This recipe makes a VERY thick minestrone. If you prefer yours thinner, cut back on the amount of orzo or add a bit more stock. If you don’t have orzo, any small, preferably whole-grain, pasta will do.
Feel free to use other beans or greens. I’ve used fresh October beans (similar to cranberry beans) I picked up from the farmers’ market. Turnip greens and Swiss chard also make great substitutes for the spinach.
For a smokier soup, try Mexican Minestrone.
Adapt Slow Cooker Minestrone for Special Diets
- Too many carbs? Skip or reduce the amount of orzo. If you want your soup to be on the thicker side after doing this, cut back on the amount of stock too.
- Vegan? Omit the cheese or use vegan cheese.
- Gluten-free? Leave out the orzo or use a small gluten-free pasta instead.
Need a hearty soup for Meatless Monday? Make Slow Cooker Minestrone before you leave for work in the morning. When you get home, the most amazing thyme- and sage-laced smells will be wafting through your house.
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken stock preferably reduced sodium
- 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes, chopped 1 can
- 15 ounces white kidney beans (cannellini), rinsed and drained 1 can
- 2 carrots peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried sage
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups cooked whole-wheat orzo about 2/3 cup dry
- 1 zucchini sliced in quarters lengthwise, then chopped
- 2 cups fresh spinach stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
- Basil sprigs for garnish optional
Combine stock, tomatoes (with their liquid), beans, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, sage, bay leaves, and pepper in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours or on high 3 to 4 hours.
Add the cooked orzo, zucchini, and spinach. Continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Remove bay leaves. Ladle soup into serving bowls and sprinkle with cheese and basil, if desired.
Too many carbs? Skip or reduce the amount of orzo. If you want a thick soup, cut back on the amount of stock too.
Vegan? Omit the cheese or use vegan cheese.
Gluten-free? Leave out the orzo or use a small GF pasta instead.