It seems like there are as many recipes for the Italian vegetable soup known as minestrone as there are gorgeous, scenic vistas in Italy — neither of which is bad thing! Though this simple peasant dish typically includes beans and pasta in a tomato-based broth, all the vegetables that make up the bulk of the soup are left to the cook's discretion.
This slow-cooker version keeps things hearty with cubes of tender potatoes, snappy green beans, and creamy cannelini beans, but you can always take your cue from the Italians and use this recipe as an excuse to cook up the odds and ends in your refrigerator's crisper.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small to medium yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1 pinch dried sage
- 1/2 teaspoon salt + more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper + more to taste
- 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) Yukon Gold or red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1/2 pound (8 ounces) fresh or frozen green beans
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
- 1 cup ditalini or elbow pasta
- Parmesan cheese for serving
- Fresh parsley, minced for serving
If your slow cooker has a brown or sauté function: Heat the olive oil in the slow cooker and add the onion, celery, garlic, oregano, and sage. Cook until the onion and celery are soft and translucent, then switch the slow cooker function to high heat and add all remaining ingredients except the pasta, Parmesan cheese, and minced parsley.
If your slow cooker does not have a brown or sauté function: Add all ingredients to the slow cooker except the pasta, Parmesan cheese, and minced parsley.
Stir together, then cover and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours or low for 7 hours.
Open the slow cooker and stir in the pasta, then cook for about 20 minutes more until the pasta is tender.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan and parsley over each bowl. Serve immediately.
Make Ahead: If you are letting the soup cook overnight or if the slow cooker will finish its cooking cycle while you're out of the house, you can boil the pasta separately. Drain the cooked pasta, toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil or vegetable oil to prevent sticking, and refrigerate until ready to serve. Add the cooked pasta to the soup just before serving.