Do you use a slow cooker?
I'm asking you because it seems to me that slow cookers are a bit like the 'marmite' of the small kitchen appliance world....one either loves them or hates them.
There doesn't seem to be an in-between.
I love mine.
I'm aware of it's limitations, but I try and work with them as much as I can and give it a gentle, helping nudge along the way.
Treat it (the ingredients) properly during their pereparation and your slow cooker will reward you with hearty, warming meals, notably flavourful soups and stews.
I was reading the 'Claytons blog' and Coby was, this time, making a 'freestyle' soup.
Coby has a basic soup 'recipe' which she varies depending on what she has in the house and of course, what she feels like eating that particular day!
If you read my comment to her, you'll see that 'freestyling' a recipe actually scares me. I worry that what I will end up with will be neither delicious nor pleasing to the beholder.
Coby's soup post is here.
But, I decided to be brave and give it a whirl in my slow cooker. This is what I ended up with..
A really gorgeous, nutritious, colourful, filling soup, which we really enjoyed!
The first thing I did was to soak a handful of dried Porcini mushrooms in a little marsala, put to one side.
Anything you can do to add more flavour, DO.
Think frying off the vegetables and chicken to give them an appealing appearance and more flavour and to aid hugely in the cooking process!
I began by sweating off in a little olive oil, some chopped onions (2), garlic (2 cloves, grated), carrot(1), celery (2-3 stalks) and yellow pepper(half).
When they had softened, I poured them straight into the slow cooker. In the same pan I fried off some chicken thighs (4 skinless and boneless) , which I'd cut into small pieces,when the chicken was golden, but before it was ready to come off the heat, I added a couple of slices of chopped up bacon and fried them together for a few minutes. This also went into the slow cooker.
I'd already put (at a guess) about a litre of stock in the slow cooker, made by adding a couple of teaspoons of Bouillon powder to some boiling water.
After throwing in the veggies, chicken and bacon, also add the mushrooms and the marsala, 1 tin of butter beans (or what ever pulse you like) and 1 tin of chopped tomatoes.
Strain the marsala through a tea-strainer though, as little gritty pieces tend to collect in the bottom of the bowl and you don't want those of course.
Add a little salt (Bear in mind the stock already contains salt) pepper and about a teaspoon of dried, mixed herbs or whatever you have at home.
I put mine on 'high' for about 5 hours...
Let your slow cooker work it's magic. And you will be repaid with empty bowls.
Now doesn't that gladden the heart?
Thanks Coby for the inspiration!