If there is one piece of kitchen technology I cannot fathom living without, it's the crockpot - or slow cooker. This beautiful masterpiece is one I'm continually reaching for all winter season long. I cannot imagine my life without it, and if you haven't yet added a crockpot to your repertoire, I highly recommend penciling it into your birthday or Christmas wishlist. The culinary possibilities are endless, and it is the perfect tool when creating dishes for make ahead meals.
This isn't a love letter or ode to the crockpot, promise. But, life sure is easier because of it. Case in point: I woke up at 6:30AM, groggily meandered to my kitchen, whipped out a cutting board only to chop and drop all the ingredients needed for my loaded sweet potato soup. On this particular day, my plans included driving to the barn (two hours one direction) to ride and photograph a few sales horses. Barrett was traveling home from a business trip in New Mexico, and I wholeheartedly knew neither of us would not have an ounce of motivation to cook come 6:30PM. The only solution? You guessed it. Crockpot.
Loaded sweet potato soup is my spin on a classic. I love, and I mean love, loaded baked potato soup however find myself unable to finish a bowl due to the copious amounts of dairy ingredients found inside. While I am not lactose intolerant, I do have a sensitivity to dairy. In an effort to lighten things up, I coined up this particular recipe and according to Barrett, it now needs to be a weekly dinner within my household. Score.
I whipped up this entire pot of soup for roughly $15.00. You can yield 8-10 servings which equals about $1.50 per bowl. The leftovers are freezer friendly, simply pour into a freezer safe container and store for future comfort food cravings. The best part... again? My loaded sweet potato soup is completely adjustable to your flavor preferences. I'll talk about that later. For now, here's the good good.
Here's what you'll need:
2 large sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
3 carrots peeled and chopped
3 stocks of celery, sliced in half, chopped
4 strips bacon already cooked and chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons bouillon or 1 crushed up chicken bouillon cube
4 cups chicken stock
Splash of whole milk (use what you have on hand)
1 cup shredded cheese - I like triple cheddar, but this is optional
Salt and pepper
Blender or immersion blender
1) Peel and chop your sweet potatoes into bite sized chunks. Throw them into the bottom of the crockpot bowl.
2) Chop your garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Drop into the bowl.
3) Add your seasonings, and your bouillon. I prefer using the Better Than Bouillon. Why? I find it healthier and packed with even more flavor than traditional bouillon cubes. I'm using the vegetarian version here... Mostly because I thought I grabbed the chicken type in the store but I was wrong. Whoops. I recommend the vegetarian, chicken and beef options to have on hand because they really elevate recipes that call for bouillon. Plus, they last forever. A little goes a long way.
4) Throw in your cooked baaaaaaaacon. I had leftovers from the night before... pro tip!
5) Pour in 4 cups of chicken stock - use vegetable stock if you so desire - and stir the entire thing together.
6) Cover and set your crockpot to low... and forget about it. Well, kinda sorta. You'll let the pot of soup cook for 10-12 hours.
12 hours and a memory card full of pretty horse photos from
Oldenbroek-Tabor Sporthorses' sale list later...
You'll be greeted by the aroma of a glorious concoction within your crockpot waiting for its final steps.
7) Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and pour in a few splashes of whole milk. Eyeball the amount. You can substitute for any type of milk you have on hand.
8) Next, you'll want to puree the soup. You can do this by either using an immersion blender right in the crockpot, or remove the soup in batches and blend in a standing blender. HOWEVER. If you are using a countertop blender, be EXTREMELY CAREFUL. You must allow the steam to escape or else you will have soup all over your kitchen... and unwanted burns. I highly recommend looking into an immersion blender. This particular model was a hand-me-down from my mom. It's nearly twenty years old, so major proof that the investment will last.
9) Last but not least, stir in the shredded cheese and stir until melted. If you want to be extra decadent, you can throw in a little cream cheese. Mmmm. However, if you prefer the lighter side of life, a little cheese is all you need. Ladle into a bowl and top with sliced green onions if you so desire.
For this recipe, you can substitute "regular" potatoes for sweet potatoes, or even chop up an entire head of cauliflower and use that as the base instead. If you're taking the cauliflower approach, roast the cauliflower florets first then throw them into the crockpot for extra ooommmpphhh. Be as generous or as reserved with the dairy ingredients, whatever floats your boat!