These 21 beautiful slow cooker soups and stews make cooking with a plug-in appliance taste super sophisticated—which is a good thing, because when spoon weather rolls around (and then sticks around for a long time), we have to satisfy the craving again and again. Tomato soup is great and all, especially when paired with a perfect grilled cheese sandwich, but even that gets old after a while. Enter: the Crock-Pot. It’s convenient for sure, but just because you toss a bunch of ingredients together, press “cook,” and head to work doesn’t mean you’ll have a meal to be proud of at the end of the day. A little finesse is still a good idea, and so we present these fantastic and easy slow cooker soups to get you through the last stretch of winter.
They’re great one-pot, make-ahead meals that are even better the next day…and the next…and the next, if you still have some left over. So this idea works equally well for weeknight dinners, when you have a time crunch, and on weekends, when all you want to do is hibernate and scroll through Netflix or watch “Harry Potter” again. We understand. We recommend you get cooking—or rather, let your Crock-Pot do most of the cooking for you.
This classic Chinese dish flavors beef brisket with ginger, star anise, garlic, and chu hou, a paste made of soybeans. You can use steamed rice or rice noodles along with a good broth, which is best if you have your own, but it will still be good if you get store-bought broth. With this stew comes the low-and-slow beauty of making tough meat tender in a slow cooker. Get our Chinese Brisket and Turnip Stew recipe.
This staple in Ethiopian cooking is a heady mix that usually includes garlic, fenugreek, allspice, red pepper, ginger, chiles, coriander, cinnamon, and black pepper. If you can’t find it, use a mixture of 4 tablespoons garam masala, 1 tablespoon hot paprika, 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek and 1 teaspoon salt in this recipe. Get the Ethiopian-Spiced Chicken Stew recipe.
This stew is wonderful for so many reasons. Let’s count the ways. One, it utilizes the root vegetables available locally in the winter season (well, for those in the Northern hemisphere). Two, the spices—saffron, cayenne, ginger, cinnamon—are so pungent, they make parsnips and potatoes exciting. And three, those spices are medicine for your immune system, a great thing during cold and flu season. Get our Slow Cooker Root Vegetable Stew recipe.
Chelsea has it going on with this healthy, rich, filling, sweet, spicy, and savory soup. Plus, you’ll be a part of the ancient grain game, by using quinoa, a nice change from rice or pasta. Get the Sweet Potato, Chicken, & Quinoa Soup recipe.
Leave out the chicken, and you still have a hearty, protein-filled soup spiced with curry, Sriracha, and cinnamon. With this soup, you really can toss it in a pot and leave it to cook for eight to 10 hours while you work. Get the Moroccan Lentil Soup recipe.
Creamy and smooth, this Aloo Gobi recipe even re-purposes your leftover mashed potatoes. It’s a soup after our own hearts (located in the belly, of course). Get the Indian Cauliflower and Potato Soup (Aloo Gobi) recipe.
What could be easier? You load diced butternut squash, a bell pepper, sliced carrots, and an onion in the Crock Pot, add vegetable broth, maple syrup, and a pinch of cumin, and let it simmer away for four hours. Purée it with an immersion bender (or tip it in the blender), and you’re left with something smooth, rich, and long-simmered, perfect for sprinkling with our Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas. Get our Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Red Pepper Soup recipe.
9. Pork Ramen
“Here is a simplified, yet still delicious, [ramen] that boasts plenty of succulent braised pork,” writes cookbook author Kim Laidlaw. “Serve the soup with your favorite ramen embellishments. I like to top my bowl with a soft-boiled egg and some baby spinach.” Get Kim Laidlaw’s Slow Cooker Pork Ramen recipe.
10. Chicken Soup
Throw a whole chicken in the Crock Pot with a few aromatic herbs and veggies. Let it simmer away until the chicken falls apart in a rich, concentrated broth. Shred the meat and add it back to the slow cooker, then stir in cooked egg noodles, or steamed white or wild rice. Done. Get our Slow Cooker Chicken Soup recipe.
11. Split Pea Soup
When split peas break down into a thick, creamy soup, it’s pretty much the best thing about cooking, a patient transformation of raw ingredients. Use a slow cooker, and the transformation is slower and arguably more dramatic. Here. Green split peas cook with carrot, celery, onion, and a smoked ham bone to yield an epically comforting soup. Get our Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup recipe.
Congee (rice porridge) is a Chinese breakfast favorite. Here, thanks to pulled chicken and kernels of sweet corn, it becomes a complete meal. Top it with chopped scallions, Sriracha, and a drizzle of sesame oil for pizazz. Get the Slow Cooker Chicken and Corn Congee recipe.
With this Crock Pot version of crab and corn chowder, you can re-create sunnier days at the shore with little more than your slow cooker insert. To beef it up, go crazy with more mix-ins, like diced potatoes, red bell pepper, and even bacon. Get the Crab and Corn Chowder recipe.
Enjoy ramen the not-so-instant way by simmering up a batch of slow-cooked shio broth. Not only will you wind up with a full-bodied broth, you’ll have found a way to make the most of your leftover chicken bones. Get the Shio Ramen with Chili Oil recipe.
15. Sopa de Ajo
Sopa de ajo, or garlic soup, is a peasant-style potage that hails from Spain’s Castile-León region. Its intoxicating aroma is sure to warm your kitchen and ward off all signs of cold or flu. We recommend throwing pieces of stale bread in the slow cooker for extra oomph. Get the Sopa de Ajo recipe.
16. Beef Pho
Yes, good Vietnamese noodle soup can be coaxed out of a slow cooker. Don’t skip toasting the spices and browning the aromatics—they’re essential to the synthesis of a complex beef broth, and you’ll be enjoying rice noodles in a delicate beef broth for days to come. Get the Beef Pho recipe.
Use this versatile recipe to make chicken and sausage gumbo with okra and tomatoes from the farmers’ market in season, or canned tomatoes and frozen okra when the weather turns cold. If it’s Mardi Gras, all the better! (Try our Slow Cooker Shrimp Gumbo recipe too.) Get the Chicken and Sausage Gumbo recipe.
Have the foresight to prep tom kha gai, or Thai chicken and coconut soup, and you won’t have to worry about what restaurant to call for takeout. Get the Thai Chicken and Coconut Soup recipe.
Ancient grains and slow cookers aren’t often seen together, but this recipe for farro and cannellini bean soup proves they can conjoin to create a soup that’s healthy and substantive. Get the Farro and Cannellini Bean Soup recipe.
The Spanish word birria means rubbish, but this Jalisco-style stew is anything but, thanks to the addition of guajillo chiles, cumin, and Mexican oregano. The recipe calls for lamb but would work just as well with beef or, if you can get your hands on one, goat. Get the Birria recipe.
Looking for more slow cooker saviors? Check out these easy Crock-Pot pasta recipes, see how to make apple butter in your slow cooker, and get Crock-Pot drink recipes to keep you warm and cozy.
Related video: Slow Cooker Chicken Adobo
Header image by Chowhound.