Crock Pot Beer and Potato Soup

It’s getting cold out there, which means it’s time for crock pots and thick soups and scarves. We had a whole bunch of potatoes that badly needed using up, so I went and hunted up several recipes for beer and potato soup.

Ingredients:

  • a can of beer (whatever: nice beer is nice, but I used Miller Lite that has been in our fridge since we moved in)
  • a cube of bouillon or a can/box of broth
  • some onion
  • pepper
  • garlic

    IMG_1202

    The cheese isn’t really optional: it’s amazing.

  • Worcestershire sauce
  • a fuckton of potatoes
  • milk
  • optional: like a pound of shredded cheddar
  • optional: croutons

Put as much onion and garlic and pepper as you like in the bottom of your crockpot. I used like two spoonfuls of minced garlic and a spoonful of onion. Add your cube of bouillon and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, then your whole can or bottle of beer.

Now it is time to wash your potatoes and start cubing them. How many potatoes? As many as you have, or until you’re about half an inch from the top of the crock pot. Just keep going. It’ll take a while – just think of the payoff, though, in that you will end up with tons and tons of soup.

When your crock pot won’t hold any more potatoes, add water (or broth) until they’re just covered. Now stick your crock pot on low for between six hours and eternity. This is potato soup: it does not give a damn how long you cook it.

Just before you plan to eat it, you can mash the potatoes with a fork for a dense chowder type thing. Add a dollop of milk and your pound or so of shredded cheddar and stir until the cheddar is melted. You can go for just milk if you have something against cheese or no time, but why? Why would you do that when you can have tons of cheese. Serve with croutons on top.

Serves approximately half an army, or you for most of the winter if you have containers and room in your freezer.

Sausage and Pear Stuffing

This recipe for slow cooker pear and sausage stuffing looked amazing, but also like it involved effort, so we simplified it a bit.

Ingredients:

  • some onion
  • two boxes stuffing mix
  • roll of pork sausage (meant to get two but forgot – it’d probably work either way)
  • half a bag of dried cranberries
  • 5 pears
  • 3 eggs
  • butter
  • chicken broth

Again, I had an assistant, which made some things easier: E did the pears while I did everything else. You could probably do it while the sausage is cooking, though.

Start the sausage on medium-low on the stove.

Cut a couple tablespoons of butter into slices and put those in the crock pot. It says melt it, but whatever, who wants to do dishes? Add a couple generous splashes of chicken broth and the eggs to the crock pot and stir vigorously with a big nylon spoon that won’t scratch the crock pot. It’ll be sort of goopy. It is apparently supposed to be sort of goopy. Whatever!

Poke at the sausage.

Add half a bag of dried cranberries to the crock pot, start slicing pears, and add those as you go. The goopy egg stuff will stop the pear from browning – though it shouldn’t take that long, so that wouldn’t be much of a concern anyway.

Poke at the sausage. Is it almost done? If it is, add some of the half-sautéed onion you keep in your freezer because who the fuck wants to smell raw onion every time they have to cook with it?

When the sausage is done, add it to the fruit. Mix that together, then add one of the boxes of stuffing. Mix all of that together. Then add the second box of stuffing and it will become apparent why you’ve done the mixing in multiple stages: the crock pot will be pretty full. Like, awkwardly so. Pour some chicken broth over the top, then carefully mix the stuffing more. You should be getting some of the good stuff from the bottom, like butter slices and cranberries. Add some more chicken broth: I used a total of about half a box.

Put the lid on and stick it on high for four hours, stirring in the middle. It tastes absurdly amazing, stores well, and reheats perfectly.

Crock Pot Oatmeal

We’re out of bagels and eggs both, which means my easy options for the morning are . . . toast. Just toast.

I realized that about 2am last night, and really did not want to deal with toast in the morning, so I threw together oatmeal in the crock pot. I know a couple people who make it that way, but they wouldn’t have taken it as a kindness if I called them for a recipe at two in the morning.

I absolutely winged it, but it turned out pretty okay, so here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • steel cut oats
  • water (sub milk for part of it, probably, if you want it creamier)
  • brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg

I have one of those big round cardboard cylinders of Quaker steel-cut oats, because I use them for making the topping for apple crisp. Use steel-cut instead of instant, because I don’t know what would happen if you used instant oatmeal and cooked it for seven hours, but it probably wouldn’t be good. The package has directions for how much water and oats to use for certain serving sizes, but the instructions are for making it stove-top, so I dumped about a cup of oats in the crock pot and resigned myself to making it up as I go along.

Oatmeal without seasoning is just a sad Calvinist self-flagellation, so then I added about a third of a cup of brown sugar. It ended up a bit sweet but not as sweet as, say, pancakes with syrup, so adjust by how much you want your day to start with candy. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon and nutmeg. I then added two cups of water, because the instructions called for one cup for a half-cup of oats or one and three quarter cups for a cup of oats. Whatever, the proportions ended up right. You can probably stick to 2:1 proportions unless you’re not adding any sugar at all (why?) or you’re making it for a huge number of people.

Then I turned it on low and went to bed. At 10am, I stuck some in a bowl, and it was delicious.

Creamy Potato Soup

It’s still soup weather, so I tried out a recipe T’s mom sent me for potato soup. Being incredibly disorganized and having used the last of the non-flavored cream cheese on cheesecake, I ended up making some substitutions.

It turned out pretty well, so here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • bag of hash browns
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 4 cups water, though if I make it again I’ll probably use 3 and make it a little thicker
  • 2 cubes of bouillon
  • 3 chicken thighs
  • little bit of sautéed onion, garlic, salt and pepper to taste
  • shredded cheese

Like, just throw all of it but the shredded cheese in the crock pot. Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized chunks, but everything else just gets dumped in. Turn the crock pot on high, cover it, and walk away for two hours. Stir it once or twice, then walk away for another two hours. I think it’d be more like six on low.

When you’re dishing it up, put shredded cheese on top.

If you want to add vegetables, shredded carrot or zucchini would probably work well, but this is ridiculously simple and filling and good, and I’m going to have leftovers for ages.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

So I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, and then adjusted it for lazy jerks. And, even better, the version we had today was made entirely in the crock pot. Well, except for one of the garnishes, but we’ll get to that.

Ingredients:

  • 5 chicken thighs
  • taco seasoning
  • 1 can black beans
  • garlic
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can Original(!!!) Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1 packet fajita seasoning
  • 1 packet chipotle seasoning
  • 1 of those boxes of low sodium chicken broth
  • tortillas
  • mexican cheese

So I like to use chicken thighs, because they’re cheaper and pack more iron and aren’t a whole lot more fat. I’m prone to anemia and try to manage it through diet, so we’d probably go with chicken thighs even if they weren’t cheaper. The golden part of this recipe, though, is that they end up shredded and covered in seasoning, so you cannot tell the difference.

Whether I’m making this entirely in the crock pot or not, I start the chicken in the crock pot. Dump in the chicken, the fajita seasoning and the chipotle seasoning, add a generous splash of chicken broth, cover it, put it on high, and walk away for a couple hours. Hell, don’t even set a timer if you’re in scent range. Wander vaguely back in a couple hours and grab a couple forks to shred some chicken. It’ll be on the moist side, and might be tricky to get it all equally shredded, but you don’t have to care, it’s rustic or whatever. Shred enthusiastically, trying not to scratch the hell out of the sides of your crock pot, make sure the seasoning’s all mixed in, put the lid back on, and leave it for however long. I want to say I usually leave it for another two hours, but I really don’t know. I think the batch I made with tequila instead of chicken broth for this stage (excellent, definitely recommend, we just don’t keep tequila in the house) I left for six hours total. It’s pretty forgiving!

If you’re making it stovetop, you can turn off the crock pot now, and either transfer the chicken to a pot or to a container if you don’t feel like doing more cooking for that day. It all works! And if you’re going to move forward with the soup another day, no one will notice if you stick a little bit of your delicious shredded chicken in a quesadilla and have one of the most quality quesadilla experiences of your life.

But to do this crock pot style, now’s when you add the black beans, corn, chilies and tomatoes, garlic, and chicken broth. If you drain the beans and then rinse them (I have started using a colander for this since we have a dishwasher, but rinsing them in the can using the mostly-detached can lid to keep the beans in is also a legitimate life choice), everything tastes a little better. I added a heaping tablespoon of diced garlic, because garlic is good in everything and makes life better. For the chilies and tomatoes, make sure you have the Original – Rotel also makes Chunky, and that was a horrible and tragic surprise. Who likes big chunks of tomato?

Just, like, dump everything in there. Go for it. Stir it, add some extra taco seasoning if you’re feeling it. Cover and ignore until you’re hungry (the stove top version only needs like half an hour). If it starts getting really enthusiastically hot and boiling over or anything, turn it down to low, but that should take ages. This soup is really forgiving.

When you want to eat it, fire up your skillet or non-stick frying pan and grab a tortilla. Cut it in half, then cut that half into strips, then cut the strips so they’re just a couple inches long. And here’s a tip: you can use stale tortillas for this. As long as they are still otherwise good, go for it, because now you’re gonna dump them in the skillet and fry ’em until they’re starting to turn golden brown. Flip them so both sides get crispy, using either a flat spatula or (if you’re an idiot like me) your fingers.

Dish up the soup and add some shredded cheese – Monterey Jack, or one of those pre-shredded Mexican blends you can probably get at the supermarket – and your delicious crispy tortilla strips, and you have utterly delicious soup.

I usually just cut up one tortilla for the two of us and that makes plenty of tortilla strips for a bowl each, but the soup serves like four to six depending on bowl size, so adjust for that. Like all soups, though, it’s even better the next day, which makes being able to whip up fresh tortilla strips in about five minutes fantastic: everything’s still fresh and delicious.