The slow cooker is the best soup pot for slow cooking soups
The slow cooker is my granny's favourite stew pot for making slow cooking chinese soups. This type of cooking can be also called simmering soups or long hour soup.
My slow cooker
This kind of cooking can be a long tedious affair because it takes at least an hour and requires constant attention. The soup may boil over or dry out. It needs frequent stirring as heavier ingredients may settle and stick to the bottom of the pot.
Argh, the prospect of having to scrap and scrub. No way! Who has the time to fuss over a pot of soup constantly! It is the digital age and there are so many other things to do!
That is why, thank God for modern inventions that save tremendous effort by automating many things that used to be manual.
What's the difference between a slow cooker and a crockpot?
They mean the same thing.
Crockpot is the name of a brand. It is so famous that many people use the brand name to refer to the real thing. Just like panadol and paracetamol.
The crock pot is a wonderful invention. It consists of:
- a heavy glazed earthern pot
- an outer casing attached with an electrical heating element
- a heavy glass cover
The earthern pot fit snugly into the outer casing. The heat comes from the heating element, which can be kept constant and low, the cooking temperature can also be kept at slightly below boiling point, the ideal temperature for slow cooking soups.
At below boiling point, the soup doesn't boil over and therefore do not need constant watching. The chinese soups can be kept under cover. This means there is minimum evaporation and little risk of the chinese soup drying up (unless it has been left for a ridiculously long period of time).
The glass cover of the crockpot allows checking in without lifting the cover and affecting the cooking temperature (for me, it also allow me to peek at what my granny had made for dinner).
Since it is not necessary to watch the soup constantly, there's time to do other things. Take a shower, fetch the kids, watch TV, iron clothes, vacuum the floor, read a book, exercise...etc.
The pot above is one of the pots we used to have. The inner pot is an unglazed earthern pot. All our previous ones have glazed earthern pots and we thought we should try one without. I also liked the design of the exterior casing. There is even a little chinese poem at the side.
The cooking function is just as good but it takes more effort to clean the inner pot. We will probably revert to a glazed one after this one.
Buying a crockpot?Don't have a crockpot and thinking of getting one? See if you can find a programmable slow cooker with a timer and a keep warm setting. My family has gone through a couple ... yes, we are heavy users. I mentioned earlier that you didn't have to check on the soups constantly. The problem is sometimes I forget that I even had it on. Also, when my granny prepare soups early, she will leave it on LOW using it as a KEEP WARM setting. This means by the time I get home for dinner, the soups can be overcooked. So, when I'm drinking soups that are slightly overcooked, I wish mine had a timer and can keep warm.
Many slow cookers I come across at the shops in Singapore are not programmable. Their target market must be full-time homemakers.
Hamilton beach has a series of programmable slow cooker called Set N Forget. I really like their 33956 5 quart slow cooker.
Caring for your pot
- Before using your slow cooker, wash the pot in mild soapy water. Rinse and dry it thoroughly. Wipe the outside as it will come into contact with the heating element.
- Use oven mittens when removing the inner pot after use. It could still be hot. Do not plunge it into cold water immediately. Fill it with warm water then add detergent and wash.
- If there are pieces of food stuck to the pot, fill the pot with warm water and soak it for a while before brushing with a soft brush.
- Wipe the outer casing with a towel or wet wipe.
- The slow cooker is not dishwasher-safe.
Soup recipes using the slow cooker
Before you start, you may like to take a look at these slow cooker tips.