My freezer is PACKED.
So today I made soup! Last weekend I scored a ton of cheap ground beef, and prepared and froze a bunch of it, including browning 3 lbs with garlic and onion. I've always shied away from crockpot recipes that require you to brown your meat before putting it in the crockpot - I mean, if I have to cook it twice, its not really making anything easier, is it? But by cooking up a big batch of meat and sticking it in the freezer, it makes it a cinch. I can handle trying some of these recipes and still have the convenience of a quick one-pot meal. Yay!
I also happened to have 6 cups of beef broth lurking in the depths of my overfull freezer. And digging through my cupboards yielded a small bit of pearl barley waiting patiently for a purpose.
So last night I pulled 1 lb of the pre-cooked ground beef and all 6 cups of the frozen broth out, and put them in the fridge to defrost overnight. This morning, they were still pretty much frozen. No worries, I started dumping everything in my trusty 4-quart crock pot, and quickly realized that it was too small. Soooo, I brought out the 6-quart crock pot and dumped everything in there. Aside from having twice as many dishes to wash, it all worked out ok :) I added some frozen carrot coins, chopped celery, chopped zucchini, and diced tomatoes from the freezer, the barley, some salt, pepper, and italian seasoning. I turned it on low and went to work. When I got home 10 hours later, yummy delicious soup was waiting for me! Hooray for crockpots.
I probably would have added some more broth if I'd had any. The soup came out pretty thick, another 2 to 4 cups of broth would have made it much more soup-like. Or some tomato juice probably would have worked too. The other option would be to use 1/2 lb of ground beef mixture instead of the full pound. But it tasted just fine and was very filling. We have several servings for leftovers.
For those of you who like your instructions slightly more detailed than "put a bunch of stuff in a crockpot and go to work all day", here is an actual recipe version (the quantities are estimated, feel free to use whatever you have on hand).
Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1/2 an onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 8-10 cups beef broth
- 1/4 cup pearl barley (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup sliced carrot
- 1/2 cup sliced celery
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
- 2 cups diced tomato (fresh or frozen), or 1 can diced tomato (with liquid)
- 2 tsp italian seasoning
- salt & pepper to taste
If you try this, or have any suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear what you think!
Check out more of Crockpot Wednesday over at Dining with Debbie