Tuesday, July 20, 2010

slow cooker minestrone soup

I realize this hot soup is NOT the most weather appropriate dish BUT our A/C is fully functional again AND I needed a delicious but filling 'set it and forget it" meal today so slow cooker minestrone it was!

We love summer!  Pool parties at the Sheridan household are standard.  Arrive when you can and leave when you must.  However, my heart goes out to my hard working husband who leaves for work at 6:30am and returns home almost 12 hours later to find a backyard littered with popsicle sticks, empty juice boxes, collapsed beach chairs and soggy towels.  I feel so guilty watching him organize the chaos, still in his tie, as his OCD prevents him from disregarding the mess and leaving it for me to deal with the following morning.  There was a time before I had mastered the art of 'prepping ahead and dining in', when he would come in after cleaning up our mess and wonder if I had a plan for dinner.  Cranky, water logged children were screaming and whining, the house was a disaster and I, standing there, unevenly suntanned, dripping pool water on the kitchen floor, had no plan at all.

Not today!  I loaded my slow cooker with the ingredients for this super healthy, filling soup before I went to bed last night and took a couple of minutes to toss some ingredients in my bread machine for french bread this morning.  The kids were still cranky and the yard was still a disaster but at least dinner was on the table after he tidied up and walked the dog.  I'm a lucky girl....I know.

slow cooker minestrone

3 cartons chicken broth ( I use Natures Promise organic)
2 (14 1/2 – ounce) cans no salt added petite cut diced tomatoes
2-3 handfuls of organic baby spinach

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 medium carrots, chopped
1-2  zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 T dried Italian seasoning*
1 T basil*
1 bay leaf (optional)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 t salt
½-1 cup cup uncooked small whole wheat shell or elbow pasta
1 (15.5 – ounce) can organic cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained 

*In the summer I use fresh herbs.  1/4 cup chopped parsley, 10 basil leaves and 1 T chopped oregano.  If you don't have fresh available, just use dried!)

1.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except for pasta and beans .
2.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 ½ hours (You can cook longer if you need to.  I cooked it for 9 hours on low today.)
3.  During the last 30 minutes add pasta and beans.  Stir a couple of times and serve hot.  I like mine with parmesan cheese and hot pepper.

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