Home cooks across Michigan love the great apples available in our state, perfect for cooking or eating on their own. Today, I’m guest posting for the Michigan Apples blog, sharing a recipe featuring Gala apples.
Slow cookers are known for one delicious service they provide: being able to fill the pot with ingredients, go to work for eight hours, and come home to a ready-to-serve meal. Unless . . . you work from home. And then, you fill the pot with ingredients, stay at home with it for eight hours as it smells progressively more and more amazing, and then text your husband to come home now so that you can eat right when the eight hour mark hits.
This Slow Cooker Carrot & Apple Soup kind of tortured me as it’s mouthwatering smells filled my home as I worked. The longer it cooked, the better it smelled. The combination of carrots, Michigan Gala apples, chicken stock and warming spices like cumin, cayenne and turmeric make this soup a savory and subtly sweet flavor explosion.
The Za’atar Croutons are totally optional, but totally encouraged. No, you can’t cook them in the slow cooker, but you CAN make them in less than 20 minutes as the soup finishes it’s cook time. Use any crusty bread that you have on hand (I used ciabatta), toss it with olive oil and za’atar, and bake until crispy.
Za’atar is a spice and seed blend popular in the Middle East. You can make it yourself or buy a pre-made blend. The blend I purchased is simply a mixture of crushed sumac, thyme leaves, salt and sesame seeds. If you can’t find or make za’atar, feel free to season your croutons with just sesame seeds and salt.
Be sure to try this recipe while Michigan Gala apples are at their peak. Their mellow sweetness and crisp bite make them a great ingredient for savory recipes! To find out more about Michigan Apples, be sure to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.
Slow Cooker Carrot & Apple Soup with Za'atar Croutons
For the Slow Cooker Carrot & Apple Soup:
- 2 pounds carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 Michigan Gala apples, peeled, cored and diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus additional as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the Za'atar Croutons:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups cubed crusty bread (I used ciabatta bread, cut into 1-inch cubes)
- 2 teaspoons za'atar
- Plain yogurt
- Microgreens or chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- Make the Slow Cooker Carrot & Apple Soup: In slow cooker, stir together carrots, apples, garlic, bay leaf, onion, butter, cumin, salt, black pepper, turmeric and cayenne. Add stock and stir until well combined. Cover and cook on high 4 hours or on low 8 hours.
- Remove bay leaf and puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth (or, transfer soup to blender in batches and puree). Return soup to slow cooker bowl and stir in vinegar. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
- Just before the end of soup cooking time, make the Za'atar Crouons: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On rimmed baking pan, toss oil, bread cubes and za'atar until well combined. Transfer to oven and bake 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp, stirring once halfway through.
- Serve soup garnished with croutons, yogurt, and microgreens or parsley, if desired.
Disclosure: This was a paid guest post written by me on behalf of the Michigan Apple Committee. Posts like this help me pay for the costs associated with this blog (groceries…lots of groceries), and help support me as I pursue a career in recipe development and food photography. All opinions are 100% my own.