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Comfort food made easy. Try these three fabulous recipes and enjoy a no-fuss evening curled up with a warm bowl of soup.

Are you looking to include more home-cooked meals in your diet? For those squeezed between work, volunteer activities, and family obligations, it can be exhausting to try to prepare something wholesome at the end of the day.

But the slow cooker gives control back to the home cook, as meals can be prepared in the morning or even the night before and simmer all day. Try these three recipes to provide a delicious smell as you come into the house -- and a no-fuss evening, curled up with a warm bowl of soup.

Apres-ski lentil-sausage soup
This hearty dish is perfect after a day spent on the slopes or cross-country skiing. To up the indulgence factor, pair with fresh black olive or rosemary foccacia bread.

6-8 Italian spiced sausages (hot or mild according to your preference)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1 cup water
2/3 cup lentils
2 potatoes, washed and diced into small (1/4-1/2 inch) pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 small bag mini-carrots or 4-5 regular carrots cut into 1/2 inch chunks*
2 tablespoons oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika

Layer potatoes and onion on bottom of crock pot, then place sausages, carrots, and lentils into the pot. Sprinkle with herbs and then pour diced tomatoes, broth, and water over the top. Cook on low 8 hours. Before serving, remove sausages and slice into 1/4 inch pieces; return to pot and stir. Serves 4-6, depending on how vigorous the skiing was.

* Variation: replace with 2 cups diced butternut squash, fresh or frozen

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by:
Jennifer Gruden