Another thing I love? My crockpot. I say ‘my crockpot’, but I’m pretty sure this is crockpot #3 over the past few years, as we move from place to place. I love being able to toss in delicious things and have them sit for 6-8 hours and make something even more delicious. I’m always looking for great recipes that I can make and forget. This Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Soup from Add a Pinch is exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Not completely content with following recipes without a little experimentation, I’ve found that this recipe can be done two ways. One is for maximum time efficiency, and one of them is for maximum quality and flavour – unfortunately I cannot give you both unless you have a magical super-heating frying pan! To make the faster recipe, you can just dump all the non-bacon ingredients in the crock pot and press go. If you want the most out of your ingredients and have 20 minutes extra to spare, you’re in for a treat!
First, you fry some bacon. That’s right – you heard me, bacon. Four strips. We’re off to a good start already! Cut them in little strips. Not too small, maybe about a half inch wide.
I love my bacon super crispy, so this step alone will take a bit. If you’re watching your calories, you can start the next step in a separate pan or, if you’re like me and working with one frying pan, just dump the bacon grease in an empty metal can and rinse out the pan between each step. If you aren’t watching your calories, just do it all in one pan and use the bacon grease.
While our bacon is happily frying away, we’re going to chop up some veg – carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions and any other miscellaneous vegetables you would like to have in your soup. I’m all for experimentation, so if you want to do something crazy here, give ‘er.
Once the bacon’s done, take it out of the pan and let it drain on a paper-towel covered plate.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This secret is why I’m showing you the recipe for maximum flavour. Because this, ladies and gents, is how the pros do it. We’re going to take some chicken thighs, and instead of dumping them straight in the slow cooker, we’re going to brown the outside first in our frying pan.
Why do this, you ask? Browning the meat creates a layer of more complex and subtle flavours, especially when you cook it in a different oil or butter. In this recipe, we’re cooking it in the bacon grease, so it’ll add some depth to the flavour of the chicken. Yum, notes of bacon! It also caramelizes the outside of the meat, which is always a good thing! And, if you’re cooking ground meat, it will help the pieces separate and not glob together for the eight hours they’re in the pot. Now it’s important to note that you’re just cooking the outside. The inside can still be pink, as long as the outside is a nice, seared brown when you remove them.
Toss all your lovely chopped veggies into your frying pan, and add three cloves of minced garlic. Fry those up, just until everything is soft and golden brown. You don’t have to do this step, but again, it adds more complexity to the flavours of your soup.
Dump everything in the crock pot! Veggies first, then your nicely browned chicken thighs, then sprinkle the bacon on top.
You’re going to cover this whole thing with 4 cups of Homemade Chicken Stock. Add some spices, more garlic powder if you want, thyme and a little oregano. Put on the lid and promise yourself that no matter how good it smells you will not lift the lid again until those 8 hours are up! Not even to stir. Or poke. Or inhale.
Let that puppy sit for 6-8 hours on low, or on high for 3.
Once the time is up, finally open the lid and breathe in deeply. This is a very important step. If you choose, you can shred the chicken thighs, but I like to keep them whole. Plus they just fall apart in your bowl anyway, they’re so tender!
Once the time is up, pour yourself some delicious chicken vegetable soup! Serve with some sweet rolls, pretzel rolls or garlic bread (recipes all coming soon). It serves 8, or you can have delicious lunch leftovers foreverrrr. Yum!
- 4 slices of bacon, diced
- 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups mushrooms, diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 4 carrots, cut into ½” pieces
- 3 cups
- chicken broth (http://halifaxbloggers.ca/isaynomato/2015/01/07/homemade-chicken-stock/)
- 1 tsp each dried thyme, garlic powder and oregano
- Dice bacon and fry in frying pan.
- While bacon is frying, cut and dice onion, mushrooms, celery and carrots.
- When bacon is finished, remove and drain. Add chicken thighs to pan, and brown the outsides.
- When chicken is browned, remove and add vegetables and minced garlic to pan. Cook until soft and a little brown.
- In your slow cooker, put cooked vegetables on the bottom, then chicken thighs, then sprinkle bacon on top. Add chicken broth.
- Cover, and cook 6-8 hours on low or 3 hours on high.