**) but it takes extra steps on the iPad keyboard to type *) , threw in the traditional onion, carrots, celery (as much as would fit around a whole da*n chicken) some salt, maybe pepper, NO LIQUID and it turned out 5 or 6 hours later tender and moist and delicious. Then I read the rules, blushed with shame, and have lead a virtuous with-liquid soggy crockpot chicken life ever since.

    • why add liquid if your chicken turned out ok? The other veggies release their liquids as they cook. I would use the resulting liquid as a base for gravy.

  • I made soup from butternut squash. My husband actually ate a bowl, after making a face at the first taste. He does not do sweet potatoes or pumpkin. My daughter told me that most canned pumpkin comes from butternut squash. I cooked this on the stove, but a crock pot would have worked. Soup was simple: butternut squash cut in chunks, chicken broth. Added cumin and curry after pureeing with stick blender. It needed salt and pepper. Good garnish would have been sour cream.

    May try this in the crock with sweet potatoes, and black beans!

    BTW I have had several crock pots in 35 + years of marriage. Just bought one for $3 at a yard sale, it is the same model I received as a wedding gift. We use it a lot, as we wear them out! My husband loves to make his chicken caccitore, jams as much as possible in the pot.

  • Browsing MDK this morning and I run into this fine article and thread! I had just sent out the text inviting whoever to show up for dinner, as there is Thai chicken curry in the crockpot. My crockpots’ names are Mrs. Patmore, Julia, and Jacque.

  • any recommendations for immersion blenders preferably under $75

  • I have discovered Crock Pot porridge. I make a batch for me and my father in law on Sunday night, and voila! breakfast for the week. Nuke a portion each morning. Of course, both of us are creatures of habit and are content with the same breakfast every day. The weekends are for the Full English breakfast, which by then is a real treat!

  • You are my “people”!! Can’t wait to fire up the crock!!