Slow Cooked Thursday – Minestrone

Having just picked six cabbages in the last two and a bit weeks I’ve been on the hunt for ways to use it up.  One such recipe was a version of the classic Italian pasta soup, minestrone, which I made in the slow cooker.  I based it one a recipe found in an old Family Circle pasta recipe book that I picked up somewhere along the tracks and one I have cooked lots out of.  I’m not claiming that this recipe is in any way traditional, but it certainly is very tasty and easy to whip up.  Sadly this was gobbled up by everyone (and the the left overs frozen) before I remember about this post, so I apologise for the lack of images, please feel free to use your imaginations.

250g dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight in water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 rashers of bacon (optional)
4 Roma tomato, peeled and chopped (I don’t usually worry about peeling, I also use tomatoes I’ve frozen if they’re not in season or I’ve even used tinned)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2.25L beef or vegetable stock (I always use vegetable)
1/4 red wine (optional)
1 carrot, chopped
1 swede, chopped (I swapped this for turnip)
2 potatoes, diced
3 tablespoon tomato paste
2 zucchini, sliced (no zucchini in the crisper, so I swapped it for cabbage)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 cup small macaroni
pesto and grated Parmesan, to serve

Drain and rinse the beans, then place them in the slow cooker.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and bacon (if using), until the onion is soft.  Add to the slow cooker.

Put the remaining ingredients except the peas, macaroni, pesto and Parmesan to the slow cooker, turn on to low and cook for 6-8 hours.  15-30mins before you’re ready to serve stir in the peas and macaroni.  Season to taste and serve topped with a little pesto and grated Parmesan.

There’s a lot to like about this kind of soup.  Firstly it has pasta in it so I can trick Miss Three into believing it’s not actually soup!  Secondly the vegetables are fairly versatile so feel free to add whatever you have on hand or in the garden.  And lastly, it’s most definitely a meal in itself, filling and satisfying.  It might not fall into the summer food category, but it’s not really heavy either, especially if you use fresh tomatoes and summer vegetables.


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