There’s nothing like a steaming bowl of soup with pasta and vegetables — aka Minestrone — to warm both body and soul in December. It’s the most comforting winter dinner I can think of. This soup ramps the comfort level up a notch because it’s another slow cooker set-it-and-forget-it marvel. I’ve posted several slow cooker recipes in recent weeks and I’ll cut to the chase: when it’s cold I become super-efficient (read: lazy). I don’t want to stand in the kitchen in my down coat and cook. I want to dive beneath an afghan with my hungry poodles and watch an old movie on TCM.
This recipe from Skinny Taste filled my kitchen with the aromas of an Italian kitchen and tasted like it simmered all day long, because it did. Another Crock-Pot winner!
Gina of Skinny Taste likes to puree her white beans in some broth before adding them into the soup because it makes the soup thicker. It also camouflages the beans for picky eaters. We’re not picky at my house but I pureed them anyway and the soup was richer tasting for it. To puree or not to puree, that is the question.
Here’s another tip: I didn’t have any fresh rosemary on hand so I substituted two teaspoons of dried Italian Herb seasoning along with the fresh basil and parsley I can get year-round at the market.
Finally, Gina likes to cook her pasta separately and add it to each bowl of soup. I followed her suggestion and cooked mine separately but then I wimped out and added all of the cooked pasta to the finished soup. Next day the pasta had swelled (something I don’t think Gina approves of), but to my mind big fat noodles made the leftovers even better. Either way, your body will love this wonderful soup, and so will your soul.
1 (15-oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (32-oz.) container reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese rind (if you have one)
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/2 tsp. kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 cups chopped fresh (or frozen thawed) spinach
2 cups cooked small pasta, such as ditalini
Parmesan cheese, grated
Puree beans with 1 cup of the broth in a blender and set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery and garlic; sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker along with pureed beans, remaining broth, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Add rosemary, bay leaves, basil and parsley; cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
Forty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 minutes more. Remove bay leaves, rosemary sprig, Parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into 8 bowls with 1/4 cup cooked pasta in each bowl and top with extra Parmesan cheese.
Serves 8 (each serving = 1 1/2 cups)
WW SmartPoints per serving: 4