I’ve been working my way through The $7 A Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook (you can check it out here) and like any cookbook, there have been definite hits and misses. Andrew and I both love slow cooker meals – the hearty flavors, easy cleanup, and delicious smells are great reasons to incorporate slow cooking into your weekly meal plan.
I’ve enjoyed reading this cookbook for a few reasons. It’s nice to see the nutrition content for each recipe, and I’ve been able to find plenty of low-calorie options. The recipes use mostly “everyday” ingredients – things you have on hand or can easily find in your grocery store – so they’re doable for everyone. One thing I’ve noticed about this and other compilations of slow cooker recipes – sometimes the authors over-complicate a recipe simply to include the slow cooker. For example, a cheesy polenta dish in this book requires two slow cookers and sauteing vegetables in a skillet – this is not making life easier for us! Selective reading culls out the recipes that simply don’t make sense, and you can get creative making other recipes work for you.
This was my approach in making the “Greek Stew over Couscous”. By the time I got done with it, it only slightly resembled the original recipe, but was a deliciously velvety autumn soup that’s hearty enough to stand alone as the main course. Don’t skip the golden raisins – I was tempted to leave them out, but ended up buying a beautiful boxful at the Mediterranean Store. They plump up in this soup and are like sweet little jewels of goodness that sort of pop in your mouth in little explosions of flavor.
adapted from Linda Larsen
1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed**
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. carrots, chopped (I used baby carrots since I had them in my fridge)
3 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas; drained and rinsed
1/2 c. golden raisins
**To easily peel/cut squash, poke a few holes in it with a fork and stick it in the microwave for five minutes. Let it cool a bit, then you’ll be able to easily halve it, scoop out the seeds, remove the skin, and cube it.
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low 9-10 hours. This is a great slow cooking option if you’re going to be out of the house longer than the typical 6-8 hours.
I ate my soup curled up with a great book. I really enjoyed The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and went on to devour The Girl Who Played With Fire. I am trying to resist the temptation to go ahead and buy the final book in the trilogy (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest) until it is released in paperback. If you like page-turning suspense wrapped around a smart mystery, this is a great series for you. Bonus – the main character (“the girl” in the titles) is a strong, independent (albeit maybe a tad crazy) woman.
There aren’t too many things more enjoyable than a warm bowl of a soup and a gripping read on a chilly fall night. Have you read any good books or cooked any delicious soups yet this fall? Share your book recommendations (and soup recipes!) in the comments!