This healthy Crock Pot Hamburger Soup is the exact sort of recipe that I can imagine picky childhood Erin being very excited about eating and Erin’s mom (mother to three picky eaters) being very excited about cooking.
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A rich, hearty slow cooker soup made with ground meat (I used turkey to lighten it up, though you can certainly stick with tradition and use lean ground beef instead, or try ground chicken), kid-friendly vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and peas, and a few subtle but substantial flavor-boosters, this recipe is a happy meeting ground where both little ones and grownups will find solace and satisfaction.
Crock Pot Hamburger Soup: Kid Appeal
- The flavor is mild without being bland.
- The opportunity to top with cheese is readily available and encouraged. Let’s be honest—we adults love this too.
- The very name of the soup itself. Hamburger soup! That just sounds fun to eat.
Crock Pot Hamburger Soup: Grown-Up Practicality
- Hands-free slow cooking. Once the meat is browned (a step you can complete a day ahead if you like), the crock pot does the rest of the work.
- Even novice chefs can make this simple Crock Pot Hamburger Soup with confidence.
- Feeds a crowd. Just like my Homemade Hamburger Helper, this hamburger soup yields a generous quantity and is ultra freezer friendly. What you don’t eat tonight, you can stow away for leftovers later in the week or portion and freeze for fast future dinners.
- Bang for your buck. Serving for serving, this is an incredibly affordable meal.
- All-in-one. Because this hamburger soup leans heavy on the vegetables and offers lean protein too, you can serve it without any sides—though I can say from experience that a nice hunk of bread is not remiss.
- Feel free to swap the vegetables I have suggested here for ones you have on hand. Similar to this Crockpot Vegetable Beef Soup, you can make this hamburger soup with cabbage or green beans, or do a hamburger potato soup in place of the sweet potatoes.
- Speed options. In a hurry? Omit a few of the fresh veggies and supplement this hamburger soup with frozen vegetables stirred in right at the end. Need a stovetop version? Check out stovetop Hamburger Soup.
How to Make the BEST Crock Pot Hamburger Soup Recipe Tips
A few small changes that demand little of your time contribute to a more satisfying final result.
- To give this hamburger soup excellent base flavor, the recipe starts by browning the meat with the onion, celery, and garlic. Browning the beef (or turkey) as a first step is essential, as it won’t brown in the slow cooker. The simple step of adding the onion along with the meat gives it a chance to mellow and caramelize, and your soup will taste the better for it. (And since we use lean ground turkey, there’s no excess grease to drain!)
- Tomato paste. You simply cannot beat the intensity of this inexpensive, workhorse ingredient.
- Diced tomatoes and green chiles. Why use plain diced tomatoes when you can use this more flavorful option instead?
- Worcestershire sauce. Big-time savory flavor packed into a small bottle, it adds complexity and depth.
- Sweet potatoes. Russet potatoes or Yukon gold potatoes are standard in slow cooker hamburger soup recipes, but I like sweet potatoes for some extra vitamins and nutrients.
Stretching the Recipe Further
In addition to being easy to vary with a variety of different vegetables, you can add servings of whole grains directly to the soup.
- Hamburger Soup with Rice. Separately cook 1 cup of long grain brown rice. Stir it in with the peas at the end. (Unlike this Crock Pot Chicken and Rice Soup, I do not recommend adding the uncooked rice to the soup at the beginning, as the liquid ratios will be off.)
- Hamburger Soup with Pasta. Separately cook 1 cup of any “small” pasta, such as macaroni, then stir it in at the end.
For even more veggies, try making this Crock Pot Hamburger Soup with V8 juice. This was our friend Mary’s idea, and I think it’s pretty genius, especially if you struggle to get your family to eat veggies.
- If you’d like to make the hamburger soup with V8, in the final step, instead of using the remaining 1 cup of broth to thin the soup further, use V8.
Serving Slow Cooker Hamburger Soup
- Because this recipe leans heavy on the veggies, I found it plenty satisfying to enjoy on its own (with the aforementioned hunk of bread).
- If you are adding rice or pasta, you have your whole grains covered, so you can skip the bread if you like (or not).
- I highly recommend topping the soup with shredded cheese. Because this soup is healthy and lean, the cheese provides nice richness. Shredded cheddar, colby jack, pepper jack, or Parm would all be delish.
- You can garnish this crockpot hamburger soup recipe with gusto! Crumbled bacon, fresh parsley or basil, or even a dollop of sour cream makes for a delicious hamburger vegetable soup.
Crock Pot Hamburger Soup
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey or lean ground beef
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 3 stalks celery diced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper plus additional to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper plus additional to taste
- 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles in their juices
- 4 carrots scrubbed and diced
- 1 medium sweet potato scrubbed and 1/2-inch diced (or swap 1 medium Yukon gold potato)
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 green bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3–4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 1/2 cups peas fresh or frozen (or frozen mixed vegetables of choice)
- 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar, colby jack, or pepper jack cheese
- Chopped green onions or parsley optional
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Once hot but not smoking, add the turkey, onion, and celery. Cook, breaking the meat into small pieces, until it is no longer pink and fully cooked through, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and cayenne and cook for 30 seconds.
- Transfer the meat to a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add the tomatoes, carrots, sweet potato, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and Worcestershire. Pour in 3 cups of the beef broth. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours, until the sweet potato and carrots are tender.
- Stir in the peas. If the soup is thicker than you would like, add additional broth until you reach your desired consistency. Re-cover the slow cooker and let cook 5 additional minutes to warm through and allow the flavors to marry. Serve hot with cheese and chopped green onions, if using.
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