It is amazing all the junk you realize you have when moving, things that you have been holding onto for years with the reoccurring thought of, “Hey, I just might use this set of grilling utensils once we buy a grill later this year.” Fast forward five years later. Still no grill. Still grilling utensils. However, there are those few finds that remind us of their usefulness. Take for instance the handy dandy crockpot.
Here is my beef with crockpot cooking. It takes (deep breath, these are difficult words for me) planning and preparation. I have never been great with that. Okay, who am I kidding?! I pretty much epically fail at both of those things. I am instead a poster child for yet another “p” word out there…procrastination. Yeah, that’s it. That’s pretty much the word I live by. Stamp it on my head with permanent ink because I think it will haunt me until the day I die…which is one thing I don’t mind procrastinating. Wink wink.
Anywho, there was this one magical day a few weeks ago that I actually thought in my head in the wee hours of the morning, “You should make soup today…in your crockpot.” Well, okay then! I sure am thankful that I followed through with that crazily absurd thought and started chopping away because this My Minestrone Soup was the perfect end to a perfect day. And I sure didn’t mind the aroma filling our home as I was packing away and rediscovering the rest of our junk…I mean treasures.
My Minestrone Soup is chuck full of tender vegetables such as green beans, carrots and celery. I love the pop of color that the red kidney beans contribute as well as the extra kick of flavor the parmesan rind lends to this soup. I was happy to find a good brand of gluten free shell noodles to accent the complimentary flavors in this dish. I have actually been pretty pleased with some of the pasta blends that we have tried recently. Quick tip: I have noticed that the rice and corn based pastas tend to hold their shape better and become less sticky after cooking as opposed to some of the quinoa based noodles. But to each his own as far as preferences go.
Feel free to add more or less broth to this soup depending on your taste. I tend to shy away from super brothy soups, seeing as how I want the actual soup to be my meal and therefore more substantial. I prefer to have more chunk and less liquid, but again to each his own. I did add some more vegetable stock and seasoning to the soup the next day to stretch it a little further in servings for the family, and it tasted just as good. In fact, maybe even better. You know the golden rule of soups; it is always better the next day. It’s like the ingredients decide to have a party overnight without us, and viola! The next day your soup is on steroids in terms of flavor. Party away soup! Party away!
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Parmesan rind
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh green beans cut into 1" pieces
- ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 can red kidney beans (about 15 oz.)
- 1 can great northern beans (about 15 oz.)
- 2 cups cooked gluten free pasta shells
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- In a crockpot combine broth, thyme, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper and parmesan rind*.
- Chop all vegetables and add them to the crockpot.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or on high for 3-4 hours until vegetables are barely tender.
- Remove bay leaves and parmesan rind.
- Chop parsley and rinse and drain beans. Add parsley, canned beans and lemon juice to crockpot. Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- During last 10 minutes of cooking, cook pasta shell noodles according to package directions. Once finished cooking to al dente, add to crockpot.
- Salt and pepper to taste and serve soup warm with freshly grated parmesan cheese.