Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

french dip alone

I have been hearing about this recipe for months from my parents. Both of them. They make this with some regularity. Frequently enough that when I called for the recipe, my dad had it memorized. Not that it is too complicated, but still. My parents are not the only ones. I know I have seen recipes similar to this floating around on different blogs as well. Truthfully, I have no real reason to be so late to the french dip party. This is an easy recipe concept that requires almost no active time in the kitchen. Attractive? I think so. The biggest reason we had not made this sooner is probably just the lack of a beef roast (or any roast) in my freezer.

french dip plated closer side view

As I eluded to above, this recipe is as easy as they come. Prepping the crockpot is what I like to call a “dump and cook job.” There is a little more involved at the end, as the meat needs to be shredded/cut thinly, but even with that, this easily falls into a weeknight capable recipe. My parents like to use their bread-machine to make a fresh loaf of bread for the sandwiches, and I am sure that would be amazing. My only tip would be if you have a little extra time, making these ahead of time would allow you to skim some of the fat off the au jus after it cooled. The meat and remaining au jus could easily be rewarmed in the crockpot. Nonetheless, I did not do that when we made these, and we ate them just fine. πŸ™‚

These were definitely a hit at our house. Guess a gal really ought to learn to listen to both of her parents? Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
3-4 lb. rump or other beef roast
1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed French onion soup
1 (12 oz) can full-bodied beer
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
French rolls
provolone cheese

Trim any excess fat from the roast. Place in the crockpot. Pour the beef broth, french onion soup, and beer over the roast. Add the garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on low for about 7 to 8 hours, or until the beef shreds easily. Shred or thinly slice the beef as desired. Place the meat back in the crockpot with the cooking liquid and heat through.

Turn the oven to broil. Split the rolls and add meat as desired. Top with sliced provolone cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is just melted, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with the cooking liquid as au jus.

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Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

crockpot chicken teriyaki

Every time I use my crockpot, I wonder why we don’t use it more often. I probably don’t have to sing it’s praises to anyone here – ready made meal, typically little “active” cook time, and let’s be honest, it doesn’t heat up the house. The heat factor alone could be enough to sing its praises when its >100 degrees every day!

This is a recipe that I found on Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. We have a teriyaki recipe we love, but the crockpot version here was intriguing. This recipe definitely surprised me. Asian-flavored dishes are almost always a hit around here (have we discussed my husband’s Chinese buffet addiction in undergraduate?), but this exceeded my expectations. It uses boneless skinless chicken thighs which help keep the meat moist. The chicken here basically shredded itself! Even with that, I have to note my one negative point, although this is common to many chicken dishes in the crockpot. Cooking time during the work week. A 4-5 hour cook time just doesn’t work very well with my work schedule. Nonetheless, this still makes for an easy dinner on the weekend!

Enough about work, back to the food πŸ™‚

crockpot chicken teriyaki close

As written, this recipe calls for 3 lbs. of chicken. That’s a lot of food! We halved the recipe with good success. One more tip. Be sure to concentrate the cooking liquid. It makes a great sauce served over brown rice. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
From Lake Lure Cottage Chicken

Ingredients:
3 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 Tbsp. cider vinegar
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pepper
4-1/2 tsp. cornstarch
4-1/2 tsp. cold water
brown rice, cooked according to package directions

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, soy sauce, cider vinegar, ground ginger, minced garlic, and pepper. Add chicken to the bowl of the crockpot and pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until chicken is tender.Β 

Remove chicken to a platter, keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid. Pour the liquid into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and cold water. Slowly add to the boiling pot, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Serve the chicken over rice, topped with the teriyaki sauce.

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup (2)

I don’t feel like I need to speak to the beauties of the crockpot too much. A hot meal ready when you walk in the door? Not too many complaints there!Β 

While crockpots are wonderful dinner tools, one of the things I still struggle with is cooking times. Even on the best day, the crockpot is likely to be cooking whatever meal it contains for at least 10 hours. Yes, this has resulted in some over cooked meals… Because of this fact, one of the things I find myself using the crockpot for the most is soup. It is much harder to overcook soup (unless you run out of liquid – haven’t done this yet…)

chicken tortilla soup in crockpot
chicken tortilla soup close

Like many other classic recipes, there are about a million variations of chicken tortilla soup. This adaption is based off a recipe from one of my co-workers that I adapted somewhat to our tastes. I left the chicken breasts whole to cook with the soup, shredded them, add added them back to the soup. Does not get easier than this! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot Chicken Tortilla Soup
Adapted from Shannon

Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thawed if frozen)
1 large bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen or fresh cornΒ 
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 cup Black Bean and Corn salsa
1-1/2 cups cooked brown rice
8 oz. corn tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
light sour cream, garnish

Add ingredients through the salsa to the bowl of a crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Remove chicken breasts and shred. Add back to soup with cooked rice. Turn the crockpot to high to heat through, if needed.

Roughly crush the tortilla chips. Place in the bottom of each bowl. Spoon the soup over the chips. Top each bowl with Monterey jack cheese and sour cream if desired. Β 

Christmas Soup Series: White Chicken Chili

Last but not least, I’m adding white chicken chili into the mix. This is one of those recipes where I’m sure everyone has their own little variation, but no matter how you make it, it always turns out awesome! This recipe is my mom’s, and it has made an appearance more than once on Christmas Eve. 

I feel like I say this a lot, but I really, really like this soup. We made a double batch of it last Friday for the savory part of a cookie exchange party, so my husband and I have been enjoying the leftovers all week. It literally is one of those things that I could eat everyday and not become tired of it. The recipe for this soup does call for a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I have successfully swapped lower fat products including half and half and whole milk. If you are looking to try this, keep in mind that these items will “thin out” the soup a little bit more than the cream and may clump easier if they get too hot in the soup. If you are making it in the crockpot, be sure not to add any of the dairy products until about 30 minutes before you plan to serve the soup or they may curdle. A bonus with the crockpot is that your house will smell so good when you come home!

This is definitely a recipe that will allow for some tailoring, so if something sounds like it would go well in here, try it! I know I’ll be enjoying my last bowl tomorrow. Merry Christmas everyone!

(Printable Recipe)

White Chicken Chili
From Mom

Ingredients:
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded
1 Tbsp. oil (only if cooking in stockpot)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 cans (14.5 oz each) white beans (navy beans), rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cans (4oz) chopped green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1-1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream

If cooking in a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic powder and saute until the onion is translucent. Add beans, broth, chiles, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and heavy cream. 

Crockpot directions: Add all ingredients except the sour cream and heavy cream to the crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Add the sour cream and heavy cream about 30 minutes before serving to allow the soup to re-warm after the addition.

Christmas Soup Series: Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Day 2 of soups for Christmas. This is one of the other recipes that my brother made last week while he was visiting. It is a little similar to this soup recipe that I posted last year in that it contains both sausage and red wine, but the soups are distinct enough that I am considering them different. 

Of all the things on my blog, my soups are probably one of the things that we “repeat” the most at home. You other bloggers know what I am talking about. The “are we having something new again for dinner” syndrome. This soup is definitely up with the others in flavor, and that is considering that we really like all of the soups posted here. Given the fact that my brother served us this during the same meal as the chocolate-chip toffee cheesecake, I would certainly say we had a great meal!

Similar to the minestrone, the pasta in this soup will soak up some of the liquid as it sits. Just add extra broth to your preference when you reheat it. This one also calls for red wine, but it can be substituted for the beef broth if you prefer. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet Italian chicken/turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (14.5) oz. diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups quartered zucchini
8 oz. fresh whole wheat tortellini 
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, brown the sausage, crumbling as you cook it. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain the fat.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion begins to soften. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Skim fat from the soup if necessary (should be very little if you use chicken/turkey sausage). Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

Crockpot directions: Cook the sausage as directed. Place all ingredients except tortellini and Parmesan cheese in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook tortellini separately on the stove according to package directions and add just before serving. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

Christmas Soup Series: Jamie’s Minestrone

Growing up we had quite a few Christmas traditions. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, we’d get up early to grab donuts before heading to the Christmas tree farm to pick out/cut down our tree. We also had a paper nativity scene that doubled as an Advent calendar. My brother and I would alternate days of putting up each character, often squabbling over who would get to put the star up over the manger on Christmas Eve.

One of the other traditions that I still continue – soup on Christmas Eve. The kind has changed over the years (there was a time when I would have a can of Campbell’s chicken and stars because the rest of the family was having oyster stew…), but the idea of soup has stayed constant. We’ve done stews, chili, homemade chicken noodle, and even played with the idea of bread bowls, but it’s always homemade and always great! Plus, it is low stress as you can put it in a crockpot and forget about it. Bonus that it leaves room for Christmas cookies πŸ™‚

As I don’t have too many Christmas cookie recipes to share with you this year, I thought I would let you in on our little tradition and offer up a few soup recipes leading up to Christmas Eve. 

The first soup is a classic – minestrone. I have made this recipe a couple of times, and I really enjoy it as it is everything a minestrone soup should be: great flavor and loaded with vegetables. The recipe calls for red wine. If you are worried about including alcohol, it could certainly be replaced with some additional broth, however if you can, I would strongly suggest you include it. I love the flavor red wine adds to soups. One thing to note is that the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid (even when fully cooked), so cook it al dente and only add it a few minutes before serving. This is especially important if you are making the soup in a crockpot! For the leftovers in this case, I have just been adding a little bit more broth as needed when I heat it up. 

Feel free to join in if you want. It’s a fun tradition to start! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Jamie’s Minestrone
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
2 cups water
4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 can (14.5oz) low-sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed into 1-inch pieces
2 cups baby spinach
3 small zucchinis, quartered and sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup small whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
shredded Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. If using, add red wine. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.

Cook pasta separately until al dente according to package directions. Drain and add to soup. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Crockpot directions: Follow the first step through cooking the onions. Add the sauteed onions and garlic to the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients except the pasta, spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook the pasta until al dente as directed above and add to the crockpot with the spinach just before serving. The heat will wilt the spinach. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

SRC: Crockpot BBQ Chicken Loaded Baked Potatoes

Another month, another Secret Recipe Club post. I can’t believe how fast this past month has gone! Summer – unofficially out the door, my birthday – yesterday, my residency – picking up steam like an unstoppable freight train, football – depending on the league you follow started either last week or this past weekend. I guess fall must really be knocking on the door because they are forecasting temperatures below the triple digit mark here next week. Not sure I am ready yet…

This month for SRC I was assigned Tami from Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk. I am somewhat familiar with Tami’s blog as she is the wonderful host of the Cookie Carnival in which I’ve been involved for quite awhile. While I’ve somewhat known about her blog through the carnival, I was excited to get a chance to look around! Much of the time I’ve spent over there has involved cookies in some form, so I wanted to find a non-sweet dinner recipe from her archives.  As it turns out, this was harder than it sounds as Tami has some yummy sounding desserts over there! Nonetheless, I ended up combining two of her recipes – BBQ chicken sliders in the crockpot and homemade BBQ sauce to make a great, non-involved, easy dinner.

My only change to her recipes was omitting the whiskey from the barbecue sauce. In reality, this wasn’t an intentional change. If you are worried about the alcohol, it will all cook off while the mixture is boiling. My issue was the lack of whiskey in our pantry. I swore we had some but when I went to look for it, none was to be found. As a result, my barbecue sauce ended up a little on the sweeter side. While it was still great, I think the whiskey in here serves the purpose of cutting the sweetness a little bit. I also blended it with my immersion blender at the end to incorporate the onion chunks. 

The idea for this pairing came from our love loaded baked potatoes. Not the side-dish kind. The meal kind with chicken, onions, and cheese. It has been a long time since we have had them! Growing up, mom always made ours with canned or rotisserie chicken mixed with bottle barbecue sauce. By combining Tami’s recipes for BBQ sauce and crockpot pulled chicken, I was able to make both from fresher ingredients in my own kitchen with only a little bit more effort. By making the barbecue sauce ahead of time one Sunday morning and cooking the chicken with it in the crockpot later that day, the only step left was cooking the potatoes and chopping a few ingredients right before serving. A perfect busy day recipe. Success if you ask me. My husband is already asking for them again!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Loaded Baked Potato
Adapted from Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk

Ingredients:
BBQ sauce:
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp. mesquite flavor liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. tobasco sauce
2 Tbsp. whiskey (optional)

Loaded Baked Potatoes:
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 cups of BBQ sauce
5-6 russet potatoes
cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream
red onion, diced
black olives, sliced
aluminum foil

For the barbecue sauce, warm a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic with the whiskey until the onion begins to soften. Combine remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If a smoother sauce is desired, blend with an immersion blender or let cool and add to a regular blender. Blend until smooth. Use 1-1/2 cups in the following recipe. Save the remaining sauce in the refrigerator.

Layer the chicken breasts into the crockpot by alternating one piece of chicken with a little barbecue sauce. Add the remaining barbecue sauce over the top of the chicken. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. After 4 hours, check to see if the chicken is cooked through. It should begin to shred itself if it is finished cooking. If it is not quite done, continue to cook for another hour. Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Shred using two forks. Place the chicken in a resealable container and mix with any remaining barbecue sauce from the crockpot. Refrigerate until ready to use.

On the day you are planning to eat the potatoes, wash and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped, raw potatoes in the clean crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When ready to eat, warm the chicken on the stove or in the microwave. Add more barbecue sauce to the chicken if desired. Top the potatoes with your desired ingredients. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry

We are back! If you noticed the absence of my posts last week, the hubby and I were able to get away to Antigua to jointly celebrate our anniversary and graduations (his was last year). We had a great time, and it was nice to spend some time relaxing! While we were away, summer definitely arrived in Arizona! Our temperatures have been north of 110 for the past two days, and even though I love baking, you couldn’t pay me to turn my oven on today πŸ™‚

Because I knew these hot days were coming, I was on the lookout this spring for great dinner recipes that wouldn’t involve heating up the house. Anything involving only cooking pasta/grains for a short time on the stove, the slow cooker, or the grill was game. This recipe is originally from Salt and Paprika, although I followed Kristin’s adaptions on Iowa Girl Eats. I love curries but don’t make them at home very often, so I was excited to give this one a whirl.

The recipe came together great! If you follow Kristin’s adaptations, you’ll end up with enough “sauce” for two recipes which is a double bonus for busy days. The biggest struggle I had with this recipe was finding the Garam Marsala! With the recent popularity of Indian dishes, I feel like this mixture shouldn’t be that hard to find, especially where we live. Nevertheless, we had to go to 3 different grocery stores before we finally found it in the bulk spices at the local market. If you also have trouble locating some, it is something that can be made at home too. My only change to Kristin’s method was to increase the cornstarch mixture. My hubby has a thing for thicker sauces in dishes like this. He wants the sauce to coat the meat/veggies not sink into his rice, so I tend to go a little heavier on the cornstarch than is called for in most recipes. Completely personal preference.

I served this with basmati rice and whole wheat homemade naan (recipe to come soon), and it made for a great, non house-heating meal. I know I’m already looking forward to using the other half of the sauce currently living in our freezer! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry
Originally from Salt and Paprika, adaptions from Iowa Girl Eats

Ingredients:
1/2 large onion
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 small can tomato paste
1 can (14.5 oz) light coconut milk
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 Tbsp. Garam Marsala
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into big chunks
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. cornstarch (May add more if desired. Just mix it in a little water before adding)
basmati rice, prepared according to package directions
naan, warmed

Place bell pepper and onion into a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add in garlic cloves, tomato paste, coconut milk, salt, curry powder, and Garam Marsala and process until smooth. Divide the sauce in half (for me, half was just a little less than 2 cups). Place half the sauce into a freezable container and freeze to make this dish again at another time. 

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Combine with the remaining sauce and cook in a crockpot on low for 4 hours. After 4 hours, dissolve water and cornstarch together and add to the crockpot. Keep the lid cracked and cook on high for another 10-15 minutes. You can also transfer the sauce to a saucepan and simmer on the stove top over medium heat for 3-5 minutes if desired.

Serve with prepared rice and naan. If desired, the naan can be warmed by wrapping in foil and placed in the oven on broil for a few minutes. Enjoy!

Chile Verde Pork

I have to admit that my crockpot is not an appliance that gets a lot of use at my house. I do use it frequently in the winter to slowly warm heartier soups like chili, but I don’t use it very often (if at all) to cook much else. When we were first married, I had a “bad-experience” with a roast that didn’t finish cooking until around 11:00PM. It was delicious when it was done, but at that point, it was a little late to eat dinner πŸ™‚  

I would really like to get into using my crockpot more as I know that my year will be getting substantially busier starting in July. Not to mention that slow-cooking all day long usually results in a great meal! This Mexican pork recipe is my first attempt at getting back into the crockpot world. I found the recipe on Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, but Mel mentions that she adapted it first from The Sisters Cafe. You can’t go wrong with Mexican food in this house, and in her post, Mel raves about how good this pork is. Okay, I’m in.

I am thankful to report that my 2nd attempt at a large chuck of meat in my crockpot went much better than the first! There actually are quite a few steps in this for a crockpot recipe, but Mel explains her work well, and it turned out wonderful. I actually had to shoo my husband away from the crockpot after I shredded the meat because he kept sneaking forkfuls πŸ™‚ Mel states that you shouldn’t skip the step about reducing the sauce, and I agree. It helps keep the meat moist and adds so much flavor. The green chiles and green enchilada sauce in there give it just enough kick, but not so much that it ends up falling into the “only for spicy lovers category.”

The ingredient list does get a little lengthy, and you might be wondering what I made for 2 people with 5 lbs. of meat? The fun thing about a meat recipe like this is that you can use it in anything. I’ve made chicken enchiladas and pork tostadas, and have 3 more bags of meat portioned out for us in the freezer. That’s 6 meals total (2 meals of the enchiladas). Pretty good if you ask me. We have chile pork tostadas back on the menu this week, and I know we’re both looking forward to them. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Chile Verde Shredded Pork
From Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. canola oil
5 lbs. boneless pork roast, trimmed of as much fat as possible
salt and pepper for seasoning the roast
2 yellow onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely minced or crushed
1 (15 oz) can green enchilada sauce
2 (14 oz) cans diced green chiles
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 beef bouillon cube (or 1 tsp. beef bouillon granules)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Cut the roast into 3-4 large chunks. Season the pork generously with salt and pepper on all sides. In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat until the oil is shimmering and hot. Add the pork (in shifts if necessary), and brown on all sides until golden and well-browned, about 30 seconds to a minute on each side. Leave the roast in the pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Place the pork, garlic, and onions in the slow cooker. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours. 

After the roast has cooked for the allotted time, remove the roast and shred into bite-sized pieces. Set aside, covered with foil to keep warm. Pour the remaining liquid and ingredients from the slow cooker into a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil on the stove, and simmer vigorously over medium-low or medium heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking or burning, until the mixture is considerably reduced and thickened. Add the shredded pork and sauce back to the slow cooker. Stir to coat the pork with the sauce. Turn the crockpot to low or high and allow the pork to heat through again. Serve with warm tortillas or use to fill burritos, enchiladas, etc.

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup

Finally, I’ve got the soup recipe that I posted about over a week ago on my facebook profile! When I posted it to my status, I claimed that “I just made the best soup for supper.” I’ve talked on here before about how winter = soup in my mind, and this one definitely fits the bill of a hearty, fill-you-up winter meal. It is true that I haven’t met too many soups that I don’t like (as long as they don’t contain any seafood), but I promise that this one is worth trying.  It can be pretty healthy too, especially if you swap in turkey sausage for the pork sausage.

I saw this recipe on Julie’s site Little Bit of Everything, but it originally comes from An Oregon Cottage. I’ve actually made it twice already – once in the slow cooker and once on the stove-top since I ran out of time to use the slow cooker. The recipe is originally written to be a slow cooker recipe, but I actually preferred the stove-top one. When we made it in the slow cooker as directed, my orzo got REALLY soft. Too soft. It was almost falling apart. This could be easily remedied by cooking the orzo separately and mixing it in just before serving, and I may try this the next time I make this soup.  My other comment is that it is a thick soup and only becomes thicker with storage as the pasta soaks up the liquid. If you like your soup with a little bit more liquid, you may want to add a little more stock/wine.

Definitely don’t let my pasta comments deter you from making this soup. There are lots of options as far as ingredients in this soup, so you can really adapt it into whatever you want it to be. I can tell you that the four of us here, 3 adults and 1 child, ate almost the whole recipe in one meal. Serve it with some crusty bread and enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Slow Cooker Italian Sausage Vegetable Soup
Adapted from An Oregon Cottage

Ingredients:
1 lb. Italian turkey sausage (I used Honeysuckle mild turkey sausage with great results!)
4 c. beef stock (may want extra for more liquid)
1/2 c. dry red wine (or more stock if you want to omit the wine)
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed (can also use garbanzo beans)
2 c. chopped spinach (can also use cabbage, chard, or kale)
2 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
2 c. chopped green beans (if using frozen, thaw a bit and add about 45 minutes prior to serving)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 c. orzo (or other small pasta)
fresh grated Parmesan for garnish (optional)
parsley for garnish (optional)

Slow cooker method:
If using uncooked sausage, cook it in the skillet until brown, drain and transfer to the bowl of the slow cooker. Combine the stock with the wine and pour over the meat. Add the remaining ingredients except for the last 3 (and green beans if frozen). Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours. About 45 minutes before serving, add the green beans (and turn the cooker to high if you are using the low setting). In a medium saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions. Mix with the soup just before serving. Serve with Parmesan and parsley if desired.

Stove-top method:
If using uncooked sausage, cook it in the skillet with the onions and garlic until cooked through. Drain fat if necessary.  Combine the stock with the wine and pour over the meat. Add the remaining ingredients except for the pasta and garnishes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cook the orzo according to package directions. Mix with the soup just before serving. Serve with Parmesan and parsley if desired.