As I've talked about before, in my kitchen, rice cookers are not just for rice anymore; there are so many things you can do with one. I like to make soup in mine, especially in our often-chilly Canadian fall and winter. So here are five awesome soups which are easily prepared in a rice cooker.
We don't have any dietary restrictions in Microtopia, but in the spirit of inclusiveness, I have provided some (albeit limited) allergen and dietary restriction information (and substitutions where possible) for making these vegetarian/vegan or gluten/dairy-free.
Laksa is a traditional Malaysian curry soup with a delicate yet decadent coconut milk base. I originally found this recipe in the Stone Soup Cookbook (which I love dearly; there are SO many delicious recipes with five or fewer ingredients—it can be downloaded here), and then altered it based on the ingredients we had available. It is scrumptious.
This is one of the very first things I ever made in a rice cooker, and it really set the bar for future rice cooker recipes. This dairy-free recipe can be easily made vegetarian/vegan by using tofu or soy protein, and gluten-free by using rice noodles.
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1/2 cup frozen mixed veggies
- 1 small onion, cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces (you can also use tofu, beef, pork, shrimp, or just add more veggies )
- 1/2 package fresh miki noodles or Singapore noodles, or 1 square of prepackaged instant udon noodles
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 bunch fresh basil
Heat the rice cooker pot, add the sesame oil, stir the red curry paste into the sesame oil, then add the garlic and ginger, sautéing until fragrant. Add the meat and frozen veggies and cook until the meat is no longer pink. Add the coconut milk, boiling water, and noodles, and simmer until the noodles are cooked. Garnish with fresh basil.
2. Turkish Red Lentil Soup
One of our favorite restaurants has really good Turkish-style red lentil soup (known as Kirmizi Mercimek Çorbasi in Turkish). I wanted to see if I could make it at home, so I picked what sounded good out of about four different recipes and scaled it down so I could make it in the rice cooker.
If you are dairy-free, vegan, or vegetarian, you can substitute oil for the butter and vegetable stock for the chicken stock and it will still turn out savory and delicious. It can also be made wheat-/gluten-free by omitting the flour or using a different thickening agent such as cornstarch. This is a low-fat, high-protein soup, perfect for a cold winter day, and the lemon juice garnish will have you begging for more. It is a hearty meal when served with pita bread, naan, or your favorite flatbread.
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2 tablespoons butter or oil
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 small/medium onion, diced finely
- 1 medium carrot, diced finely
- 1 small potato (around the size of a tennis ball), diced finely
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chicken stock concentrate
- 6 cups water
- Salt, pepper, lemon juice, and paprika to taste
Melt the butter in the rice cooker pot and then add the garlic and flour, cooking for a minute or two. Add the onion, carrot, and potato, and sauté for a few minutes, then add the chicken stock concentrate, lentils, and water. Cover the pot and let everything simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are falling apart. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, puree the soup until it reaches a smooth, creamy texture. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and a few squirts of lemon juice.
3. Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe actually won me a $25 gift card for Best Cheap Recipe from my college's Student Union last year. You can take your time making this soup and add your favorite veggies, but when I'm in a hurry I just throw everything into the rice cooker and cook it all at once, except the spinach and noodles which I add close to the end. Sorry, vegetarians/vegans, this one is strictly for the omnivores. I don't know if egg noodles are gluten-free, but I'm sure someone will let me know.
Pour the olive oil into the rice cooker pot, add the onion, carrot, mixed veggies, and garlic, and sauté for a few minutes until the onions start to turn translucent. Add the chicken, broth, savory, salt and pepper and stir, then replace the lid. Start boiling the water in an electric kettle; when it boils, pour the water into the rice cooker pot, add the spinach and noodles, stir, and replace the lid. The soup is ready when the noodles are done!
4. Potato-Leek Soup
This is one of my favorite soups to make. It's so quick and easy, and absolutely delicious. It can be made vegetarian/vegan by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and is kosher as well as dairy- and gluten-free.
- 1 leek (white and light green parts only), rinsed of all sand and diced
- 1 carrot, sliced into thin coins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced (I use the stuff in a tube)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 small (pear-sized) potatoes, diced
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- Parsley and paprika for garnish
Sauté the leek and carrot in the olive oil with garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme until the leek and carrots are soft. Add the potatoes and liquid, simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Blend until smooth, garnish with parsley and paprika.
5. Cream of Broccoli Soup
We get fresh produce every month from the Halton Fresh Food Box program, which helps low-income folks obtain fresh vegetables and fruit so they can eat healthier. It's a terrific program: You pay $8, $13, or $17 a month based on what size box you want and you get a ton of stuff, the majority of which is locally grown. The newsletter also has recipes tailored to what is offered in the box, and I decided to try this one. It's gluten-free and can be vegan/vegetarian/dairy-free with the use of oil and vegetable stock.
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 1/2 cups broccoli crowns, chopped small
- 2-3 tennis-ball-size potatoes, diced
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon summer savory
- Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onion, garlic, broccoli, and potatoes in the rice cooker pot with butter, until onions become translucent, then add the broth, milk, savory, salt, and pepper. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft, then puree with an immersion or stand blender and pour back into the pot.
Happy cooking, and bon appétit. If you try these recipes, please let me know how they work out — I'd love to hear about it in the comments.