I hope you're having a wonderful weekend. We're spending it on the soccer field, but plan on coming home to a wonderful lunch of leftover minestrone soup and mini cornbread muffins.
8 cups beef broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes (whole can, flavored is fine)
1 cup dry beans: I used a combo of pinto, black, lima,--- rinsed in hot water
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 tablespoon dried minced onion (or 1 small onion, finely diced)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup uncooked pasta (to add later, I used brown rice fusilli)
parmesan cheese, optional garnish
Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Pour broth into your cooker, and add tomatoes and the beans.
I rinsed my beans in hot water, but didn't soak because of the high volume of liquid in this dish. If you live in a high altitude area, you might want to soak overnight, or do a quick soak by bringing the beans to a boil for 10 minutes, then letting them sit in the hot water for 1 hour.
If you are using any variety of red beans, YOU MUST do this rapid-boil to kill a possible toxin that occurs naturally in red beans.
Add vegetables, seasoning, and thawed spinach. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are soft. Add dry pasta, and cook on high for about 30 minutes, or until pasta is bite tender. Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
My kids love this soup. It's simple, it cleans out the cabinets and the fridge, and it really loads an awful lot of fiber and vegetable-goodness into each bowl. I use beef broth for flavor and color. If you're a vegetarian, use veggie broth, but maybe add a bit of balsamic vinegar or A-1 sauce to amp up the flavor just a tad.
Freezes well---but the pasta will swell. You'll need to thin it a bit with more broth or water when reheating.