Slow cookers are meant to be used year-round. Zoodles and gluten-free meatballs lighten up this slow cooker soup that’s perfect for spring or summer.
Hamilton Beach recently featured my 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese recipe as a part of their 16 Best Spring & Summer Slow Cooker Recipes series. It got me thinking; most people put their slow cookers away once the weather warms up. Why? What changed other than the weather? In an effort to show you how I use my slow cooker year-round, I decided create 5 slow cooker recipes that are great for spring and summertime. All the recipes will be using my Hamilton Beach Programmable 6-Quart slow cooker since they inspired this idea. Recipe #1 – Slow Cooker Meatball Zoodle Soup!
What is a zoodle? A zoodle is a zucchini that has been spiralized into looking like noodles. You don’t need an expensive spiralizer; I got the SpiraLife Vegetable Spiralizer off Amazon for under $15. Did you know you can cook zoodles in your slow cooker? A while back I made Slow Cooker Zoodles with Meat Sauce. This time I’m adding them to a soup. I don’t know about you but I definitely think winter comfort food when I think slow cooker soup. Again, I’m trying to change your thinking. Replacing pasta noodles with zoodles alone makes it a much lighter meal. For the rest of the soup I pretty much just used the fresh vegetables I had in my veggie drawer. That included mushrooms, and onions. I encourage you to ‘jazz’ this up a bit and add whatever vegetables you fancy. You really can’t go wrong here. For the meatballs I happen to have some leftover quinoa so I used that instead of breadcrumbs. While I am including my meatball recipe below, you can absolutely use your favorite meatball recipe if you have another. After you form your meatballs, the key to making this recipe work in the slow cooker is cooking the meatballs beforehand. I pan-seared mine in ghee (you can also use coconut oil) for a few minutes on each side. After 10 minutes or so my meatballs were pretty much cooked all the way through. This will help the meatballs retain their shape while cooking in the broth in just a couple of hours. You can of course use ground turkey, beef, or pork in place of the ground chicken.
Chicken-Quinoa Meatballs (gluten-free)
1 lb ground chicken breast
1/4 cup COOKED quinoa
1/4 cup fresh mint
1/2 tsp: ginger, cumin, paprika, cilantro
S&P to taste
2 tsp ghee or coconut oil
Add all ground chicken, quinoa, mint, ginger, cumin, paprika, and cilantro to a medium size bowl. Mix together thoroughly with your hands. Form mixture into small 1-inch size meatballs and set aside. Heat ghee or coconut oil in a large skillet. Add meatballs and pan-sear a few minutes each side until each meatball is evenly browned.
- 1 lb chicken-quinoa meatballs
- 5-6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 zucchini, spiralized
- 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Add all ingredients to the slow cooker.
- Stir to mix well.
- Cook HIGH 1-2 hours