Minestrone soup is one of my favorite soups out there. Not only is it packed with veggies, it is also super easy to adapt to whatever odds and ends you have in your refrigerator, and is very filling.
Many soups leave you ravenous a few hours later, but with all the lovely fiber and nutrients from the veggies, and extra staying power from beans and noodles, this hot and hearty soup keeps your tummy from growling all day long.
You can thicken it up easily by pureeing half the beans, or using mashed potatoes rather than chunks of potatoes. Or you can thin it out by doubling up on the stock, adding extra water before serving, or adding extra tomato juice.
I’ve written before how easy it is to make minestrone in ten minutes, but sometimes you want deeper flavors. That is where the slow cooker comes in.
The slow cooker is a great option because you can just “dump and go”, then come home to a delicious smelling house and a hot and ready meal. It’s also great because, unlike a boiling pot on the stove, you don’t need to constantly watch and stir. The soup won’t burn or stick to the bottom, and there’s no risk of boiling over.
And a programmable slow cooker is the best option yet, that way there is no risk of over-cooking it either! But don’t worry, if you don’t have the kind with a timer it will still work just fine.
Leave it on longer, on low rather than high, for the lowest risk of burning or over cooking. You can add the pasta noodles at the beginning, if you want a truly one-step meal and don’t mind soft pasta. If you want “al dente” slightly harder pasta, it’s best to boil it separately and add just before serving.
- ~1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen green beans
- ~1.5 cups cooked pinto beans (or any bean you prefer)
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2-3 carrots, diced
- 2-3 stalks celery, small dice
- 1/2 large white onion, diced
- 1 can tomatoes (whole, stewed, diced, etc)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
- Either: 1 cup mashed potatoes or 2-3 small potatoes, diced
- 4 cups broth, stock, or water
- 1/2 pound pasta noodles, any shape you like
Step 1: Dice up your veggies, by hand or in a food processor.
Step 2: In slow cooker, combine all ingredients (except noodles, if you are cooking them just before serving). Cook on low 6-10 hours, or on high 3-4 hours.
Step 3: When you’re ready for dinner, just boil your pasta according to the directions. I prefer shapes, such as elbow macaroni, shells, or bowties, but any noodle works. Drain, mix in the noodles, and serve!
This soup is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, but it also pairs well with salads, or a nice thick garlic bread for dipping. It is super healthy, vegetarian but meat eaters will also love it, and quite cheap! Especially if you have a garden to get some of the vegetables.
You can easily change it up, for example if you hate green beans but have some fresh zucchini, go right ahead and swap. Bell peppers go great here, and you can use fresh diced tomato or canned or even juice. Or forget the tomato altogether and just use broth, you’re in charge!