At one point in time, I owned four slow cookers. They ranged in size from small enough for two, to large enough to feed an army. And I hardly ever used any of them.
These days, I've narrowed it down to just three, and I'm finding more and more uses for them every day.
My smallest slow cooker is the perfect size to make overnight oatmeal for two, with a little left over to make oatmeal bread. Our large cooker used to hold gallons of SpaghettiOs for large potluck gatherings, or acres of mac and cheese. Using the slow cooker was a great way for the kids to be able to help themselves while we parents sat and socialized. No muss, no fuss.
These days, I'm finding that our medium-sized slow cooker is perfect for soups and stews. We have enough for dinner for two, lunches too, plus maybe a little to pop in the freezer for "get your own dinner" night.
When I came across a recipe for a creamy potato soup using instant mashed potato flakes, it sounded great to me. I love mashed potatoes and I love soup. Why not marry the two? But I wasn't too keen on the instant flakes. I do use them sometimes, but I felt that there had to be a way to bring this soup together using real potatoes and savory chicken stock. Off to the kitchen I went.
It really only took two tries to get this soup recipe to come together. Five ingredients, less than 5 hours, and you'll be able feed at least five people. It's a bargain, no?
Let's make Creamy Potato Garlic Soup.
In your 4 to 6 quart slow cooker, place 1 1/2 pounds of white potatoes that have been scrubbed and sliced into 1/4" rounds. Look for thinner skinned boiling potatoes.
Should you peel 'em? It's really up to you. We've made it both ways, and tend to prefer the unpeeled version, but the food police are on vacation so do what pleases you most.
Thinly slice 1 large peeled onion, and add that to the pot. Cover with 6 cups good-quality chicken stock, and toss in 4 to 6 cloves peeled garlic.
Cover with the lid and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours. If you want to cook while you're at work, you can cook on the low setting for 6 to 8 hours instead.
Towards the end of the cooking time, when the heavenly scent is driving you crazy, test a few of the potatoes. You'll want them fork tender and falling apart.
if you have a stick blender, this is the perfect time to use it. You can purée the soup right in the crock. If you don't have one, simply use your blender or food processor to purée. Remember, though, the soup is still very hot; so use care and caution.
**Stop here if you want to freeze the soup. It will keep beautifully for up to 4 weeks in the freezer.**
If you're serving the soup right away, pour in 1 cup of heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste. Blend, blend, blend some more until you have a creamy, smooth soup.
Trying to watch calories? You can use half & half, or even 2% milk instead of heavy cream. The higher the fat content, though, the richer your soup will be. I haven't tried it with dairy-free milks of any kind, but I'm sure soy or light almond would be a fine substitute.
Serve your soup hot, with some good bread and plenty of different toppings. At our house we liked cheddar cheese and bacon, like a baked potato. At the photo studio we tried sour cream and red pepper flakes. Not a drop was wasted, to be sure!
As you can tell, dear reader, I'm definitely on the hunt for new slow-cooker recipes. Have a favorite you want to share? You can leave your recipe ideas in the comments below, and share the slow cookin' joy.
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