18 September 2012

Crockpot Minestrone Soup

Today was the perfect beginning-of-fall day. It didn't get above 70, there were blue skies with white puffy clouds, a nice breeze, and fall smells lingering in the air. This time of year is, hands down, my all time favorite. If nothing else, I get to wear sweaters, and who doesn't love sweaters?!

Normally (at least, as of this semester), Shana stays in Indy on Tuesday nights as a way to break up her weeks and avoid at least one morning of super early rising. However, tomorrow night is parent-teacher conference night, so she's staying tomorrow instead. That meant dinner had to planned for tonight. However, on Tuesday nights I'm on campus until 8:30 because I'm singing in a Gregorian Chant ensemble this semester (I'm learning SO many new things!). Thus, we planned a crockpot dinner.

I made this soup one night a few weeks ago and enjoyed it, but since Shana hadn't tried it yet I was hesitant to post it here. Just because I like it doesn't mean it's good. :) When I walked in the door tonight, Shana basically said "Hi! The soup was AWESOME!" Confirmation of deliciousness = new blog post for you all.


Crockpot Minestrone Soup
This soup is based heavily on the "All-Day Minestrone" recipe from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker (p. 45).
Ingredients
1 T. olive oil (optional)
2 small yellow onions, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
4 ounces green beans (fresh or frozen)
1, 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (see Helpful Hints)
1, 15 oz. can tomato sauce (unseasoned)
1 medium zucchini or summer squash, in big half moons
6 c. veggie stock (I use half "chicken" and half vegetable)
1/2 c. raw or 1 c. cooked ditalini (or other small pasta shape)
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
dash paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Pour the oil in your crockpot and add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic, sprinkle with a bit of salt. Turn crockpot on HIGH and cover while you assemble everything else.
2. Add all other veggies, beans, tomato sauce, broth, and seasonings. Turn crockpot to LOW and cover, cook for 7-8 hours.
3. If you opt for raw pasta, add it in about 1 hour before serving. If not, add the cooked pasta just before serving.

Helpful Hints
  • We love the garbanzo beans in this soup! However, sometimes we want more protein, so we add a 15 oz. can of red kidney beans. Kidney beans have a different texture than garbanzo beans, so it's a nice addition. If you add them, there is no need to add extra broth. 
  • If you use fresh green beans, trim the ends and cut into 1 inch pieces. I use frozen for this because they are easy to keep on hand and come pre-cut in the size needed for this recipe. 
  • I tried to freeze this soup the last time I made and it actually worked out pretty well. Pasta doesn't generally freeze amazingly, but this worked out. The pasta did absorb a bit more liquid and was a bit mushier after freezing, but there's not enough in there to really change the overall feel of the dish. 
  • The original recipe calls for 1, 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes. Shana doesn't do tomato chunks, so that's out for us, but feel free to sub if you want. My version of the soup has a thicker broth due to the tomato sauce, but I'm sure it's good the other way, too. 
  • If you use raw pasta, you may need to add a bit more water before you serve (or before you dish up the leftovers). 
  • This is a soy-free dinner if you use a soy-free broth. In addition, if you omit the pasta or use gluten-free pasta, this is also a gluten-free meal. 

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