I've been debating with myself about getting a slow cooker. I have concerns about food being too mushy, but when I asked on twitter, rather a lot of people felt quite strongly that slow cookers are very good and if you are careful, you can avoid mush.
I mostly want to get one because if we continue to live here, and therefore I continue to nanny, I don't really want to be cooking when I get home not much shy of nine pm when it's freezing cold in the middle of winter. When you have an almost unheatable flat, standing at the cooker is quite pleasant, but doing so that late and not eating 'till close to ten isn't(at least not on a regular basis). It will result is us living on pizzas from the supermarket, and we all know they don't taste as good as they look. They taste of cardboard and disappointment.
Since I started think about it, I have been occasionally Pinning slow cooker recipes. This one, for Betty Crocker's Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup, with it's picture reminiscent of macaroni cheese, is one of those ones that could either be ace or really, really bad. Pushed on by my cold addled, carb-obsessed brain I decided to find out. My current lack of slow cooker wasn't going to get in the way.
The original recipe calls for various ingredients from Betty Crocker frozen packs. I substituted fresh, and added more fluid (I assume the frozen ones have been at least partly cooked). I also substituted a leek for half a stick of celery and half an onion. And added bacon to the soup base. Extra bacon is never a bad thing.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup (without a slow cooker)
(adapted from the recipe by Betty Crocker)
Serves 4, or makes two lots of dinner for two people
1 large leek, diced
2 rashers of bacon, diced
675g potatoes, diced (i didn't peel them, but if you are not keen on skin, do)
950ml chicken stock
180g white mature cheddar
2/3 cup milk (I used a mug. I am not that precise clearly)
2tbsp plain flour
3 rashers bacon, chopped small
4 small potatoes diced.
pinch of salt and pepper
pepper to taste
- if you are doing toppings, pre-heat oven to 180c
- In a big soup pot, put a little oil, leeks and the two rashers of bacon, and cook till bacon is cooked and leeks have softened
- add all of potatoes (inc ones for topping), give a quick swish round, and add stock and water.
- bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins with the lid on
- remove 20 of your potato cubes, which should now be par boiled.
- stick lid back on pot and continue to boil
- pat your cubes dry, shake in a little flour, salt and pepper
- put a little oil on a baking tray(is used a small cake pan) and chuck on coated potatoes
- cook in the oven for 25 mins, turning occasionally
- at this point, remove tray and add your chopped up bacon for toppings and return to oven
- Remove when bacon bits are crisp (was 15 mins for me, but keep an eye out) and potatoes are golden
- stir your flour into milk and add to the soup
- cook till soup thickens a bit, about 20 mins
- chuck in cheese, stir till it melts
- serve with a quarter of toppings sprinkled on each bowl (if you are keeping two portions back, keep in fridge and stick potatoes/bacon under the grill for a bit when you re-heat your soup)
This maybe isn't soup to have every day. It's filled with carbs and cheese, so not the healthiest option. But when you are filled with the cold, it's tipping it down and windy outside and you spent the whole day at the Fringe the day before, walking around and getting soaked, it's very comforting. The bacon and cheese make it a bit like macaroni cheese, but the saltiness of the stock and the texture of the potatoes make it a bit like boulangere potatoes too. I was worried it would be a bit too thick and cheesy, but the additional stock balances out both the thickness and the cheesiness. It definitely came out on the ace side of could be good or bad.
I have actually decided to buy a slow cooker. Sainsbury's have them for £20. It's not an awful lot to lose if I end up not using it.