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Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup

Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup

I know, I know, Groundhog Day, yadda yadda yadda. Look, I don’t care how much longer winter lasts, as long as I can make this soup a few more times before it gets too warm.

My Winter Vegetable Soup offers a hint of sweetness from butternut squash and sherry, a nice streak of green from the escarole, and the crunchy-chewy pop of wheatberries. When made with vegetable broth it’s vegetarian; skip the Parmesan rind and it’s vegan. No added fat, either, so it’s uber-healthy (though it doesn’t taste that way).

If all that’s not enough to intrigue you, this oughta seal the deal: This recipe requires almost no work, and absolutely no attention. Toss it in the slow cooker in the morning, do your thing all day, and come home to a hearty bowl of wintry soup.

Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Soup
Serves 6-8

3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds (it’s fine to use the pre-peeled chunks from the produce section)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 head escarole, cut into ribbons (kale would work here, too)
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, diced
3/4 cup wheatberries (or farro or barley)
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup dry sherry
One 2-inch Parmesan rind, optional
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Salt & pepper

  1. Combine everything in the insert of your slow cooker. The amount of salt needed will depend on your broth—start at 1/2 teaspoon.
  2. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or HIGH for 3-4 hours. Stir in the chickpeas and let them warm through while you set the table (shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes). Taste, and adjust seasoning.
  3. Remove Parmesan rind, if you used one, and spread it on crusty bread as the chef’s treat!

MAKE BABY FOOD: Generally speaking, soups puree nicely—use mostly solids, with enough of the broth to thin it. The sherry used has alcohol, yes. But it’s just 1/2 cup for the entire recipe and with the long simmering time, at least 95% of the alcohol will have cooked off. I would’ve given this soup to Harry without hesitation, but that’s a personal decision. If you have any concerns at all, substitute apple juice!

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Abigail

    sounds like a great, easy recipe. thanks. would collard greens or swiss chard work instead of the escarole?

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Absolutely, Abigail! Just about any hardy green would work–it just needs to be substantial enough to hold up during all those hours of simmering.

  2. Liz

    Hi, Debbie – looks like a great recipe but in particular thanks for the link to the question about residual alcohol levels in food. Not something that would *worry* me per se – I also like my alcohol on the side 😉 – but it’s the sort of thing I like to be able to tell people if they ask!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Yeah, Liz, I’m with you. I use alcohol in a lot of my recipes, and before I fed them to Harry I did a little research. No baby’s getting drunk off something that’s been in the slow cooker for hours!

  3. Kelly Kautz

    Yum! I’ve been trying to branch out my vegetable selection, and this looks like a nice way to do it. I also LOVE wheat berries. Can’t wait to try this on a cold Sunday afternoon 🙂

  4. Amy

    This sounds amazing, can’t wait to try. I am slow cooker obsessed these days, having gotten a new one with a timer for the holidays. Has made cooking much easier on the weekends. Ive also taken cues from your blog and don’t worry so much if my kids won’t eat the main dish I make, they can eat the vegs, fruit and noodles and are fine!

  5. This sounds perfect!

    I bought some wheat berries out of the bulk bin at Sprouts last year and I have had no idea what to do with them. Until now that is.

    As a vegetarian finding recipes for my slow cooker is difficult so I am especially pleased with this!

  6. Amy

    Update-this turned out great. I chopped and assembled ingredients in slow cooker one night after kids went to bed. The house smelled wonderful in the morning and I had a lovely bowl of soup for breakfast. I froze several portions to take to work for lunch, may have eaten more of it now if it were cooler out (this week in the 80s in FL!). Easy to make and it has great flavor. First time I’ve cooked with butternut squash!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Smart, Amy, doing it overnight! Love the idea of having this for breakfast–it would be such a nice way to start the day.

  7. Victoria

    My husband does most of our cooking (in fact he’s in the kitchen making a king cake from scratch as I type), so I was really excited to see this recipe which looked easy and healthy. I made some intentional changes: collards instead of escarole, decreased squash, increased carrots, added some parsnip, added dried dill weed, and added bay leaves, and some inadvertent changes: forgot beans and sherry.

    For someone who thinks of all soups/ stews as starting with a mead or rue base, I was very pleasantly surprised by how yummy this is. My only issue is that the wheat berries exploded and are turning a little mushy in the fridge. Overcooked? I had it on low for 4 hours, then wanted to speed it up a little so turned it on high for another 1.5 hours. Still yummy, though. Thanks!

    1. Debbie Koenig

      Hmm, exploded wheatberries! My first thought was, maybe they’re not actually wheatberries–it’s pretty hard to cook those suckers until they explode! Is there any chance they were mislabeled? Or I wonder if they were par-cooked or something.

      1. Victoria

        Hmmm. I know absolutely nothing about using wheatberries; am I to gather the “cooks in 15 minutes” designation on the front of the package was an indication of the wheatberry equivalent of quick cooking oats?

        1. Debbie Koenig

          What?! I can’t even imagine what you’ve got, sister. Wheatberries typically take 45 minutes or more to cook–they’re a whole grain. Mind taking a photo of the label & sending it to me at debbie at debbiekoenig dot com?

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