It’s 46° in Indianapolis today, so I hit the kitchen to make a pot of vegetable soup. Since I try to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible, I’ve made this recipe super efficient over the years. It makes a remarkably large amount of soup, so have some freezer containers on hand to store the leftovers for later in the season.
The recipe I’m using today uses beef, but I’ve made it with chicken, pork and with those big floppy ‘shrooms with a few adjustments. It’s very forgiving and open to experimentation, so this is more of a guide than a recipe. Go nuts with your Crock Potsâ„¢, Persephoneers!
I start by browning 1.5 lbs of a cheap cut of beef, cut into 1″ cubes. To brown, put roughly a tablespoon of oil (vegetable works best, it doesn’t scorch easily) in a heavy skillet and heat for 4 minutes, until it just begins to smoke. Place your meat cubes in the oil with tongs (hot oil splatter is not your friend) and cook for two minutes. Don’t futz with the meat while it’s browning, and set the timer. When it dings, flip the pieces over to brown on the other side for another two minutes. If, like me, you have trouble cutting meat into equal pieces, brown the bigger pieces for a few additional minutes until it looks delicious.
Scoop out the meat and drop it in the CrockPotâ„¢.
Next, get out your favorite big, honking knife and chop up:
3 large carrots, cleaned but with the peel still on
3 large stalks of celery
12 baby red potatoes, with peel (all the vitamins and fiber are in the peels)
1/2 a good sized onion (I like white onions, b/c they’re mild, but yellow and red will work too)
1 clove of garlic
1 spicy pepper (seeded)
Drop all of your chopped veggies in the CrockPotâ„¢.
This is where I cheat, because I add a bag of frozen peas and a bag of frozen cut green beans. Fresh would probably be best, but I hate snapping green beans. I’m not a fan of corn, so I never use it, but if you like it, throw in a bag of frozen corn as well.
Pour 2 cups of beef stock (I use ready-made most of the time, but homemade stock is the yum.) and 2 cups of V8 juice over the meat and veggies and stir. Add a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper.
Put on the lid, turn the slow cooker to low and set a timer for 8 hours. Stir every half hour or so. Keep some extra V8 on hand in case the liquid cooks below the stuff, you want to keep everything covered in liquid. Taste a bit of the broth at about 5 hours into the cooking and add any seasoning you think it might need. (I like tarragon, celery seed and a tiny pinch of fennel.)
I serve it with a salad and bread & butter on the side. Like I said up top, it makes a LOT of soup, so I end up freezing at least half and with a good amount in the fridge for the next few days.