Cheap Recipe: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup

29 Sep

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Homeade vegetable soup: it's good for what ails you.

Homeade vegetable soup: it's good for what ails you.

It’s been rainy and chilly here again, so I took advantage of the fall weather (and a burst of energy at 9:00 p.m.) and whipped up this batch of soup the other evening to go in the slow cooker the following day. This is a great recipe because you can make out of just about anything. I always make it when I clean out the fridge or freezer.

I usually steer clear of slow cooker recipes that call for browned ground beef because the whole point of using the slow cooker is

Your meat doesn't have to be too lean or expensive for this recipe. I gave $1.68 for this pound of meat.

Your meat doesn't have to be too lean or expensive for this recipe. I gave $1.68 for this pound of meat.

saving time during the prep stage, but sometimes I don’t mind browning beef at night and saving it for the next day’s meal. And it was heavenly to walk in the door after work and smell my soup just waiting for me.

Begin by browning 1 lb. of ground beef. Because I had extremely cheap (and fatty) meat, I also threw in a couple of handfuls of TVP to fill out the recipe.

A bit of dry TVP will soak up that extra grease and add some more protein.

A bit of dry TVP will soak up that extra grease and add some more protein.

In the kitchen, I found several useful items on their way to expiration: A partial bag of frozen vegetables, some fresh carrots, two parsnips, some limp celery, one red apple and a sweet yellow onion. I also had one old baker potato hanging out on the counter and two small cans of crushed tomatoes in the cabinet.

This is the ultimate clean-out-your-fridge recipe.

This is the ultimate clean-out-your-fridge recipe.

You can also use squash, beans, okra, blackeyed peas, peppers, turnips or whatever else strikes your fancy. Apples always fill it out nicely when you don’t have a ton of potatoes and you really can’t tell the difference once it’s cooked.

Just throw it all in a slow cooker.

Just throw it all in a slow cooker.

As long as you have some kind of tomato (whole, diced, crushed, stewed–whatever), it will all come out resembling soup you’re used to.

Fill a slow cooker about 3/4 way full of your various vegetables and top with the browned meat. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt over the meat and vegetables.

Pour about 2 cups water over the mixture and cover. (You can do this the night before and refrigerate if you’re like me and don’t feel like browning

Any tomaters will do...

Any tomaters will do...

meat early in the morning.)

Throw the meat and salt on top.

Throw the meat and salt on top.

Cook on LOW setting for 6-10 hours, adding more water at any point if desired. Enjoy with crackers and a fuzzy sweater!

Dee-lish!

Dee-lish!

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2 Responses to “Cheap Recipe: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup”

  1. redforkhippie September 29, 2009 at 11:08 PM #

    I do a super-cheap minestrone when the weather cools off: half a bag of frozen Mediterranean-style vegetables, two cans of tomatoes, half a bag of frozen tortellini, and plenty of garlic and Italian spices. Simmer in the Crock-Pot all day and serve with loads of grated Parmesan. Mmmmm….

  2. Gracie September 30, 2009 at 10:40 AM #

    That sounds good, too. I like things that call for “half a bag” of this and that rather than “2 cups” or some weird amount that leaves an awkward amount of leftover ingredient. Halfsies are good. 🙂

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