As of last week, whenever I would think of minestrone, I’d think of the kind you get from Olive Garden, along with the salad and those seriously addictive breadsticks. It was always my favorite soup there, and I’d order it every time with the soup and salad meal. I’d tell you I’d order that meal for the soup alone, but we all know the soup was just there as a dipping receptacle for those breadsticks (so addicted, srsly).
Don’t get me wrong — I like the OG’s minestrone. It’s got everything a classic minestrone should — tomatoes, basil, pasta, beans, chopped vegetables. But it also has a lot of what it shouldn’t, at least in my opinion — a heavy hand on the broth and the salt. I know this now because, as of last week, I now have a new minestrone soup to set the standard. And that is this version — this hearty 13-bean slow cooker minestrone, perfect for the holiday season when cookies count as breakfast and colds and sniffles run amok (at least that’s been the case in this household).
In the last week, I’ve received boxes of cookies in the mail for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, and I also attended a treat exchange over the weekend. I’ve got another cookie exchange to go to next week, and then over Christmas, my mom and I are going to do our annual Christmas cookie baking extravaganza. I’m never one to complain about having too much dessert, but seriously? My fridge, freezer and countertops are covered in cookies. And cookie crumbs. On account of all the eating of the cookies.
Soooooo needless to say, this hearty, healthy soup is quite welcome in my house. And in my belly. It’s made with Bob’s Red Mill’s 13 Bean Soup Mix, which is a blend of — you guessed it — 13 beans, including navy, lima, garbanzo and kidney beans, split peas and lentils. The soup mix alone would make for a fantastic soup, but adding in fresh chopped veggies, canned diced tomatoes, orecchiette pasta and Italian herbs makes it just that much more hearty and satisfying. I could eat this for days and days and days and never get sick of the medley of flavors.
Of course, the slow cooker continues to be my friend because without it, I’d be stirring this soup on the stove top til kingdom come. And that’s not something I have time to do lately, and especially didn’t have time for on the day I made this soup, because my poor little girl woke up sick as a dog. I won’t go into details, suffice it to say she had a long bath that morning and I could have used a glass of wine by 9 a.m. Ahem.
So, thankfully, blessedly, I was able to throw everything into the slow cooker, give it a stir, cover it and let it lie so I could take care of everything else that day. By that afternoon, we were all well rested, feeling better and the house smelled like hearty minestrone heaven. And dinner was already ready. Amen.
So if you, too, are feeling a bit like the Cookie Monster with the sniffles these days, may I suggest a batch of this slow cooker soup? It’s just the kind of holiday cheer you need.
P.S. Want to be even more slow cooker savvy? This awesome class from Craftsy gives you all the tips you need to make your best meals, crockpot-style. Save the oven, use a slow cooker.
P.P.S. There’s still time to enter to win new glassware from AlwaysMod!
- 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups Bob's Red Mill 13 Bean Soup Mix
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup sliced button mushrooms
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 2 cups orecchiette pasta
- 6 cups baby spinach leaves
- In 6-quart slow cooker, combine broth, tomatoes, soup mix, celery, carrots, onion, mushrooms, basil, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, oregano and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW heat 8 to 9 hours or HIGH heat 5 to 6 hours.
- Stir in remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pasta and spinach. Turn slow cooker to HIGH heat and cook another 20 to 30 minutes, covered, until pasta is tender.
Disclosure: This post is in partnership with Bob’s Red Mill. I received compensation for recipe development purposes only. All opinions are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.