Monday, June 6, 2011

Tuesday: Slow Cooked Soup...Minestrone Style

Pin It Now! It's going to be one of those days when you know you just won't feel like cooking when you get home (from work, errands, whatever..).  So pull out the slow cooker and let dinner cook itself!  This delicious soup is packed with veggies and flavor.  You can save even more time by buying pre-chopped veggies.  Then all that's left for you to do when you get home is cook the noodles (unless you did the night before) and throw them into the pot with the zucchini and spinach!  Soup's on!    


  • 3-5 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth (depending on how "soupy" you want it to turn out)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I find I like to spend a little more and get the imported kind...such as San Maranzo.  The flavor is worth it.)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini or navy) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (you can leave them un-peeled if you want the extra nutrients.)
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • (*Time saver:  some stores, like Trade Joes, sell a cup of pre-chopped celery/onion/carrot that is perfect for this)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • (you can also add some fresh oregano and basil for extra flavor)
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta, cooked to just al'dente (or any other small pasta noodle)...(see tip below about cooking the pasta)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen spinach, defrosted, and squeeze out excess liquid (if using frozen)
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (or both!)
  • Basil sprigs, garnish, optional
*You could also amp this up a bit by adding sausage (hot or sweet)...though, that voids the vegetarian aspect of the dish; however, my husband would approve of the added meat!  :)


In a slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, garlic, bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
*tip for the noodles:  When making a pasta for soups, you under cook it by about a minute, then strain and rinse it, and afterwards put it into a big bowl of ice water (mainly a bowl of ice with water to cover. Once it has completely cooled and is very cold, you can add it to the soup, after the soup comes down from a boil. Removing the extra starches and chilling it to  stop the cooking will make a huge difference in the texture of the pasta.  This will also prevent the pasta from absorbing a lot of the liquid in the soup and you won't need as much broth.
Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Remove bay leaves and season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top. Garnish with basil, if desired.

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