I’m going to do two soup series over the next week or so (depending on the success of each recipe); the first is a trio of slow-cooker recipes I found online. I normally don’t do crock pot recipes because they inevitably call for canned soup and I try to avoid using those. However, I found a good resource on the Better Homes and Garden website; there were several recipes that didn’t require canned soup. Of the 40-plus crock pot soup/stew recipes, I picked three that I thought Kurt and Ken would like; two were made without any canned soup and one, a fish chowder, used canned cream of celery which I have on hand for tuna noodle casserole. (TNC is one of the two casseroles I make with canned soup).
I picked a classic beef minestrone to start; I at least know what minestrone is supposed to taste like, so I figured this would be a good first test candidate. The second soup is a smoked turkey sausage, chicken and cannellini bean soup, titled “cassoulet” soup; I thought it would be interesting to see how thick, dense, porky cassoulet flavors were translated to a crock pot soup. The last soup is the fish chowder that uses the can of cream of celery; I’m most apprehensive about this one, but as always, willing to give it a try.
You can find the original minestrone recipe here; the only changes I made were to use beef broth in a carton (Pacific, my go-to brand), baby spinach instead of summer squash, and to add some additional herbs– bay leaf, and thyme.
Slow-cooked Beef Minestrone (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)
- 1 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
- 1 qt beef broth (Pacific)
- 1 15-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-0z can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 c thinly sliced carrots
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 c uncooked bow tie pasta
- a few handfuls of baby spinach, torn (about 1 c packed)
- grated Parmesan
Season the cubed beef with salt and pepper. Add everything except the lst three ingredients (pasta, spinach and Parmesan) into the slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours, or on high for 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
Add the pasta and the spinach and cook on high for 30 to 45 minutes until pasta is ready.
Serve with the Parmesan and warm, crusty bread.
This soup was really easy to assemble. I used spinach because that’s what I had and it worked out well. I think the overall flavors were good, but not “bold” enough for me; Kurt disagreed and thought the flavor was fine. Next time, I think I’ll use regular tomatoes and add fresh chopped garlic, onions and basil. I’d also use one more bay leaf (it’s a lot of tomatoes) and dried oregano along with the thyme. (Or maybe just try another brand of Italian seasoned tomatoes)! Overall, it was a very good soup that was quite effortless to make. I’ll definitely make it again!