About 35 years ago, Americans cleared off space on their kitchen counters to make room for crock pots. The pots, modeled after electric bean cookers, were made of ceramic and promoted with the slogan, “cooks all day while the cook’s away.”
The idea behind crock pots was that cooks could start their cooking early in the day, and while they were busy doing other things, the evening meal would simmer slowly in the pot. The new appliance could not have come at a better time.
Home cooks were coming out of the doldrums and looking for more interesting ways to cook food. With the help of Julia Child, Americans learned that inexpensive cuts of meat could be transformed into delectable dishes if they were seasoned properly and cooked slowly. We admit we came onto the crock pot scene late, but once we plugged one in and got the hang of using it, the slow cooker has gotten a culinary workout in our kitchen.
Although crock pots can cook anything from meat loaf to carrot cake, one of our favorite ways to use it is for making soup. We have always loved the combination of white beans and greens but never seemed to be able to coordinate soaking beans overnight and making them into soup the next day.
With the slow cooker, we created a hearty cannellini bean and chard soup recipe that calls for soaking and cooking the beans in one step. One of the nicest things about having a slow cooker is coming home at the end of the day and getting a whiff of homemade soup, steaming hot and ready to eat.
—Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.