Thursday, September 13, 2012

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Minestrone Soup

Autumn is getting close and the temperature is slowly dropping here. Well, you know what that means don't you? It's time for soup! All kinds of soup. My kids love soup and so do I. My husband isn't the biggest fan of soup, but he'll eat the creamy ones and go back for seconds. He didn't try this one. I guess because it's not creamy. Oh well, his loss!
I pinned this soup awhile ago. I adapted it from Skinny Taste, which is one of my favourite places to go for Weight Watchers friendly recipes.

You wouldn't believe what a shopping experience I had on Monday when I went to pick up a few things that I didn't have at home for the soup. The store I chose to go to must have been pretty busy over the weekend, because there was nothing left in the store! I went to get celery but there was none. Luckily I had some already chopped up and frozen for moments like this.  I also noticed that they were out of bananas! What?!! I was happy that they had milk by the end of it, because I really didn't want to run around the city all day looking for things.

Then I went to get some low sodium chicken broth. Nope, no chicken broth in sight. Not even the regular one with salt. So I had to get vegetable broth instead. Okay, no problem there, it worked just fine. But what happened there? Was everyone making soup this past weekend? Italian parsley. Are you kidding? They didn't even have celery, why would they have Italian parsley? I got the curly type. There's nothing wrong with it anyway, it's just curly. What's the big deal? I didn't even bother to check out the cheese. I decided that if I didn't have a Parmesan cheese rind in the freezer, I'd just leave it out. But I did have one! Hooray! My tiny freezer is stocked better than the store!

The recipe called for a 28oz can of tomatoes. I did have a can in the cupboard, but I also had 3 large tomatoes in the fridge that were really soft. Actually, they were at the back, and sometimes things that make it to the back of my fridge freeze. I think these tomatoes must have been frozen at some point, but it's okay, they are good for cooking with. I didn't want to throw them away so I used them in this recipe. You can use a can if you prefer. And my beans came in a 19oz can, not 15 as the original recipe used. I pureed only half the beans because I wanted to see some beans in the soup and my kids like them. I guess if your kids don't like beans, you can puree the whole can. It turned out to be a bit thick, but you could add more broth if you need to.

No added salt this time because I had to get the regular broth. There was nothing low sodium or salt free at the store today. Jeez! Taste your soup and decide if it needs salt after. I've given you the points value for smaller or larger portions as this recipe makes quite a lot of soup. I didn't include the cheese rind, because we're not going to eat that in the end. Fish it out along with the bay leaves when the soup is done.

V Leave out the cheese rind to make this vegan. Sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top before serving to get that nutty flavour .

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot) Minestrone Soup
6 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 4
8 Servings | PointsPlus per Serving: 3

1/3 cup diced onions
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
3 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (or 28oz canned)
1 piece of Parmesan cheese rind (leave out for vegan)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary (I didn't have fresh)
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups vegetable (or chicken) broth
1 x 19oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups chopped spinach (I used frozen, thawed and squeezed)
2/3 cups uncooked pasta (I used tubetti)

Place the onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes, cheese rind, basil, parsley, rosemary, bay leaves and pepper into the slow cooker. Take 1 cup of the broth and 1/2 the beans and puree until smooth. Add the bean puree to the slow cooker along with the other 2 cups of broth and the rest of the beans.

Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6-8 hours. While that's cooking, boil your pasta according to package directions and set aside for later. The reason I used dry pasta in the ingredients list is because my package of pasta listed the nutritional info for dry pasta and I wanted to do the calculation correctly. 85g of the dry pasta worked out to 2/3 cup. I know this because I weighed it. And actually, I thought there was too much pasta in the end, especially the next day when it expanded even more and sucked up more of the liquid.

Now, 40 minutes before you're ready to eat the soup, add the zucchini and spinach. Give it a good stir and let it cook for 30 minutes. Then, stir in the pasta. Cook it for another 10 minutes, then you're ready to gobble it up.

Add a bit of fresh grated cheese if you like, just be sure to add the extra points for it.

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