Making Soups in Slow Cookers
Despite the fact that nearly all slow cooker recipes require long
cooking times, allowing for all day or overnight cooking at a low
setting, preparation time is normally very short. The base of any good
homemade soup is the stock. Therefore, making stock in large batches and
freezing small portions is well worth the investment of your time.
The easiest way to prepare soup in a slow cooker is to place all of
the raw ingredients into the pot with stock and simmer. This method is
particularly good for vegetable soup, yielding a result that is low in
fat and high in flavour. An alternative is to first sauté or fry onions,
vegetables and meat in advance. In addition to giving the ingredients
more vibrant colours, some schools of thought claim that this process
seals in individual flavours before allowing them to blend together
during the slow cooking process.
Adapting Soup Recipes
This simple mixed vegetable soup recipe is merely a guide. Use your
imagination to add whatever ingredients you want to make it your
personal concoction. Poultry or meat can be added at the very beginning
of the process. If you prefer using fresh herbs, double the amount. You
can even add wine or cider for an extra flavour boost.
An individual serving of soup can be transformed into a smooth
consume’ by using a hand held blender. A food processor or free standing
blender can be used for larger portions; however, be careful not to
overfill the unit. It is possible to puree’ soft vegetable soups by hand
using a large spoon to and pressing it through a sieve. Regardless of
the method used to puree your soup, it will have to be reheated if you
plan to serve it hot.
The simplest way to thicken soup is by making a small paste with
cornstarch or arrowroot mixed with a small portion of cold water and
whisking it into the hot soup. Corn starch thickens boiling liquid
instantly; but it takes about ten minutes for the flavour to balance out.
If you choose arrowroot, add it at the very end because it thickens
immediately upon reaching the boiling point, but thins out during the
Other thickening options for soup include: regular all purpose flour,
sprinkled over fried or blended with softened butter or cream; bread
crumbs for chilled soups only; a mixture of eggs and cream, egg yolks or
beaten eggs for smooth soups after they have been allowed to cool a bit.
An eye-appealing garnish adds a very special touch to any soup. A
swirl of cream or yogurt, a dash of paprika, a sprig of thyme or
rosemary all turn a simple cup or bowl of soup into a special
presentation. Grated or crumbled cheese atop a cup or bowl of vegetable
or onion soup not only adds colour, it also enhances the flavour and
consistency. Croutons and bread crumbs are also excellent garnishes that
go well with nearly any kind of soup, and they are easy to make right in
your own kitchen. Making croutons is as simple as cutting slices of day
old bread into cubes and toasting them in the oven.
For added flavour, you can add butter, garlic, cheese or other herbs
and seasonings. For best results, toss them in a little oil and bake at
200C (400F) for 12 to 15 minutes. If you’d rather prepare your croutons on
the stove top, you can do so by tossing them in hot olive oil, turning
them constantly, to assure that they brown evenly. Be sure to drain them
on a paper towel before adding them to your soup. Croutons are easily
converted into bread crumbs simply by crushing them with a rolling pin
inside a plastic bag or between two sheets of waxed paper or paper