I bow down to the inventor of the slow cooker. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen on various projects yesterday afternoon, including some slow cooker prep for tonight’s supper. But I came home at 4:30 today and dinner was on its way to being ready. Makes for a ridiculously less harried evening when dinner is already done. And the clean up is negligible, too. All I had to do was slice up a Golden Hearth whole wheat loaf (best bakery in town, I say) and butter it. Done.
Lots of good bag items ended up in this soup — several carrots, the leek and all the spinach — so it’s super healthy, but filling and hearty, too. And there is a load of room to play and make substitutions. You really can’t mess it up.
And I do believe if I whiz some of this up in my Magic Bullet, I may have a nice bowl of healthy mush that, if I am lucky, my little one will eat for dinner tomorrow.
Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (from Canadian Living)
6 slices bacon or pancetta, chopped (omit to keep it vegetarian)
2 onions, chopped (I used the whole leek instead, green and white parts only)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped (didn’t have any, so skipped it)
2 carrots, sliced
1 tsp dried basil (if you have an herb garden, use fresh and add it at the end)
1 tsp oregano (ditto)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) white kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I soak my own and freeze them in can-sized portions — for a how-to, click here)
4 cups (1 L) sodium-reduced chicken stock (use vegetable stock if you want a vegetarian soup)
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) diced tomatoes (I had some romas that needed using up so I skinned them and added them whole)
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup (175 mL) tubetti or other small pasta (I used orzo)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh parsley (forgot to add this, darn)
1/4 cup (50 mL) tomato paste (oops, forgot this too)
1/3 cup (75 mL) grated Parmesan cheese (I added a parmesan rind from the freezer instead — this is a great trick for adding flavour to soups. Omit the parm for a vegan soup)
In skillet, fry bacon over medium-high heat until crisp; transfer to slow cooker. Drain fat from skillet. Fry onions, garlic, celery, carrots, basil, oregano, salt and pepper over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape into slow cooker.
Mash 1 cup (250 mL) of the beans; add to slow cooker along with remaining beans. Add stock, tomatoes and bay leaf; cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until vegetables are tender.
In pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until tender but firm, about 8 minutes. Drain and add to slow cooker. Add parsley and tomato paste. (Here’s where I also added the whole bunch of spinach, stemmed).
Cover and cook on high for 10 minutes or until hot. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle each serving with Parmesan cheese.
– Dinah Murdoch lives, eats and writes in Kitchener.