Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup has got to be the perfect end of summer soup, especially if you happen to have a garden still spitting out zucchini! Here in the Twin Cities, I’m still seeing a few on my neighbor’s plants. Me, I know better than to ever plant zucchini – the plants never stop and you’ll have zucchini out the ears, lol!
Seriously, zucchini is a wonderful thing, even if it’s prolific in the garden. And Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup is wonderful, too, and super simple to make. This is one of my Mom’s recipes. I must have been channeling her because I haven’t thought about this soup in ages and it would have been her birthday last week. She would have been 87 if we hadn’t lost her in 2000. It always, even after all this time, feels like she’s beside me when I make one of her recipes. I can almost hear her instructions and explanations of why each step is important and how to do it. My Mom was a wonderful teacher. Even when she was still trying to teach me how to make mashed potatoes when I was in my forties, lol!
About Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup:
This Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup has a bit of an Italian flair (I always up that flavor a bit more by adding in a teaspoon of my Italian Seasoning Blend) and a gorgeous beefy flavor. To tell the truth, zucchini and any squash have always been a bit of a hard sell for me, but I’ve always loved this recipe. Even back in high school, when I was a surly teenager and my Mom started making it. The zucchini flavor doesn’t stand out prominently and all the flavors blend beautifully. This is the recipe to make if you’re trying to convince someone to give zucchini a shot!
I don’t know where Mom got this recipe. She wasn’t a big slow cooker person, and neither am I. I worked long hours with a commute and by the time I got home, just about everything I tried to make in the slow cooker would be mush. But not Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup. The beauty of this recipe is it is great cooked for a few hours on high but can stand up to a long slow cook, 8 to 12 hours. And so it has always stayed in my recipe book.
To round out this meal, serve Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup with some nice crusty bread (I love it with my easy overnight No Knead Crusty Bread, especially now that fall is upon us) or maybe some type of garlicky bread. I started making these Parmesan Crusted Crostini recently (they’re to die for) but our family always served this soup with what I call Parmesan Toast Garlic Bread. My favorite way to serve Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup, even though it’s very soup like rather than like a stew, is with a good, thick polenta. A bite of the soup with a bite of polenta is heavenly! Teaser: Instant Pot Polenta Recipe, coming up soon.
Making Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup:
You can use any type of beef that stews well in this soup, something with a bit of fat and marbling like the chuck is going to be your best bet. It’s really not that particular, though, so if something else, like the round, is on sale, that’s fine, too. Leaner cuts like the round can get a bit dry with the long cook.
There really is hardly anything to making this soup – keep the skins on the zucchini and watch the sizes of your cuts so everything comes out just right. Make sure to leave the beef on the bottom of the slow cooker when you give it a stir, and that’s it. Easy peasy!
Saving Money on Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup:
Any color of pepper will work in this recipe, and by the time it’s finished, the color will be faded and hardly recognizable anyway. Choose the least expensive, which is always going to be the green bells. I just happened to have a yellow one in the fridge, so I used it. Buy your peppers on sale. They keep very well so pick up enough to use for your current week’s recipes and into the next week, too.
As far as the beef, this recipe isn’t that particular so buy what’s on sale. I do like the chuck best, and if it’s on sale, I generally find it in larger sizes than the two pounds called for in this recipe. If that’s the case, I find another recipe to use the remainder in, most likely stew, and cut the rest into the right sized chunks, label them and freeze them until I’m ready for to make it – I love having a leg up on a meal.
Canned tomatoes are pretty much a staple at my house. I always buy the whole tomatoes in the large can and break them down in the blender if I need crushed or tomato sauce. If I only need a small can, I toss half of the tomatoes into the freeezer and then I have a bag to thaw out in the microwave the next time I need a small can. I pick up canned tomatoes on sale and stock up then. If there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, come to my house and we’ll dine on canned tomatoes. Ummm, maybe on second thought, don’t, lol! I might need them all.
Slow Cooker Zucchini Beef Soup
- 2 pounds stew beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, chopped
- about 4 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt (use less if broth is salty)
- 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- good pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 15 to 16 ounce can whole tomatoes and juices, tomatoes crushed
- the equivalent of 2 cans beef broth, about 3 1/2 cups
- Parmesan shavings for garnish, if desired
Add all ingredients except Parmesan shavings to slow cooker in order given. Gently stir to distribute seasonings without disturbing the beef on the bottom.
Cover and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low from 10 to 12 hours. Garnish with parmesan when serving.
Note: If desired, heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet and saute beef until browned.