Here’s the thing about soup: It’s not particularly hard to make, but it can just be a major time suck. Which is why so many of us find it easier to just reach for the canned stuff.
Enter the slow cooker. Minimizing prep time and practically eliminating your need to be around for the cooking process, this magical kitchen appliance is the ultimate soup sous-chef. Make the most of it with these 27 comforting and hassle-free soup recipes. All that’s left for you to do is show up for dinner.
Beef and Pork
Taco night is probably one of the best nights of the week but can be kind of a process, given the prep and assembly required. Cut down on the effort—but not on taste—by just tossing your browned meat, onions, beans, and seasonings into a slow cooker. Six hours later, your twist-on-tacos dinner is ready for your favorite toppings.
If you’ve got a leftover ham bone around from last night’s roast, don’t throw it away—stick it in the slow cooker alongside potatoes, beans, and veggies. The meat may be more of a supporting role than a main ingredient, but it totally steals the show with its fantastic flavor.
Thick with browned sausage and beans, this dish is a lot more like a stew than a soup, but with a ton of spinach, carrots, and onion, it’s basically a giant salad. Whatever you call it, it’s perfect as a one-pot meal.
This grain-free soup is still filling thanks to the lean ground beef and cauliflower. Throw in some yellow and green bell peppers (extra color = variety of nutrients) and let the Crock-Pot cook it all until both the veggies and the meat are super tender.
A Crock-Pot makes this restaurant classic a cinch to put together—just brown your meat and throw it in a slow cooker along with a bunch of vegetables, with the beans and ditalini (the small tube pasta) stirred in toward the end. You don’t even need to cook the pasta beforehand.
Five ingredients + seven hours in the slow cooker + one step of prep: You don’t need to be a mathematician to know that’s a pretty tasty equation, especially when hearty beef shanks and mushrooms are involved.
Next time a cheeseburger craving strikes, try this deconstructed version. You’ll still get the meat and the cheddar, but this recipe does away with the bun, adding in goodies like potatoes, carrots, and celery for a soup you won’t find on any fast-food menu.
All the saucy, cheesy, meaty goodness of enchiladas without the hassle of having to wrap individual tortillas? We can’t think of any reason to say no to that, especially when it comes with so much fiber and protein to boot.
Even when you take out the buttery puff pastry and nix the dairy, chicken pot pie can be pretty delicious. This dish is proof—just let the meat, veggies, and herbs hang out in a Crock-Pot for a few hours, and you’ll forget that this isn’t a “traditional” recipe.
Turn regular chicken soup into a full, well-balanced meal with the addition of wild rice. Don’t worry about cooking the grain in advance here either—that’s the slow cooker’s job. Soaked in the juices of the meat, and featuring a classic trio of carrots, onions, and celery, it’s a comfort-food meal with the nutrition factor dialed up.
Barley adds not only a ton of extra fiber, but a wonderfully nutty flavor, chewy texture, and a generally fun starchy switch-up for rice or noodles in this soup. Cooked with turkey, potatoes, and veggies, the meal is hearty without being heavy.
Seven hours in the slow cooker and a pound and a half of chopped potatoes give this gluten-free, turkey, and veggie concoction just enough thickness and natural sweetness. Subtly spiced parsley, rosemary, and thyme—we’re almost tempted to rename this the Simon and Garfunkel Soup.
As the blue-ribbon champ of comfort-food soup, chicken noodle really shouldn’t be messed with much. This one is pretty much as classic as it gets, but with just 15 minutes of prep time, it may be your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe yet.
It may look like a long ingredient list, but most of the items here are simple pantry spices you’re likely to already have. Beyond that, it’s just a matter of a few fresh veggies, two pounds of seafood, and a couple of hours in the slow cooker before you're scooping up flavorful bites of this tangy, tomato-based stew.
Sure, there’s butter, half and half, and bacon in here, but it’s all used in moderate quantities; the end result is still much lighter than your typical chowder. Don’t forget those crumbled Saltines or oyster crackers on top—what’s clam chowder without them?
While Thai food can sometimes call for a few obscure ingredients, this one keeps things straightforward without compromising on those herby, spicy flavors we love. Creamy from the coconut milk, spicy from the curry paste, fragrant with lemongrass and cilantro, and packed with protein from the tofu, it’s the full package.
Despite cooking for almost six hours, the lemon, mint, and parsley still make this Greek-inspired fish stew taste super fresh. Warm but refreshing, and light but comforting, it’s perfect in rain, shine, winter, or summer.
Don’t get scared away by the cream in this recipe—a quarter of a cup stretches out over six servings and goes a long way toward taking gumbo from plain to pretty amazing. Bell peppers add a little extra veggie action, while using frozen shrimp makes this recipe even more convenient for exceptionally busy days.
Don’t have time for a full-blown trip to NOLA? Take your taste buds there for the evening with this loaded jambalaya. A generous spoonful of Creole seasoning ties the kielbasa, chicken, shrimp, and rice together.
There isn’t a drop of dairy in this recipe, but the combination of canned pumpkin and coconut milk still adds up to a velvety, rich soup. Add a touch of maple syrup to really bring out the sweetness of the ingredients, or omit to keep things on the more savory side—either way, it’s perfection.
It may have “springtime” in its title, but there’s never a bad time of year for this classic soup. Use the veggies specified here or throw in any seasonal produce you’ve got in your kitchen. With pasta, beans, and Romano cheese in the mix, you really can’t go wrong.
If slow cooking then blending sweet potatoes and cauliflower doesn’t yield a creamy enough soup, a splash of milk and a touch of cream cheese ought to do it. Hold the bacon to keep this soup meat free—the shredded cheese itself is enough to take it over the top.
Chowder has earned itself such notoriety for being “unhealthy” that the word itself is practically enough to clog your arteries a bit. This recipe turns that reputation on its head, blending slow-cooked corn, potatoes, and coconut milk together to cut the saturated fat and upgrade the nutritional value.
Tomato basil is the little black dress of soups: You just have to have a recipe for it in your cooking arsenal, and this one is a solid choice. It’s not only insanely delicious and easy (thank you, slow cooker), it’s also healthier than a usual cream-filled version, and it’s dairy- and gluten-free.
When you’re in the mood for veggies (yep, people do crave them!) but aren’t feeling a cold salad, make this. Loaded with kale, carrots, tomatoes, and onion, then bulked up with beans and kicked up with spices, it’s a wholesome way to pack in a hefty serving of produce.
Cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian, and this vegan soup proves you can hunt for veggies too—the meaty texture is all thanks to the chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and sundried tomatoes. Toss them in a slow cooker with some additional veggies and a good pour of wine. You may never go back to the chicken version.
Lentils can take a while to boil, but with the slow cooker at your service, at least you don’t have to be around to babysit the pot. Simmered until tender along with starchy veggies and a red curry paste, then churned with an immersion blender, the end product is so silky smooth that you may even have to pinch yourself to believe there’s no milk—dairy or otherwise—in here.