14 November 2013

Crock Pot Gourmet: Minestrone

Five years ago, in November 2008, I flew out to Maryland the week before Thanksgiving to sign the final paperwork on our house. My husband was overseas with the Air Force, and the kids had school (I divided them between several friends, who graciously agreed to take care of things for me), which meant I was doing all of the house-buying stuff on my own, armed with a Power of Attorney and a whole lot of faith.

I flew into Baltimore on Monday morning, and arrived at my realtor's office ready to sign the paperwork for my house at 10am. But there was a problem with one of the loan forms, and the bank didn't want to accept my signature (even though I had both a General Power of Attorney and several specific Special Powers of Attorney to allow for any issue that might pop up). They insisted that we had to get the form signed by my husband and faxed back to us before we could proceed. Coordinating overseas, with a major time difference, meant that the closing would have to wait until Tuesday evening.

My flight back to California wasn't until Wednesday morning, but I didn't have a hotel reserved, because I'd planned to buy an air mattress and sleep in my new house - and get a head start on the painting, etc. that I wanted to do before we officially moved to Baltimore in January. I went to the library down the street from my new house, to check my email and research hotels in the area. And there was an email in my inbox from an old high school friend, who had moved to the Baltimore area and wanted to get together while I was in town. She ended up inviting me to stay with her, so I wouldn't have to spend the night alone, feeling sorry for myself in a lonely hotel room. And in return, I offered to make dinner for her. But she'd just had her braces tightened, and said she didn't feel up to eating anything more substantial than soup.

No problem! I can make soup! Stacy's favorite was Minestrone, so I created this easy recipe for her. Now, every time I feel like life is beating me senseless, I make a big pot of Minestrone and remember the night when a dear friend reminded me that I was loved.

Stacy's Minestrone
(The original recipe was cooked on the stovetop*, but it easily converts to Crock Pot cooking.)
You will need:
2 (46oz.) cans vegetable juice (like V8)
2 (15oz.) cans dark red kidney beans (or approximately 3-4 c. cooked beans)
1 (15oz.) can diced tomatoes
1/2 large onion, diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. green beans, cut into 1-inch sections
large handful dried oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. rosemary
1/2 c. shell pasta (uncooked)

Place celery, onion, green beans, and carrots in the bottom of your 7-quart Crock Pot. 

 Add tomatoes, kidney beans, and vegetable juice.

Stir in oregano, rosemary and garlic powder.

 If desired, for extra flavor, chop the celery leaves (from the center of a bunch of celery) and add to the soup. (I always do this, because the celery leaves complement the oregano and rosemary deliciously.)
 Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours, until vegetables are tender. 30-45 minutes before serving, stir in 1/2 c. pasta. (You don't want to add pasta too soon, or it will get mushy.)

*Note: I like to make this in my Crock Pot, because I can put it in first thing in the morning and forget about it all day long, until just before I'm ready to eat. But if you don't have a Crock Pot, you can make this recipe on your stove instead. Simply put all ingredients (except the pasta) into a large pot and simmer until veggies are tender. (Make sure to stir frequently, as the tomato base will burn if left unattended for too long.) 6-8 minutes before serving, stir in the pasta and cook until tender. Serve as-is or topped with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.

**Note 2: For Gluten-free diets, omit the pasta. And for my vegan friends, this soup is delicious without topping it with Parmesan cheese. :)


  1. I love Minestrone soup. It is delicious, and makes me think of my dad (it was his favorite). The fact I can make it in my Crockpot is even better. Thank you so much for linking up for my soup swap! I can't wait to make this!

    1. Thanks! This was fun!

      And I noticed on your blog that you're on a low-sodium diet. You can totally make this recipe low-sodium by using low-sodium vegetable juice, cooking the beans yourself (without salt), etc. :)