I’ve always loved having a big bowl of steaming, hearty soup on a cold day, but I used to stick to the canned versions. I used to think that making homemade soup was a complicated and laborious process that required a “real chef.” When I got my first crockpot as a wedding gift, though, I realized that I had been going about it all wrong. (picture source)
Since I made my very first homemade crockpot soup, I’ve never gone back. Most canned soups have crazy amounts of sodium and preservatives that you’d probably rather avoid, and not enough veggies to fill you (or at least me!) up. Plus, homemade soup is delicious, filling, and you can cram a ton of veggies in to make it a complete meal! All of my soups are fairly easy to prepare (including the two crockpot versions I’ve already shared- my Chicken “Noodle” Vegetable Soup and my Quick & Healthy Turkey Vegetable Soup), but today I have one more for you. This one has a secret ingredient that you probably don’t associate with soup, but it’s a super easy way to add a kick of flavor without a handful of extra ingredients.
But first … I want to convince you to go get yourself a crockpot! It’s an easy trick to creating healthy and delicious meals with minimal effort. Here are a few reasons that you absolutely “need” one:
- It’s so quick and easy: If you have just 10 minutes in the morning, you can throw these ingredients in the crockpot and forget it all day. When you get back from work or walk in from your workout, and you’re hungry enough to eat anything in sight, you can have dinner on the table for the entire family in 5 minutes. See? The lazy chef’s key to homemade.
- It makes many servings: My full crockpot gives me about 5 huge servings of soup. Kevin and I each eat one, and then we have leftovers to save for later in the week, or to freeze - I always have a few options in my freezer in single-serve containers ready to defrost for a quick meal (without the can!).
- It’s adaptable: This recipe should be considered a loose guideline … follow the basic structure, but then throw in whatever you have on hand, and make as many substitutions as you want. It’s pretty hard to mess up a crockpot soup (although I have made one absolutely disgusting version involving rehydrated mushrooms, eggplant, and red wine … sounds OK, tasted horrendous).
- It makes the house smell delicious: I love walking in the house and smelling homemade cooking (without having to do anything!)
- It’s an easy way to cram in extra vegetables: Toss in whatever vegetables you have on hand; almost anything tastes good in soup. If you have a bunch of produce that’s on its last leg or feel like you need an extra boost of antioxidants, a veggie-filled soup is your friend!
- It’s not as expensive as you think: Just like any kitchen appliance, you can definitely get some fancy crockpots. But all you really need is a timer and a large basin (I would go for at least 8 cups). You can find some great ones for under $50!
Warm-Me-Up Chicken Quinoa Soup
For a vegetarian option, feel free to remove the chicken and add a bit more quinoa or a can of beans. (You’ll also need to substitute vegetable stock for the chicken broth).
- 4 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small zucchini, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small squash, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small tomato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables (you’ll want at least 3 cups of vegetables between the squash, zucchini, tomato, and frozen veggies, but feel free to change quantities based on what you have on hand!)
- 3 cups (packed) of chopped kale
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 2 fairly large chicken breasts (mine were 1.1 pounds total after trimming)
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 4 cups reduced sodium, organic chicken broth
- 1 cup Bloody Mary mix (there’s that secret ingredient!)
- Dice your celery and onion, and place in the bottom of crockpot. (It probably makes no difference at all, but I like to place the onions and celery on the bottom, closer to the heat source, to make sure they get soft!)
- Add in garlic and all other veggies, besides kale.
- Rinse quinoa thoroughly (to avoid saponins that may cause stomach upset) and place in crockpot.
- Lay trimmed chicken breasts on top of vegetables, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Pour broth and Bloody Mary mix on top of chicken.
- Top entire mixture with kale, and cover.
- Cook on high for 2 hours, then stir once to incorporate kale and turn crockpot to low for 5 hours. (If you won’t be home to switch it over, you can just cook the whole thing on low for 8 hours).
- Remove chicken breasts and shred completely with two forks. The chicken should be incredibly tender and shred very easily.
- Return shredded chicken to pot and stir soup to combine.
- Serve and enjoy! I highly recommend topping with avocado, nutritional yeast, shredded cheese, salsa or sriracha, tortilla chips, and/ or Greek yogurt!
Because of the Bloody Mary Mix, I’m going to go ahead and call this a “Strange But Good” creation. I mean really, who puts Bloody Mary Mix in a soup anyway? But I bought it several months ago to include in a recipe I had found for pumpkin soup (it was this one, which I never ended up making but still want to!) … and then on a whim I decided to include it. I’m glad I did!
If made according to these instructions, each serving will have 266 calories, 5g fat, 27g carbs, and 30g protein.
So tell me in the comments … Do you make homemade soups? Do you call it a crockpot or slow cooker? Do you have one yet? What’s your favorite kind of soup?