Warm-Me-Up Chicken Quinoa Soup

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.  you're doing it 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 easyIf 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 Crockpot Soup

Warm-Me-Up Chicken Quinoa Soup

Serves 5

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).

Ingredients IMG_7759

  • 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!)

Instructions

  1. 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!) IMG_7761
  2. Add in garlic and all other veggies, besides kale.
  3. Rinse quinoa thoroughly (to avoid saponins that may cause stomach upset) and place in crockpot. IMG_7762IMG_7763
  4. Lay trimmed chicken breasts on top of vegetables, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  5. Pour broth and Bloody Mary mix on top of chicken.IMG_7764
  6. Top entire mixture with kale, and cover. IMG_7766
  7. 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).
  8. Remove chicken breasts and shred completely with two forks.  The chicken should be incredibly tender and shred very easily. IMG_7769 IMG_7770
  9. Return shredded chicken to pot and stir soup to combine. IMG_7771
  10. Serve and enjoy!  I highly recommend topping with avocado, nutritional yeast, shredded cheese, salsa or sriracha, tortilla chips, and/ or Greek yogurt!  IMG_7779 IMG_7784

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! strange but good
Warm Me Up Chicken Quinoa Soup

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?

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Comments

  1. says

    Ooooh! Bloody Mary mix??? How interesting! How in the world did you decide to put that in there? Don’t you love when experiments turn into great recipes? This soup looks great! I really do need to invest in a crockpot. I think it would revolutionize my life just like my blender did!
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted…Let’s Catch UpMy Profile

    • says

      I actually found the idea in a recipe for a pumpkin soup that I still want to make … I’ve gone back to edit the post since you read it and have linked to the recipe there. YES – get yourself a crockpot!!

    • says

      OK … I have to admit I don’t actually like Bloody Marys. I love tomatoes (raw, roasted, sauce, ketchup, you name it) but tomato juice plain or in a drink just doesn’t do it for me. It’s like if I’m drinking something, it *should* be sweet, and tomatoes just don’t fit in with the concept of juice. Same with gazpacho … if you heat it up, I like it, but soup *should* be hot. And … I think I’m officially losing it ;).

    • says

      Sorry you’re still having such cold weather, Sara! We’ve had some really cold (for Dallas) weeks and an ice storm, and then it got hot (70s!) but now our weather is pretty much perfect for running – 40s and 50s! Hope you enjoy the soup and stay warm :).

    • says

      Thanks for sharing, Wendy! What made you decide to go gluten, wheat, and grain free? Do you eat quinoa (which is technically gluten, wheat, and grain free since it is actually a seed?). Glad you enjoy your soups!

  2. says

    Great recipe and I really think that everyone should have one!

    Crock-Pots for sure! Ours was a bridal shower gift … so I would say we’ve gotten the full value out of it by now! The pot is dishwasher and refrigerator safe, so we can store leftovers and then wash the whole thing out!

    We don’t do as much in it as we used to, as one side effect is that things can ‘mush up’ and end up with a monotonic flavor profile. But we still tend to do about a meal a week with it all winter long.

    As a side note, growing up we had one of the original ones – basically a hotplate with a ceramic pot on the top. It was incredibly inefficient compared to new ones.
    Michael Anderson recently posted…Is Being Called Skinny a Compliment or an Insult?My Profile

    • says

      Love that! I can’t wait to see which of our wedding gifts really stand the test of time and which will get weeded out over the years. I think the crockpot is pretty durable, though! Here’s a random fact – Kevin and I have NEVER used our dishwasher. We hand wash all of our dishes, even if we have guests. His family did it growing up and he convinced me to try it for a month – and we’ve never gone back! No more “ugh I really don’t want to empty the dishwasher” … it all gets done immediately. Very strange, I know!

      • says

        That is funny – we have a fairly strict set of guidelines around what does and does not go into the dishwasher, and so during the day the counters, tables and sink remain mostly empty as we put everything in the dishwasher. And after dinner it makes clean-up quick, and since I do most of the cooking the boys will hand-wash the remaining dishes that can’t go into the dishwasher.

        The next morning I unload the dishwasher as part of my 4AM routine … I am incredibly linear and regimented, so I never find it a hassle, it is just part of my routine (and as Lisa says, don’t get in my way! if she is up she just sits enjoying coffee as I o my thing :)
        Michael Anderson recently posted…Friday Playlist: The Best Jazz Music and More of 2013My Profile

  3. says

    I love using my crock pot! I actually have never used it to make soup though! The problem I am having is that my husband refuses to believe that soup can be a meal. (He would eat it as an appetizer or with something else for lunch, but not as his dinner). I am so intrigued by soups like this because I think it would definitely make a great dinner! I just asked him “would you eat a soup with bloody mary mix?” and he said “eh that could be good”…so maybe I am getting somewhere! I hope to try this over the long weekend- thanks for sharing!
    Lisa @ Running out of Wine recently posted…15 Random Thoughts During My 15 Mile RunMy Profile

    • says

      You must try it for soup, Lisa!! Kevin wouldn’t usually think to eat soup as a main meal, but if it’s a heartier soup like this one (and he is “allowed” to add chips and avocado and cheese!) he actually really enjoys it and feels full at the end. Let me know if you end up trying it!

  4. says

    Hello!
    I’m Diane from your SITS Tribe!
    This recipe looks and sounds delicious! I’m just getting used to using quinoa in my meals, and I have yet to be disappointed! I’ll have to add this to my shopping list.
    Diane recently posted…Keeping it GoingMy Profile

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by, Diane! I hope you try and enjoy this recipe! Check out my comment to Kim (above yours) which has links to a bunch of my other quinoa recipes, as well!

  5. Katie says

    Writing the ingredients for this down on my grocery list right now. I’ll let you know when I make it, and what my people say, although you and I can probably guess already who will like it and who will starve ;)

    • says

      Yay! Tell them that even Uncle Kevin loved it … he has taste buds just like a kid, and he still really enjoyed this! (OK, he had some tortilla chip crumbles + avocado + shredded cheese on it, but I made him taste it first and he still liked it!). So, let them load up the toppings and hopefully it’ll work. As for Brian … I have no idea :). But at least you and Paigey will have a good meal!

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