Hands-down, there’s nothing I enjoy more in the fall than simple, delicious piping hot comfort foods like soups and stews, My all-time favorite soup is Minestrone. It’s guaranteed to warm up my taste-buds, body and soul on a cold day and it’s a treat my entire family enjoys. When the smell the rich Italian spices and fresh vegetables simmering, it’s like a beacon calling them to the kitchen.
Minestrone, in it’s basic sense, is an Italian vegetable soup, prepared in various styles depending upon the region or even country interpreting this dish. I’ve tasted Minestrone Soup prepared many ways, some with very surprising elements like a German style minestrone I sampled that was more like a tomato soup which incorporated a variety of vegetables, spaghetti noodles, parsley and three types of beans (kidney, white and garbanzo.)
The recipe I share with you today is one that I’ve adapted over the years to include the things I love best in a minestrone soup including fresh vegetables from my garden. My secret for creating a well infused blend of flavors and soft, tender veggies without having to slave over the stove all day is to go hand-free and let my slow cooker do the work. It’s so easy to prep and make Minestrone Soup using a slow cooker and create the perfect warm up for a brisk fall day!
To help me with my favorite soup creation this go-round, I have a new friend in the kitchen, the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker with Spoon/Lid. This gorgeous little appliance is definitely a step up from my old slow cooker units! Featuring three cooking choices program, probe and manual modes, you set and select what best suits your recipe and slow cooking needs.
The Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker shifts automatically to keep your food warm when your cooking time is up. The cooking probe helps you determine correct temperatures with ease and the six-quart style readily fits a large items such as a full chicken for roaster or a generous portion of soup for enjoying!
Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
6 C chicken broth
2 C tomato, chopped
1 C zucchini, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 C carrots, sliced thin
1/2 C red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp sage
1/2 tsp salt
2 C pasta shells
In a 6 quart slow cooker, add tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, red bell pepper, and kidney beans. Sprinkle spices over the vegetables and beans. Pour in chicken broth. Gently stir with a spoon to fully mix.
Cover the slower cooker and cook on low for six hours.
I like the the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker latches on the top. If you’ve used other slow cookers before, you know that sometimes the lid can pop open when the food boils and make a rattling noise. The latches keep everything nice and secure until I’m ready to lift off the lid.
The latch isn’t necessary for cooking, though and what it’s super handy for is traveling! Want to take your Minestrone soup to a pot luck, neighbor or holiday gathering? No problem! The clip-locked, secure lid has a tight seal that holds all of the ingredients and the heat in.
The latched cover won’t prevent you from checking the internal temperature as a handy “insert probe” area on the top of the lid allows you to use the temperature probe that’s included. This is particularly handy when cooking meats. If you’ve used a slow cooker in the past, you know as I do that it can be difficult to gauge the temperature of meats to know precisely when the food is done. When you lift the lid, you reduce the temperature and waste valuable cook time. Having the ability to check the temperature without opening the lid is a total game-changer! Kudos to Hamilton Beach for adding this valuable feature.
It’s easy to set the temperature on the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker. All of the function are easily accessed via the buttons on the front of the unit and visible on the LED display screen. You can use pre-programmed settings or manual, adjust your cooking time, desired temperature and view the actual temperature on the unit, as well using the probe.
When the six hour setting on the slow cooker is nearly complete, using traditional methods (according to manufacturer’s directions) cook your pasta shells, drain and set aside.
When the minestrone has cooked for the full six hours in the slow cooker, remove the lid (according to manufacturer’s instructions) and stir in the pasta shells. Recover the slow cooker and allow the soup to sit for ten minutes. This will ensure the pasta shells are heated and fully incorporated into the soup.
Ladle soup into bowls and enjoy! Optionally, serve with grated Parmesan cheese and garlic bread or rolls.
To learn more about the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6 Qt. Programmable Slow Cooker visit http://www.hamiltonbeach.com/programmable-slow-cookers-set-n-forget-6-qt-programmable-slow-cooker-with-spoonlid-33967.html