Slow-Cooker Minestrone Soup

Serves 6
Ingredient list: 

1 medium yellow onion (peeled, finely chopped)

2 cups peeled and sliced carrots (around 4 medium carrots)

2 cups sliced celery (around 5 to 6 celery stalks)

2 cups chopped green beans (trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces) (can substitute canned no-salt)

1 tablespoon salt-free Italian seasoning blend

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder (or one head of garlic, minced)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 can no salt added, diced tomatoes (or 1 3/4 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)

1 can no salt added kidney beans (drained)

1 can no salt added garbanzo beans (chickpeas) (drained)

3 cups no-sodium, or, low-sodium chicken broth

3 bay leaves

1 zucchini (finely chopped)

1 cup frozen, chopped spinach or other greens (thawed)

1 cup whole wheat ditalini pasta (or medium shells)

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 cup chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)


Any leftover vegetables can be added into the slow cooker to enhance this minestrone soup—think parsnips, cabbage, potatoes, turnips, kale, and more. The more, the merrier when it comes to this soup.

Prepare the vegetables: peel and finely chop the onion; peel and slice carrots; chop the celery; and trim and cut green beans into 1-inch pieces.

Add all the chopped vegetables into the bowl of 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in Italian blend, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Top vegetables with canned tomatoes, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, chicken broth, and bay leaves. Do not stir. (This makes sure the vegetables-which need the most cooking time-are closest to the heat source of the slow cooker.) Cover with lid and cook 5 hours on high or 10 hours on low.

Thirty minutes before serving, use tongs to remove bay leaves, discarding them. Stir soup with a spoon. Finely chop zucchini and add to the slow cooker bowl, along with the spinach. Cover and let cook on high heat, if not already on the setting.

Prepare the ditalini pasta according to package directions. Drain and add oil into pasta so it doesn't stick together.

When the soup is finished cooking, ladle into bowls, topping with a few spoonfuls of pasta and (optional) parsley.

Per serving: 306 calories, 2.9g fat, .3g saturated fat, 244 mg sodium, 12.4g fiber, 11.7g sugar, 16.1g protein.

Recipe courtesy of the American Heart Association.