I have ditched canned soups for good.
First off, I love making soup from scratch. There is something warm and comforting about having a big pot simmering on the stove, or knowing there's some in the fridge that just needs to be heated and you’ve got instant comfort. I don’t think the can is an equal match – it is a poor substitute for something that can be so easily made fresh.
Sure, opening a can is quick, but making this soup is as quick and easy as it gets. Maybe a few minutes more works, but the pay-off in taste is worth the minimal extra effort. No unpronounceable ingredients, no metallic aftertaste, no unnecessary added sodium. The slow cooker and some ready prepared ingredients make it a snap to have fresh, flavorful soup with ingredients you chose, seasoned the way you like.
Tomato soup is my all-time favorite, perfect with a grilled cheese or crusty bread. If I am industrious, in the summer when tomatoes are fresh, I make lots of tomato soup base for the freezer. This is my winter version of that. Minutes to make and hugely adaptable.
You can whip this up before you go to bed and have soup ready for the thermos or the fridge when you wake up. You can make it before you go to work while you are getting breakfast ready and dressed for the day, then have a warm bowl of soup waiting when you get home. I’ve listed some ideas on how to change up this recipe, but use your imagination to make the perfect soup for your family.
Simple slow cooker tomato soup
Make sure your vegetables and tomatoes have no added ingredients
Serves 6 – 8
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 package frozen carrots, celery and onions (“mirepoix blend”), thawed and drained
2 teaspoons minced garlic (freshly minced or from a jar)
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 32-ounce box low-sodium chicken broth
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
1. Cut the butter into small pieces and place in the crock of a 7-quart slow cooker. Partially cover and leave for a few minutes to melt. Add the vegetables and garlic, stir to coat with the butter, cover the slow cooker and leave to soften, about 20 minutes.
2. Pour the tomatoes and broth into the slow cooker and stir to combine. Tie the sprigs of thyme and oregano together with kitchen twine to make a neat little bundle. It is OK if leaves come off, but you don’t want stems in your soup. Tuck the herb bundle into the soup, cover the slow cooker and cook for 5 to 6 hours on high, or 7 to 8 hours on low.
3. When ready to serve, fish out the herb bundle and discard. Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until smooth (you can also do it carefully in batches in a blender). Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you want a creamier soup, stir in the heavy cream and leave to warm through.
Add 1 tablespoon curry powder to the vegetables, omit the herbs, and stir in 1/2 cup coconut milk instead of heavy cream.
Add a small can of chopped green chiles to the vegetables, omit the herbs.
Stir in a can of rinsed and drained cannellini beans 20 minutes before the end of cooking time and warm through.
Stir in some cooked pasta or rice at the end of cooking until warmed through.
30 minutes before the cooking time ends, stir in some finely chopped spinach and cook until wilted and warmed through.