Even if you aren't a soup aficionado, condensed soups can be a lifeline in the kitchen. Although they're ideal to have on hand for those under-the-weather days and nights when soup is the only thing that satisfies, they are also perfect add-ins for some of your favorite recipes. Because your slow cooker cooks on the "slow and low" method, simmered soups impart flavors into the main star of the meal all day long while you conduct the more important necessities of life.
Regular cream, milk and sour cream cannot be added at the beginning of the slow cooking process as they break down over time, so the cream soups, such as mushroom, celery and potato, are an ideal substitute for dairy. Make a kid-friendly meal with cream of mushroom soup, ranch seasoning mix, chicken broth and chicken breasts. For the adults, a little wine combined with your favorite cream soup turns chicken into a French culinary classic that greets you as you walk in the door. It's also a nice dish to have at the ready when your day is filled to the brim and company is calling. Cream of celery or potato soup work beautifully with chicken or vegetable-based recipes, or a classic side such as a broccoli-cheese casserole. Rice dishes cooked in a slow cooker become rich and creamy when either of these cream-based condensed soups adds moisture to the dish.
Basic Condensed Soups
Soups that are not cream based, such as tomato, French onion or bean with bacon, are also handy to have for slow cooker meals and easily replace some of the water or stock in a recipe. Beef roasts bathed in French onion soup create a delicious, rich dinner, and the aroma wafts through the house to give the illusion you've slaved away in the kitchen all day. Tomato soup combined with ground beef or ground turkey creates a rich, Eastern European goulash. Kid-friendly franks 'n beans satisfies the munchkin crowd when cooked all day with cans of beef with bacon soup serving as the base. Add some vegetables to these slow cooker meals by serving a side salad topped with sliced veggies and a creamy dressing.
Condensed soups and slow cookers are a recipe for success when teaching children how to cook. Consider the slow cooker your gateway appliance to the more dangerous stove and oven. A recipe incorporating condensed soups makes it easy to keep little hands busy in the kitchen pouring soups into a slow cooker or stirring them together in a bowl as you talk about addition and subtraction. Condensed soups and slow cookers also teach bigger hands self-sufficiency. If your teen is craving pot roast for dinner, and he leaves for college in six months, show him how to make an easier version of your 15-step, multi-ingredient roast by combining cans of condensed soup to create a braising liquid. Then, he can just pour the liquid over a roast in the pot. It also won't hurt him to learn how to scrub and peel vegetables, either.
A little trick to stocking up on condensed soups is that once a month, your local grocery stores will typically run specials on condensed soup. You can combine those specials along with a coupon to leave the store with food in your cart for slow cooker meals and plenty of money still in your wallet. That savings will be calculated over several meals.
- University of Minnesota Extension: Slow Cooker Food Safety
- "Taste of Home The New Slow Cooker"; Jennifer Olski; 2007
Kristie Brown is a publisher, writer and editor. She has contributed to magazines, textbooks and online publications. Brown holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.