Sometimes, it seems like there are as many recipes for the Italian veggie and pasta soup known as minestrone as there are gorgeous, scenic vistas in Italy or photos of Aperol spritzes on our Instagram feeds — and we’re not complaining about any of it!
Because of its origin as a simple peasant dish, it’s hard to know what exactly constitutes an “authentic” minestrone. Most versions that you will find typically include a combination of beans and pasta in a tomato-based broth, plus some kind of vegetable. Usually, almost all of the vegetables that make up the bulk of the soup are left up to the cook's discretion.
This slow-cooker version keeps things hearty with cubes of tender potatoes, snappy green beans and creamy cannellini beans, in addition to carrots, onion, celery and the classic tomatoes and pasta. But you can always take your cue from the Italians and use this recipe as an excuse to cook up the odds and ends you find in your refrigerator's crisper drawer at the end of the week.
Technique Tip: If you are cooking the soup overnight or if the slow-cooker will finish its cooking cycle while you're out of the house, boil the pasta separately to keep it from getting too soft. Add the cooked pasta to the soup just before serving.
Swap Option: Tiny tubular pasta shapes like ditalini or elbow pasta are typical in a minestrone, but you can replace it with a cup of any small noodle.
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:1.
Add all ingredients to the slow cooker except the pasta, Parmesan cheese and minced parsley.2.
Stir together, then cover and cook on high for 3½ hours or low for 7 hours.3.
Open the slow cooker and stir in the pasta, then cook for about 20 minutes more until the pasta is tender.4.
Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle Parmesan and parsley over each bowl. Serve immediately.
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.