Meatless Mondays are my new thing. It is the one day a week that I consciously make the effort to forgo any meat on our plates. It's not like we're huge meat eaters. We eat probably more chicken and ground turkey then anything else, but I like to make sure there is at least that one night where I'm serving my family something meatless. Not only is it a nice change of pace, but it can make things a little cheaper too.
One of my favorite things to order from The Olive Garden is their Minestrone Soup. I order it almost every time I'm there. I can always take my bread plate and scoop a bit of salad onto it , but not the soup. If I don't order it, I'm not getting it.
Several years ago, I went out on a hunt to find a Minestrone Soup that resembled Olive Gardens version. I've tried several recipes over the years but I only found one I liked, and I've tweaked it here and there by adding different veggies or taking some veggies out, playing with cooking times, etc and I think I've finally got it where I think it's just about perfect for me.
It's an easy recipe because it's made in the crockpot and fills the home with the most delicious aroma! All of the veggies you either probably grow in your garden or buy at the Farmer's Market, and of course they are in every grocery store, too. My kids always gobble this soup up, and to make it even more filling and a bit more like Olive Gardens, add some homemade breadsticks and a side salad for a complete meal!
Crockpot Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Kraft Foods
A delightfully hearty meatless soup that's filled with veggies and guaranteed to warm you up from the inside out!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6-8 hours
Total Time: 6 hr and 30 minutes
1/4 cup Italian dressing
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1 cup chopped carrots ( about 2 medium)
1 cup sliced in halves zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cans (15 oz each) vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1-1/2 cups small shaped pasta, such as ditalini, shell, or elbow
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Heat dressing in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, and garlic; cook for about 2 minutes or until crisp tender, stirring occasionally.
- Pour contents of skillet into crockpot. Add tomatoes, beans, broth, water, and seasoning. Stir and Cover with lid.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
- Stir in pasta, and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Spoon into bowls and top with shredded parmesan cheese.
* I don't recommend cooking this soup on high for a shorter time period. The vegetables don't soften as much and the flavor doesn't get as developed as when cooked low and slow.