I believe it is my mission and calling in life to convince everyone to own a slow cooker. Do you not have one yet? Here are several reasons why you should:
- Slow cookers make cooking easy for anyone. You simply toss ingredients into a pot, press a button, and end up with a delicious meal. No mass of dishes, no fussing over complicated instructions.
- Slow cookers make healthy meals. Most slow cooked food does not need extra oil, therefore reducing the fat that many other dishes have. Goodbye, extra calories!
- Slow cookers save time. Though the cooking process of a slow cooker is well, slow (generally around 4-6 hours or more), the actual time that a cook needs to invest in a slow cooked meal is almost always less than with other meals. Other than preparation time for food, the slow cooker is a zero maintenance appliance. After you turn it on, you can leave it until the meal is finished cooking. I often start a meal in the slow cooker while fixing breakfast in the morning, leave the house, and return to lovely aromas and food in the kitchen. Slow cookers usually yield leftovers, cutting down on overall time spent cooking during the week.
- Slow cookers save money. Slow cooked meals are large, and are an economical way to feed a large family. Slow cookers also save money in the way of electricity. They are energy efficient, and can result in lower electricity bills.
- Slow cookers can make just about anything. If you think slow cookers are good for simply soup, chili and stew, you are quite mistaken. You can make practically anything with a slow cooker, including lasagna, meat loaf, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, enchiladas, stuffing, egg strata, pasta sauce, bread pudding, and one of my all time favorites, Hawaiian kalua pig.
Are you convinced? Good. I guarantee that after one experience with using a slow cooker, you will be hooked. Now you need some good recipes to get you started. I recommend starting with All Recipes’ Slow Cooker Main Dishes. I also own a copy of Slow Cooker Revolution from the consistently reliable America’s Test Kitchen, which is filled with endless ways to enjoy the slow cooker.
This slow cooker Creamy Tomato Soup is just as it promises to be – deeply flavored tomato soup with a creamy, thick consistency. Though it is not a dump-and-go recipe, it is still on the simpler end of soup-making, and results in a fantastic soup. The soup pairs perfectly with grilled cheese sandwiches, and can be stored in a freezer for several months. Comfort food at its best!
Creamy Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained, juices reserved
1 onion, minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra as needed
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons dry sherry
Pinch cayenne pepper
Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add tomatoes, onion, sugar, tomato paste, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until tomatoes are dry and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup broth, scraping up any brown bits; transfer to slow cooker. Stir in remaining 2 cups broth, reserved tomato juice, and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, until tomatoes break down. Discard bay leaves. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth, then transfer to large saucepan. Stir in cream, sherry, and cayenne, and add additional chicken broth as needed to adjust soup consistency. Reheat soup over medium-low heat until hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Makes 6-8 servings.