Wasn’t it just last week that I was commenting to someone how mild our winter has been thus far in the Chicago area? Well apparently I neglected to knock on wood because today we are MORE than making up for our snowfall deficit with the “Superbowl of Snowstorms.” I have officially declared it an “all pajama day” at our house, along with getting the fireplace going and of course the game later on.
Days like this also call for hearty and comforting soups, like this Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup, a recipe passed on to me a few years back by my sister. I actually made this soup earlier last week and it’s the perfect thing to make for a crazy busy work week. Just prep some onions/carrots/celery the night before:
The next morning, into the slow cooker it goes with some chicken stock (I use my Smitten Kitchen Slow Cooker “Uncluttered Chicken Stock” which I always have on hand in the freezer). For a true vegetarian version simply substitute vegetable stock. Add a can of tomatoes:
Some beans of your choice (I used Great Northern Beans this time around) And of course the secret ingredient for any minestrone soup: a Parmesan rind. Low and behold, look what they carry at my most awesome grocery store, Mariano’s: Parmesan rinds!
Into the slow cooker it all goes and simmers away for a good 8 hours (on low)
As for my snow day today, I’ll be cooking up a big batch of my favorite Andouille Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya, enjoying the winter wonderland, some football and later, a glass or two of red wine by the fire.
Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
5-6 cups homemade chicken stock (or reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth)
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can beans (either Great Northern, Cannellini, Kidney or Chick Peas), drained and rinsed
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 Parmesan cheese rind
Salt and ground black pepper
2 cups slightly undercooked (al dente) ditalini pasta
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach
Parmesan or Romano cheese for serving
- In a slow cooker, combine 5 cups broth, tomatoes, beans, carrots, celery, onion, oregano, basil, thyme, Parmesan rind, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours.
- Thirty minutes before the soup is done cooking, add ditalini, zucchini and spinach. Cover and cook 30 more minutes. Add additional cup of chicken stock if soup is too thick. Remove bay leaves and Parmesan rind and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle parmesan cheese over top.