Brrrr! I hope all of you really enjoyed the holidays and it’s time for some winter weather to settle in. Naomi from The Pub and Grub Forum is sharing her favorite Crock Pot Minestrone Soup that might be just the change you need from all the holiday cookie and rich foods. I know I’ve made a New Year’s resolution to pick up some new healthy eating habits.

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Crock Pot Minestrone Soup – Mid-Week Mixers

crock pot minestroneFrom: MORE MAKE IT FAST, COOK IT SLOW Stephanie O’Dea

Naomi says: This recipe is a classic example of why I love Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbooks so much that she is my “go to crock pot girl”. I have every cookbook that she has written and make meals at least once a week from them. I have only found a very small handful of recipes from each book that I have said yuck to. When I do my meal planning, all of her books are front and center on my desk.

One comment that I will make in regards to these cookbooks that is a common complaint, not only from myself, but friends who are regular users of Stephanie O’Dea cookbooks, is that the actual cooking times are less than what Stephanie recommends in her cookbooks. Most of the time, this isn’t an issue, but just be aware of that ahead of time. With this soup, because it is a soup, this wasn’t an issue.

This soup was awesome and simple. I simply threw everything, but the pasta, in the slow cooker in the morning. After I came home in the evening, I added the macaroni to cook while I made the salad to go with it. It was PERFECT! It was incredibly rich and loaded with veggies. It made plenty enough that not only did we have enough for dinner, but lunches after.

I partnered this with a Caesar salad and Bread Machine Focaccia Bread. So yummy!

I made a couple of additions due to my love of tomatoes. I included a couple of cans of tomato sauce and an extra can of diced tomatoes. Plus, I felt that the broth was a bit too weak for MY likings and I thought this really made it pop. I will do my additions in red and feel free to choose whichever method preferred.

One other change that I made is that I used canned beans versus the dry beans that Stephanie called for. Using the dry beans required extra steps that I will cop to being too lazy to do. The canned worked fine and I will be using those in the recipe below. I used black beans because that is what I had in the house and I liked how small they were

On a last note: Wanna make it vegetarian? Stephanie says that vegetable can be switched out for the beef broth.

So, here we go!

8 cups beef or veggie broth
1 (14.5 oz can) diced tomatoes (2 cans)
1 can pinto, black, lima or kidney beans
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion diced (or 1 T. dried minced onion)
1 T. Italian seasoning (2 T.)
1 t. Kosher salt
1 t. coarse ground black pepper
1 or 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 (10 oz) package chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup dried pasta (I used elbow macaroni)
Parmesan cheese to pass at the table

1) In 6 qt crock pot, place first 8 to 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours.

2) Turn crock pot to HIGH, add pasta. Cook an additional 30 minutes or when pasta is fully cooked.

3) Ladle into serving bowls and pass the Parmesan.