This healthy Crock Pot Tomato Soup is the recipe in which I did everything wrong, and yet the results still turned out oh-so-gloriously right.
My original plan for this Crock Pot Tomato Soup recipe was a stovetop creamy tomato soup with tortellini. I’m usually extremely detailed with my recipe testing and have my plan well organized before I ever hit the grocery store.
By 10 a.m. the morning I set out to make what would eventually turn into a simple slow cooker tomato soup, I’d managed to sleep through my alarm, scoop the coffee grounds into the water section of the coffee maker instead of the filter cup (how does this happen?), and put the gallon of milk away in the pantry instead of the refrigerator. Three Things Gone Wrong, and the cooking hadn’t even begun.
Wrong Thing #4: I forgot my grocery list at home. Rather than waste 10 minutes driving back to fetch it (Wrong Thing #5), I decided to wing it.
It should come as no surprise that I forgot a few critical items, including the tortellini. At least I remembered the half-and-half, so it could still be a creamy tomato soup. I pressed on.
About This Impromptu Tomato Soup
I started sautéing the onions, confident that a warm, steaming bowl of healthy tomato soup would turn the day around, when it occurred to me that this tomato soup might work nicely in the crock pot. I quickly scooped the onions into my slow cooker, added the canned tomatoes (thank goodness I remembered those!), then turned it on to let the magic happen.
I still liked the idea of bulking up the tomato soup with pasta, and since I’d forgotten the tortellini, I decided to add the whole wheat orzo I had in my pantry in its place.
I tossed the uncooked orzo right into the crock pot, cranked the heat to high, and prayed that the orzo would cook properly without turning into mush.
The orzo was perfect. This day had turned a corner! I tasted the Crock Pot Tomato Soup (delicious success), ladled it into bowls with fresh basil, and happily snapped the photos. I dropped a messy spoon on the floor three times, but who’s counting?
Photos finished, I headed back into the kitchen with a triumphant stride.
Then I spied the unopened container of half-and-half sitting on the counter.
I’d forgotten the “cream” in the creamy tomato soup. Wrong Thing #6.
Well, guess what? This Crock Pot Tomato Soup still tastes great without cream! Had it not been for this happy accident, I never would have known.
You can omit the half-and-half and enjoy a light slow cooker vegan tomato soup. Or, you can stir it in and enjoy a creamy tomato soup that, while still decidedly healthy (the half-and-half only adds about 20 calories per serving), has a richer vibe. Either way, the soup is delicious on its own, or alongside a not-so-healthy, but oh-so-delicious BLT grilled cheese sandwich.
Despite all that didn’t go according to plan, my hope for this Crock Pot Tomato Soup from the beginning was that it would be an easy, back-pocket recipe you can count on this fall (just like this flavorful Instant Pot Tomato Soup). In that way, it turned out even better than I’d imagined.
Crock Pot Tomato Soup Recipe Note
- One ingredient I wanted to mention that you might not already have in your pantry is hot Hungarian paprika. It’s made from dried chili peppers and tastes similar to cayenne but is less spicy. I love the depth of flavor it adds to the Crock Pot Tomato Soup (you can find it in most grocery stores or online here), but if you’d rather not seek it out, I have a few substitution suggestions in the notes section of the recipe below.
- For the Paprika Curious. Here’s more than you ever wanted to know about paprika. Along with a more practical explanation of the differences between the three main types.
Tools I used to make the Crock Pot Tomato Soup
Crock Pot Tomato Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions chopped (about 3 cups)
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 can whole plum tomatoes (28 ounces) with juices
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika*
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/3 cup whole wheat orzo
- 1/4 cup half-and-half optional, see recipe notes
- Optional for serving: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil or parsley
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium low. Add the onions and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Lightly coat a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add the sautéed onions and garlic. Top with the tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, paprika, and black pepper, then stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 3 hours, until the the tomatoes are very soft. With an immersion blender, purée the soup until smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender, carefully transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and purée in small batches.
- Stir in the orzo, then increase the heat to high. Let cook, uncovered, until the orzo is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring two or three times throughout and checking the orzo for doneness. Stir in the half-and-half, if using. Serve hot, topped with Parmesan and basil or parsley as desired.
- *Hot Hungarian paprika can be found in the spice section of many grocery stores and online here. It gives the soup a rich, light smokiness and subtle heat. If you can’t find it, try substituting smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper. You can also use only cayenne or omit it from the recipe entirely. It won’t have quite as much flavor but will still be delicious.
- If you use regular versus whole wheat orzo in the recipe, please note that your pasta cooking time may vary. I suggest checking it early.
- I do typically make this soup with the half-and-half, but on the day I shot the photos, I forgot to stir it in! It turned out to be a happy accident, as I learned the soup is still delicious without it. For a lighter soup, you can omit it. For a more creamy, comforting soup, go ahead and add it in. (It will add 80 additional calories to the whole batch, or 20 calories per serving.)
- Don't rush the onion saute! It's important that they turn golden brown and are very tender. If you add them before they are fully cooked, their raw taste will create an off flavor in the soup.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat gently in the microwave or on the stovetop.
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