Slow cookin’

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season wrapping up and cold weather finally setting in, my family has gravitated toward the slow cooking process. There’s nothing like a good soup when you’re tired of eating fast food or have little time in between the end of your work day and dinner. Many recipes can be converted to slow cooker options while, conversely, crock recipes can often be adapted to the stove top. At Sutton Central we love making soup dinners because there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Leftover soup will last up to three days in the refrigerator.

Converting recipes from stovetop to slow cooker can require some experimentation but generally I’ve found that most ventures will be successful with a few adjustments. Since there is no evaporation in a closed slow cooker, adjusting the amount of liquid in your recipe may be necessary. If a stovetop recipe calls for six to eight cups of water, try starting with five cups in the crock. If the recipe doesn’t call for liquid, add 1/2 cup water or broth. For stews and soups, put the veggies on the bottom and sides of your slow cooker, placing the meat on top. For stews I like to brown the meat in a skillet first. In general, 1 hour of simmering on the range or baking at 350 degrees F in the oven is equal to 6 to 8 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high in a slow cooker.

If you’re like me and you see a slow cooker recipe that looks scrumptious but it’s too late in the day to accomplish, you can often convert it to the stovetop. Recipes with ground beef work well but many meat cuts really need the longer cooking time and the slow cooking process of the crock to be successful. You’ll want to plan on simmering the stovetop soup for about an hour to really appreciate the taste that you would get from the crock process.

Beef & Barley Soup


1 lb. steak tips, cubed

1 c. potatoes, peeled, diced

1 c. onion, chopped

1 c. carrots, diced about 1/4-inch thick

1 c. celery stalk, diced about 1/4-inch thick

1 (15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce

4 c. beef broth

1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. black pepper

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2 bay leaves

1/2 c. barley, dried


In a slow cooker add all ingredients, except bay leaves. Stir until combined. Drop bay leaves on top.

Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, until meat is cooked through and vegetables are tender or on low for 8 to 10 hours. About 30 minutes before soup is done, add barley. Cook until barley is tender.

Smokey 15-Bean Soup with Sausage

Plan ahead to make this soup as it requires an overnight soak and 8 or more hours in the slow cooker.


1 (20 oz.) package of Hurst’s HamBeens 15-Bean Soup

8 c. water

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced into quarter-inch rounds

2 tsp. liquid smoke

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. dried minced onion

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 (6-oz.) can of tomato paste

1 (14.5-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

Juice of one lemon

2 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper


Open package of beans and remove the seasoning packet to save for later use. Pour beans into a large bowl and cover completely with water. Let soak overnight. In the morning, drain off all the water and place beans in the slow cooker. Add in 8 cups of fresh water. Add in onion, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, smoked paprika and chili powder. Cover and cook on low for about 12 to 14 hours or on high for about 8 hours, or until beans are soft and tender. Add in the HamBeen seasoning packet, sausage, tomato paste, tomatoes, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high for another 30 minutes to let the flavors blend and the sausage heat through.

Super Simple Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is so simple you can throw it in at the last minute before you head to work. You can substitute canned Southwest Corn for the frozen corn to add a kick.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 (32-oz.) containers chicken stock

1 (14-oz.) can enchilada sauce

1 (12-oz.) bag frozen corn

1 (14-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed


In a 6-qt. slow cooker, combine chicken, chicken stock and enchilada sauce. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours, adding corn and black beans the last 30 minutes. Remove chicken, shred and return to slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Cheddar, Ale and Bratwurst Soup


1 c. yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 c. potatoes, diced

1/2 c. carrot, shredded and chopped

1/4 tsp. ground pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dry mustard

10 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded

1 Tbsp. butter

16 oz. bratwurst

4 c. chicken broth

12 oz. ale

1 c. heavy cream

1/2 c. flour


To your slow cooker, add chopped onion, minced garlic, shredded and chopped carrots and potatoes. Sprinkle with seasonings and shredded cheese. Pour in chicken broth and beer. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high, or 8 on low.

Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat melt butter. Add whole bratwurst, searing on each side. Remove and slice into 1/2-inch discs. Return to skillet to sear on each side. Remove and slice each disc in half. Carefully add to slow cooker. Cover and continue cooking.

In your last 30 minutes of cooking, remove 1/2 cup liquid to a large bowl. To it add flour and heavy cream. Stir well. Return to slow cooker giving a good stir and replacing cover to finish cooking.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup Recipe


1 bag (32 oz.) frozen southern-style diced hash brown potatoes, thawed

1/2 c. frozen chopped onion, thawed

1 medium stalk celery, diced

1 (32-oz.) container chicken broth

1 c. water

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 c. milk

1 (8-oz.) bag shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 c. fried and crumbled bacon

4 medium green onions


In a 4-quart slow cooker, mix potatoes, onion, celery, broth and water. Cover; cook on low heat setting 6 to 8 hours. In a small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to high. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions. Sprinkle with pepper if desired.

Slow Cooker Stout Red Beans and Rice


1 lb. small red beans (or red kidney beans) dry

24 oz. stout or porter

4 c. chicken broth

1 hickory smoked ham hock

1 red onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp. sriracha

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. raw chicken bratwurst, sliced

1 green pepper, chopped

4 strips bacon, sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Cooked rice for serving


Add red beans, porter, chicken broth, ham hock, onion, garlic and sriracha to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for eight hours. Once the beans are finished cooking, heat the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Cook the brats, green peppers and bacon until meat has been cooked through. Stir the brats, bacon and peppers with the beans, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.