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Avoiding BPA: Adventures With Your Slow Cooker

Read Alex’s response to questions about lead in slow cookers.

You’ve heard about BPA in canned foods, which is linked to breast cancer, early puberty in girls, diabetes, obesity, and a host of other problems. But how much BPA really gets into your body from eating canned food?

Well, a recent study found that people who ate one can of soup every day for five days increased the levels of BPA in their bodies by 1000% over people who ate freshly made soup for the same five days.

Yikes! We know canned soup is convenient – for a quick lunch, or to add to a casserole, it’s hard to beat. But until canned food manufacturers get it together to replace the BPA in linings, we ought to look elsewhere.

So this month we hope you will join us on a slow cooker adventure – learning from each other how to make fresh soups that are tasty, healthy, budget-friendly and best of all EASY! We’ll start you off with some recipes, and we’d like you to share your favorite recipe below! We’ll compile the recipes to share with our members at the end of the month.

Here are some slow cooker tips, for those of you who are new to slow cooking (or dusting the cobwebs off an old pot!)

Split Pea and Ham Soup

Look for organic ingredients when possible

•    2 cups dried split peas
•    8 cups water
•    2 cups diced ham
•    2 potatoes, chopped
•    2 ribs celery, chopped
•    2 carrots, sliced
•    1 onion, diced
•    2 cloves garlic, minced
•    2 bay leaves

1. In a slow cooker, combine the peas, water, ham, carrot, celery, potatoes, bay leaves, garlic and onion.
2. Cover, and cook on High for 4 to 5 hours. Remove bay leaves before ladling into bowls.
(Note – for a vegetarian option, omit the ham and replace the water with 8 cups vegetable stock.)

Chicken Noodle Soup

Look for organic ingredients when possible

•    8 cup(s) water
•    4 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices
•    4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch slices
•    1 small onion, chopped
•    2 bay leaves
•    1/2 teaspoon(s) dried thyme
•    Salt
•    Ground black pepper
•    2 -3 pounds chicken pieces (legs, thighs, breast etc)
•    3 cup(s) egg noodles, uncooked

1. In 4 1/2- to 6-quart slow-cooker bowl, combine water, carrots, celery, onion, bay leaves, thyme, 4 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken pieces on top of vegetables. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook as manufacturer directs on low setting 8 to 10 hours or on high setting 4 to 5 hours.
2. Transfer chicken to cutting board. Discard bay leaves. Add noodles to slow-cooker bowl; cover with lid and cook (on low or high) 20 minutes.
3. While noodles cook, remove and discard skin, fat, and bones from chicken; shred meat.
4. Skim fat from soup and discard. Return chicken to soup to serve.

Now it’s your turn! What’s your favorite recipe?

25 Responses

  1. Katherine

    Chicken Noodle Soup is my favorite. It’s so fast, simple and most of all, healthy. I make this quite often and it’s great for taking in my lunch also. I know I’m eating healthy and it’s so inexpensive.

  2. A Lake

    What about the concern of lead, cadmium, and arsenic in slow cookers. I’ve read that the home lead test kits are not accurate and there doesn’t seem to be a list of independently tested slow cookers. Also, I have found todays slow cookers to emit toxic odors when they are in use.

  3. We have linked your site to ours because we believe in what you do. Our site is These Are Great.
    Here is an organic chicken pot pie that I made last night.

    2 organic chicken breasts
    3 carrots chopped and cooked
    1 potato boiled
    1/4 cup peas, cooked
    3 cups of organic broth
    1/2 Cup flour
    1/2 Tsp, sea salt
    1 onion chopped
    5 Tbs. butter
    1 pie crust

    Bake the chicken until done in center at 375. Cut into small pieces
    Melt butter in pot, add onion and cook until clear.
    Add Flour, mix, add broth, let it become thick.
    Season with salt,

    Add cut up chicken, carrots, peas, cut up potato. Blend
    Put into glass pie plate, cover with pie crust.
    Cut slits into the crust for the air.

    Bake in 350 oven until crust becomes brown.

    Delicious and good for you!

  4. Elizabeth

    Put olive oil and garlic in a soup pot. Saute, adding an onion or leaks and 3 carrots. Add 1 square of veggie (or meat) bullion, and a can of white beans. (Do canned beans contain BPA too?) Add 4 cups of water, and simmer for about an hour. Then add a large bunch of kale and a cup of peas, and simmer for 20 minutes more. Sprinkle a grated flavorful hard white cheese on top (such as Pecorino Romano), and enjoy!

    Women’s Voices for the Earth Research experts – are canned beans full of BPAs too?

  5. Skip the canned and septic pak broths and make your own on the stove top or in a slow cooker. I save the bones from pastured chicken in a container in the freezer until I have a bunch, then just fill the pot or slow cooker crock with the bones, add 1/4 c cider vinegar, and fill the pot or crock with water. Simmer 24 hours (slow cooker on low,) add more water if needed during simmering, then turn off, cool slightly, and strain solids.

    Freeze in serving-size jars (leave an inch of head space to allow for expansion.) Homemade stock is delicious, much richer-flavored than store-bought, very nutritious and mineral dense (the vinegar helps leach minerals from the bones. This stock costs nothing if you use bones you would have otherwise thrown away. You can also use the backs and necks from whole chickens. After straining, remove the meat from the bones to use in soup or for enchiladas or salads.

    If you don’t like the idea of saving bones from other chicken dishes, you can do the same thing with a whole or cut up chicken, you’ll just have more meat to use for other dishes.

    The stock can be used as a base for many soup recipes, or use it to cook rice, make a sauce, or for any other recipe calling for chicken broth.

    I love to just add some greens like spinach, chard, or kale, a pinch of sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and a sliced green onion for a quick, nourishing, satisfying, economical lunch. You could also add dried seaweed for even more nutrition. If you like, after the veggies are tender and your soup has been removed from the heat, stir in a little organic miso paste to taste (1 tsp to 1 tbsp per serving,) for a delicious miso soup with some good, healthy probiotics. Yum!

    You can do the same thing with beef bones, but for best flavor and nutrient content, let them simmer an extra day.

  6. p.s. I share A. Lake’s concern about heavy metals in slow cookers. There are a few with ‘safe’ crocks, but you have to look for them, as they’re few and far between.

    I still prefer the stove top and a stock pot for making stocks and soups. Just do it on the weekend when you can keep an eye on it. Soups often taste better anyway if they sit for a day or two in the fridge. Just reheat before serving.

    You can also make soup in the oven with an oven-safe stock pot or Dutch Oven. Set the temp at 300 or 325 degrees, and cook for 3-4 hours or until done.

  7. Liselotte

    for 3-4

    2 Nile spice Black bean soup (dried soup mix in paper containers)
    1 cup dried organic black beans- soak for 3 hours or longer
    To taste- Cumin -optional, Tamari or salt, Tabasco or red pepper.

    Slow cook pre-soaked beans in plenty of water for about an hour or less depending upon how hydrated they were when you put them in the pot. Fine if there is water left with the beans when you are done.

    Add 2 Nile Spice soups and more water to the pot with beans and cook on low for another 10 minutes while stirring. Add more water to get smooth consistency and adjust spicing. The Nile Spice soup mix thickens the soup, intensifies the flavor and establish a good spice base. I like to use wheat free Tamari because it enhances the black bean taste and Tabasco because it gives the soup a kick. Cumin goes well with black beans as well.

    Serve with diced raw onions, grated cheddar cheese and bottle of beer. Really tasty and good in all seasons.

  8. Juanette

    Spinach Cauliflower Cheese Soup

    Really, when I make this my quantities are more like “some,” so use these as a guideline and have at it.

    • Chicken Broth Couple quarts – I use the powdered
    meatless broth mix from Frontier

    • Frozen Chopped Spinach 10 oz pkg

    • Onion – Chopped 1 medium

    • Celery – chopped ½ bunch

    • Cauliflower ½ head

    Put all ingredients in a stock pot and cook together at least until vegetables are soft. You could sauté onion & celery first, but I don’t usually. Though may give it a try next time I make the soup.

    When ready to serve, grate some swiss cheese. You can either put it in the bowl and then put the soup in, or put it in on top. I like to add seasoned croutons.

  9. Bettina

    I agree with others. I’m not a crockpot cooking fan. What about recipes for creamy vegetable soups combining stovetop cooking and an immersion blender?


    250gm brown or green lentils
    2 garlic cloves, smashed 2 bay leaves
    2 tblsp. Olive oil
    100gm thick bacon or pancetta, diced
    1 onion, finely chopped
    2 carrots, diced. 2 celery stalks, finely sliced
    400gm tin chopped tomatoes
    400gm tin chickpeas, drained
    S&P, 2 tblsp parsley, roughly chopped

    Rinse lentils; bring to boil w 1.5 litre cold water, garlic & bay leaves. Cook 30 min. or almost tender, skimming occasionally.
    Heat oil in large saucepan, sauté onion, bacon, carrot & celery 10 min. Add tomatoes and their juice and the lentils and water. Simmer 20 min. until soupy.
    (or longer!) Add chickpeas, season, simmer further 10 min., or longer, adding extra water if necessary.
    Stir in parsley before serving.

  11. Caroline Skinner

    I made a nice soup recently with this: water (or broth or stock) plus some white basmati rice (or any rice including brown), a small amount of orange lentils and cubed delictata winter squash and a large yellow onion, cut up. Also I added soy sauce, olive oil, dill and black pepper. A bit of coconut oil would have been fine too.

    After cooking in stainless steel Revere-ware type pot with lid on low heat for about 45 minutes, I added chopped celery, cooked five more minutes, then added chopped French kale (very dark, leafy greens). All produce organic! I only cooked about 5 more minutes, then turned off heat and let cool on stove top for 30 minutes, then put in fridge for use next day. When I reheated a small portion to serve, I added a splash of milk to make a light cream soup. I also froze some portions of the chilled soup for later use. I find I can freeze in glass as long as the lid is only very loose until frozen.

  12. Lisa

    we want to find a new slow cooker that is not! Made in China. And reading above blog now need arsenic, lead, etc. Free! Any one have a resource to share? thanks

  13. Lisa,

    Try ordering a clay pot crockpot…much healthier and works great and was pretty affordable and is easy to clean! I have one from Vita Clay. Google it. Hope that helps!

  14. Derek Goldman

    Venison IPA chili:

    Soak 3 cups of beans overnight, drain, rinse, drain.
    Brown a pound of ground venison in a skillet (avoid the toxic, non-stick, teflon ones!). Remove the meat, then sautee an onion and a bell pepper.
    Add the beans, deer meat, peppers and onions to the crock pot. pour 1 BPA-free can of whole tomatoes and 1 can of tomato sauce into the pot, enough to cover everything and then some. Add 4-6 tsp of chili powder, some black pepper, and 4 cloves of chopped garlic. Finally add 6-8 oz of your favorite IPA. Drink the rest of the beer. Mix the pot thoroughly. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until beans are soft.
    I just made this last week and it was delicious.

  15. Judith Wine

    I love this idea of homemade soup and needed a boost to start thinking about it. I live on Hilton Head Island, SC so we don’t have cold winters so i forget about soup. And, i just love it.
    Have to find a new stock pot – slow cookers are so full of metals. thanks, you gals are wonderful.

  16. Mary

    I remember my mom saving the water left from steaming vegetables to use in soup stocks — she cut off the top of milk cartons, cleaned them, they fit nicely in the freezer — just keep adding the veggie water over time to the carton until its full, and you’ve got a great base for starting soup. I’ve started doing this, and love it! Also, when I cook a chicken or turkey, I’ll go ahead and make stock from the leftover carcass, and freeze the stock in the milk carton. Then when I want to make soup, I’ve got my stock at hand. A hearty bowl of soup with a nice piece of ww bread, is a wonderful evening meal.

  17. Tara B

    Hearty Tomato, Sausage and Bean Soup

    If desired, garnish with shavings of Parmesan cheese or drizzle with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil.

    Preparation time: 15 minutes.
    Cooking time: 25 minutes.
    This recipe makes 10 servings
    4 tsp (18 mL) vegetable oil
    1 onion, finely chopped
    1 carrot, finely chopped
    1 rib celery, finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 hot green chili peppers, (optional)
    1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
    1/4 tsp (1 mL) pepper
    2 (8 oz/250 g total) Italian sausages, casings removed
    2 cans (28 oz/796 mL each) whole tomatoes
    1 can (19 oz/540 mL) navy beans, drained and rinsed
    1 cup (250 mL) sodium-reduced chickenbroth
    1 cup (250 mL) water
    1/3 cup (75 mL) chopped fresh oregano
    1 tsp (5 mL) granulated sugar
    In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat; cook onion, carrot, celery, garlic, chili pepper (if using), salt and pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.

    Increase heat to medium-high; add sausages and sauté for 5 minutes, breaking up with spoon.

    Stir in tomatoes, breaking up with spoon. Add beans, chicken broth, water, oregano and sugar; Stir in tomatoes, breaking up with spoon. Add beans, chicken broth, water, oregano and sugar; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard hot pepper.

  18. D E Schraff

    Serves 6| Hands-On Time: 05m | Total Time: 5hr 30m

    6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
    4 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
    4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    1 medium onion, halved
    2 garlic cloves, smashed
    2 bay leaves
    kosher salt and black pepper
    1/2 cup small pasta (such as stellette or alphabet)
    1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    crackers, for serving


    In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place the chicken, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, bay leaves, 6 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
    Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours (the low setting will make total cooking time 8 ½ hours).
    Twenty minutes before serving, transfer the chicken to a bowl. Remove and discard the onion and bay leaves. If the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Add the pasta to the slow cooker, cover, and cook until tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
    Meanwhile, shred the chicken. When the pasta is cooked, stir the chicken into the soup along with the parsley. Serve with the crackers, if desired.

  19. Mid Lawrence

    Easy Vegetable Soup can be made by saving and freezing those numerous “dabs” of leftover vegetable such as peas, beans, carrots, mix vegetables, etc. from frozen vegetable served at other meals. When you have a cup or two accumulated, add a bit of beef, cubed potato or some rice or macaroni(leftover or otherwise). Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a bay leaf if you like. Heat and simmer all day in the crock pot for delicious (and never the same) soup. In our family, we laughingly call it garbage soup. A more inviting name might be just “Homemade Vegetable Soup”.

  20. Homemade Turkey Slow Cooker Soup
    In a large slow I place one turkey leg and thigh, two onions, 3 to 5 whole, peeled garlic, 1 to 2 peeled chopped carrots, 2 diced celery stalks. Cover with plenty of water.
    this can be cooked overnight on high, the next day you can remove the turkey leg and thigh from the slow cooker, and let cool before remove the meat from the bone. To the slow cooker you can add 6 fresh chopped tomatoes, a couple cups of pasta or cooked rice and maybe some frozen mixed vegetable, what ever you want to try in your turkey soup. Add the diced turkey meat to your slow cooker and let cook until lunch or supper time. Footnote: If you are cooking the soup for 2 to 4 more hours you may want to leave the cooked pasta or rice out until just before your ready to serve it, this will prevent the pasta or rice from being bloated.

  21. Caroline

    I love reading recipes and I love trying the ones, I think I might like, especially the quick and easy prep ones.

  22. Judith Wine

    I use a piece of lamb with the small round bone in it for stock. It is so tasty, then i add a piece of Kombu, maybe tiny green peas, chard, or spinach, whatever i have in the fridge. Barley or lentils are good too. This is so simple and yes, it is better the next day for sure.

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