Recipe: Slow-Cooker Minestrone

Recipe: Slow-Cooker Minestrone

Kate Winslow
Jan 17, 2017
(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Soups and the slow cooker are a match made in heaven, and this vegetarian minestrone is no exception. Full of vegetables, herbs, and creamy cannellini beans, this is a classic chop-and-drop slow-cooker recipe — just add each vegetable to the pot as you prep it. A hunk of Parmesan rind lends depth and richness to the broth, but feel free to omit it if you want to keep this vegan.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

A Little Tip for Thicker Soup

Because slow cookers require you to cook with the lid on, soup made in one doesn't reduce or thicken quite the same way as it would if simmered on top of the stove, uncovered. Blending a small amount of the soup helps thicken it up nicely. If using an immersion blender, a few quick pulses in the pot should do the trick. Otherwise, purée a couple cups of soup in a blender until smooth and then stir back into the soup.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Serve with Croutons

While it's traditional to serve minestrone that has pasta, we like the unexpected crunch you get from homemade croutons — the craggy, toasty, golden hunks offer a welcome contrast to all those tender vegetables. When we're really on our game, we bake the croutons in the morning while we're chopping our vegetables and then set them aside. That way, when we get home after a long day and are hungry for dinner, everything is all ready to go.

The Wholesome Slow Cooker

We believe that the slow cooker is a tool that can help you eat well no matter your goals. With the start of the new year, we're utilizing the slow cooker to create wholesome meals to nourish us from breakfast to dinner. In the series you'll find recipes full of veggies and never short on flavor. It's time to take advantage of all this workhorse appliance has to offer.

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Slow-Cooker Minestrone

Serves 6 to 8

For the soup:
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 small head Savoy or green cabbage, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
6 cups water
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind (optional)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 large sprig fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 sprig fresh oregano, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise

For the croutons and serving:
8 ounces country bread, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 sprig fresh rosemary, cut into 1-inch pieces
Chopped fresh parsley leaves and red pepper flakes, for serving

Make the soup: Place all the ingredients except the zucchini in a 5-quart or larger slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on the LOW setting until the vegetables are tender, 6 to 8 hours.

If you used fresh herbs and the Parmesan rind, remove and discard the sprigs and rind. Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a stand blender and purée until smooth. Stir the purée back into the soup. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée some of the soup directly in the slow cooker). Add the zucchini, cover, and cook until the zucchini is tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the croutons.

Make the croutons: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Toss the bread, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet, arrange into a single layer, and scatter the rosemary pieces over top. Bake until the croutons are golden-brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

Taste and season the soup with salt and pepper as needed. To serve, divide the soup among warm bowls. Top with a handful of croutons and a sprinkling of chopped parsley. Serve the red pepper flakes on the side.

Recipe Notes

  • Make ahead: The croutons can be made up to 2 days ahead, cooled completely, and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
  • Storage: Leftover soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months.
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