More than 2 million Redditors share slow-cooker recipes in the r/slowcooking subreddit, and one of their favorite things to discuss is "The Soup."
Posts containing photos of The Soup — a slow-cooked combination of tomatoes, fresh spinach, shredded chicken and cheesy tortellini — had been calling to me since I discovered the forum, so as the weather got somewhat cooler in my Florida town, I decided it was time to break out the slow cooker and see what the hype was about.
The recipe, titled "Slow Cooker Creamy Tortellini, Spinach and Chicken Soup," was uploaded to the subreddit unbeknownst to its creator, Karen Petersen, who blogs at 365 Days of Slow Cooking and Pressure Cooking. Later, when someone mentioned the recipe being highly upvoted on Reddit, Peterson asked for an explanation.
"He told me about the thread on Reddit," Petersen told TODAY Food. "I searched it out and was excited to see how many people have tried the soup and loved it."
"I think people love it so much because of the community around it," she added. "It is fun to eat food, but it's even more fun to talk about it."
Petersen said the recipe stemmed from her go-to slow-cooker tomato soup recipe. Seeking a way to make one of her favorite soups more filling and hearty, she threw in some additional ingredients.
"Who doesn't love tortellini?" Peterson asked. "The spinach adds more nutrition and color, and the chicken — you can even throw that in frozen. The results are a delicious slow-cooker soup that everyone loves."
When I gathered my ingredients for Petersen's famous soup, I was surprised by the directive to combine spices, tomato paste and diced onion, then cook them together in the microwave. But five minutes in, my microwave left me with a paste of flavorful ingredients that would go on to be the basis for The Soup.
The rest of the dish is a perfect dump-and-go slow-cooker recipe. Ingredients like chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes and chicken thighs go into the slow cooker with the microwaved paste. Then, they hang out on low for four to six hours, or on high for three to four.
After the mixture cooks, the chicken gets shredded and the remaining ingredients — half-and-half, tortellini, Parmesan cheese and spinach — get added in and cooked for about ten minutes.
When the creamy soup was finished, I served it with a salad and garlic bread, at Petersen's suggestion.
Everyone at my dinner table was blown away by how delicious it was.
The Soup will definitely be a regular dish in my home, especially in the cooler winter months. The flavorful tomato broth combined with cheese, cream and hearty shredded chicken was a pleasing combination, and at my husband's urging, I spiced my bowl up a bit with some Sriracha, which took the flavors to another level.
And the dish only gets more flavorful with time: My family ate the leftovers for a few days afterward and each time I sat down with a bowl, I was impressed at how much better it tasted than the last time.
It was a sad day when we finished the last bit of soup we'd stored in our refrigerator.
I completely get why Redditors in the slow-cooking community sing The Soup's praises, saying the recipe turned out "better than they hoped" or rating it a "10/10, did not disappoint." I might even go so far as to call it a weeknight souperhero.