Right now is the perfect time to start freezer cooking. Summer produce is at its peak—peppers are prolific, CSA boxes are brimming with tomatoes and corn, and they're practically giving away zucchini at farmers markets.
And as summer is about to end, the days get busier and shorter and it gets harder and harder to take time out for cooking a dinner every night.
Making food in bulk and freezing it lets you preserve all the flavors of summer and enjoy them in the form of effortless meals for a few more months.
Photos by Lindsey Johnson
Cooking dinner every night with a new baby has been a challenge, so I've been making soups and casseroles when I have the chance on the weekend and freezing them for later.
This Slow Cooker Veggie Tortilla Soup from our Guide to Freezer Cooking is one of my favorites for this time of year. It makes use of summer corn and peppers and since it's made in the slow cooker, it's pretty hands-off after the prep work is done and it won't heat up your kitchen when you're making it.
It can be customized with your favorite fixings after re-heating—cheese or sour cream if you eat dairy, avocado and cilantro if you're vegan.
If you're looking to get started with freezer cooking, the Oh My Veggies Guide to Freezer Cooking is the perfect way to start. Not only does it have over 30 meatless freezer-friendly meal recipes, but it will show you how to freeze food too. For more make and freeze meals, check out these recipes:
- Garden Veggie Freezer Burritos
- How to Make and Freeze Homemade Tomato Sauce
- Veggie-Loaded Chili
- Freezer-Friendly Greens & Tofu Scramble Wraps
- How to Make Beans in a Slow Cooker and Freeze Them
- Make-Ahead Cheese & Roasted Vegetable Baked Manicotti
- Make-Ahead Breakfast Quesadillas
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 medium cloves garlic minced
- ½ medium jalapeño pepper seeded and diced
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute more. Add the cooked onion to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker.
- Add the jalapeño, tomatoes, black beans, corn, broth, chili powder, cumin, coriander, bay leaf, 1?2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1?2 teaspoon black pepper to the slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 8–10 hours, or high 4-6 hours. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- To freeze, allow the soup to cool, then freeze it in a large freezer bag or airtight plastic container, omitting the tortilla strips.
- To reheat, take the soup out of the freezer and let it thaw in your refrigerator. If you’ve frozen
- the soup in a microwave-safe plastic container, you can use the thaw setting on your microwave to thaw it. Once thawed, cook soup on the stovetop on medium heat until heated through or microwave in a microwave-safe container, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until heated through. Serve with tortilla strips, avocado, sour cream, cheese, fresh cilantro and any other toppings you like.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Using a pizza cutter or large chef’s knife, cut 8 corn tortillas into several ½-inch-wide by 3-inch-long strips. Spread tortilla strips in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake, turning once, for 10-12 minutes, just until hard and crunchy. Remove from oven and let cool.