We are closing in on the last 9 weeks of the school year and this mama is pretty burnt out on packing lunches (and dinners for my oldest who eats dinner at the dance studio a few nights a week). The only thing that’s helping my race to the finish line is my my trusty slow cooker.
Taking 15 minutes in the morning to chop a bunch of veggies (using a handy chopper) and toss them in the slow cooker along with vegetable stock and seasonings ensures that I have a hot meal waiting on us for dinner, and lots and LOTS of leftovers for lunches. If I’m on my game and chop the veggies ahead of time on my meal prepping day, then it’s really only 5 minutes of my time in the morning. And who can’t find 5 minutes in the morning if it saves you 30 minutes or more in the evening?
Soups are a fantastic way to use up vegetable scraps, keep your grocery bill in check, get nutrient-dense foods into your family, and save you time, energy, and dishes! By prepping the vegetables ahead of time, you can even delegate the “dump it all in the slow cooker” part to an older child or teen in the morning. Parenting score!
Feel free to switch up some of the produce in this recipe to fit your family’s preferences or to use up what you’ve got in the fridge. Swiss chard or kale would be lovely instead of the spinach or you could use some butternut squash in place of the sweet potato. That’s the beauty of soup-it’s endlessly customizable and alway delicious.
And please don’t let recent television drama scare you. It’s totally safe to use your slow cooker! (If you’re not a fan of the mega-hit show This Is Us, then you probably didn’t understand that reference. It’s ok! You can still enjoy this tasty, veggie-filled soup!)
Slow Cooker Minestrone
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 medium yellow squash, diced
- 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (28 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
- 3/4 tsp Italian seasoning blend
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 2 TBS basil, chopped
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 2 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 32 oz container of reduced sodium vegetable stock
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 TBS white wine vinegar
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Optional for serving: cooked short cut whole grain or gluten-free pasta (such as ditalini) or cooked brown rice, chopped fresh parsley or basil, dairy-free parmesan shreds
- Place diced onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, squash, sweet potato, garlic, canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, rosemary, basil, parsley, white beans, and vegetable stock into the slow cooker. Stir well to combine. Place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 4-5 hours.
- 10 minutes before serving, add the baby spinach, white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste (I used 1.5 tsp pink himalayan sea salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper). Stir well and let cook another 10 minutes.
- To serve, add pasta or rice to each bowl and then ladle in the soup. Top with fresh herbs and dairy-free parmesan shreds if desired.
- Allow soup to cool before storing leftovers in the fridge in a tight lidded container. I recommend storing any pasta/rice separate from the soup for best results. Keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freezes beautifully in glass jars for 3-6 months. Serves about 8 when you serve it with pasta or rice.
How are you getting through the last 2 months of the school year? Share your tips and secrets in the comments!
Full disclosure: This blog post contains some affiliate links. Meaning, basically, if you make a purchase from any of these links it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I may make a little money. So thank you in advance for supporting my family 🙂 I am not sponsored by any products or brands featured.