My family loves soup. We eat a lot of it in the winter and it's not that rare in the summer either. Soup and bread make a great meal. Although I have no Italian roots to get in touch with, I do love minestrone.
My favorite recipe is one derived from the Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I love my crockpot, but I'm also really bad about remember to start dinner when I'm cleaning up after breakfast, so one thing I really like about this recipe is that it is also adaptable to quickly cooking on the stove top, when you remember dinner at 5:30.
I'll note changes to make to get this from the chopping stage to the table quickly throughout the recipe.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
1-2 zucchini, cubed
1 15-ounce can kidney beans (or the equivalent in pre-cooked dried beans -- you have those in your freezer right?)
1 teaspoon salt (I find I need a bit more, because I tend to unsalt broth when I make it)
1 bay leaf
black pepper to taste 1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped (I suppose flat leaf would be ideal, curly works fine)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (or two smaller cans or the equivalent amount of diced tomatoes from your freezer or garden, but they need to have been de-skinned)
1 10-ounce package frozen baby lima beans 2 1/2 cups chicken broth Swiss chard, Napa cabbage, or my personal favorite Spinach (however much bulks up the soup correctly)
1/2 cup red wine (or white if that's what you happen to have on hand) 1 cup elbow or small shell noodles Freshly grated Parmesan (Did you know the real stuff will keep practically forever in the fridge? Stay far away from the stuff in the green plastic bottle.)
- If you are cooking this in the crockpot, start with a large skillet and saute the onion, carrots, celery and zucchini in the olive oil until softened (about 5 minutes). If you want to cook it on the stove, throw the same ingredients in the big pot you will be cooking the soup in and saute.
- For the crockpot, transfer the vegetables to the crockpot and add the beans, salt, bay leaf, pepper, parsley, tomatoes and their juice, lima beans and broth. Add water to come up an inch above the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
- On the stove top, add the beans, salt, bay leaf, pepper, parsley, tomatoes and their juice, lima beans and broth on top of the softened vegetables. Add water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and cover and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- If you are cooking the soup in the stove, boil a pot of water and cook the macaroni noodles until just underdone according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- After 30 minutes on the stove, add spinach and wine. Bring back to full heat (especially important if you are using frozen spinach as I often do). Add the noodles. Stir and serve with grated Parmesan.
- Now back to the crockpot, after 5 hours, add the spinach and wine, replace the lid, and continue to cook on low for another 2-3 hours.
- Stir the uncooked macaroni into the soup, recover the pot and cook on high for about 30 minutes until the noodles are done. Serve with grated Parmesan.