I own a ton of cookbooks, but if I had to choose the one I use the most often in my kitchen, it's Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson. This is the book that has notes scrawled all over the pages and food spatters on the most frequently used recipes. If you're a vegetarian and you own a slow cooker, you should really buy this book!
The thing I love about it is that the recipes are mostly unfussy. You might have to saute some ingredients before putting them in the crockpot, but other than that, things are pretty uncomplicated, which is what I like in a cookbook. I want realistic, everyday meals, you know? Something I can use, not just something with lots of pretty pictures of recipes that are such a pain to assemble, I will probably never make them.
When I was working full-time and going to library school full-time (yeah, that happened), I worked my way through a good half of the recipes in this cookbook. They were easy and I could let them cook in the crockpot all day and dinner would be ready when we got home. And without fail, they were all winners. The best part was that there were always leftovers, so we could have them for dinner the next day or freeze them. The only thing easier than a slow cooker meal is a leftover meal! Or stopping at Chipotle on the way home from work. (Yeah, that happened too.)
This recipe is adapted from a kale and lentil soup that's in Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker. It's not super fancy, it's not a show-stopper, but it's a delicious, hearty soup for a chilly fall evening. I replaced the kale with chard and used a lot more than the original recipe calls for because we love Swiss chard and if I was buying a whole bunch anyway, why not use it? I even threw in the stems, so nothing goes to waste. I also added some Yukon potatoes to make this even more filling, but sweet potatoes or butternut squash would probably be just as tasty.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 celery stalk sliced
- 1 large carrot sliced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard leaves torn into bite-sized pieces and stems sliced
- 1 c. dried brown lentils picked over and rinsed
- 4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 c. vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and stems from Swiss chard. Cover and cook until softened, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cooked vegetable mixture, lentils, potatoes, broth, and soy sauce in a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir to combine, cover, and cook on low heat for 8 hours.
- Just before soup is finished cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place reserved chard leaves in boiling water and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and stir into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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