Crock-Pot, Hearty Minestrone Soup



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Look on the menu of most Italian restaurants and you’ll see this classic Italian soup. My recipe is so hearty and satisfying, it makes for a wonderful, soup meal. Each huge, 2 cup serving has only 223 calories, 2 grams of fat and 3 Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints. So fiber rich, each serving has 10 grams of fiber!

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: LOW heat for 6 to 7 hours or HIGH heat for 3-3½ hours


Ingredients

2½ cups onion, diced

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup celery, diced

1 tablespoon garlic cloves, minced

1 (32 oz) container reduced sodium beef broth, chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 (24 oz) jar Barilla pasta sauce or your favorite. see shopping tips

1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans or white kidney beans, (cannellini) rinsed and drained

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes, drained

2 bay leaves

1½ teaspoons Italian seasonings

Fresh ground pepper, to taste

1 Parmesan cheese rind, see food facts below

2½ cups zucchini, diced

4 cups fresh spinach

2 cups cooked small whole wheat or whole grain pasta elbows (al dente) (1 cup uncooked pasta)

Parmesan cheese, grated for topping, optional


Instructions

1. In a microwave safe bowl, add onions, carrots and celery. Cook for 3 minutes to soften.

2. Add to crock pot, cooked onions, carrots, celery, garlic, broth, pasta sauce, beans, drained tomatoes, bay leaves, Italian seasonings and pepper. Mix well. Drop in Parmesan cheese rind. Cover and cook on LOW heat a total of 6 to 7 hours or cook on HIGH heat a total of  3-3½ hours. Time varies depending on your crock-pot. Mine cooked on high heat for 3 hours.

3. Note: One hour before the soup is done, add zucchini. Cover and cook on high heat for the last hour. Or, cooked chopped zucchini in microwave for 2-3 minutes and add to soup with cooked pasta and spinach and continue to cook 10 minutes. Remove bay leaves and parmesan rind. Adjust seasonings, if desired.

4. To serve: Add 2 cups of soup to each bowl and top with grated parmesan cheese , if desired.

5. This soup freezes great!

Makes 12 cups total. Each serving, 2 cups


Food Facts
Minestrone (“big soup”) is a thick vegetable soup that usually contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans. It’s usually topped generously with grated Parmesan cheese.

An old Italian secret is to add a Parmesan rind to the soup while cooking. It creates a wonderful flavor. Once cooked you remove it from the crock-pot.


Serving Tips
Serve with a side salad and some bread, if desired. It’s fun to serve this soup with my skinny caesar salad on a stick. It creates a delicious, easy meal: Super Low Calorie Caesar Salad on a Stick


Weight Watchers Freestyle SmartPoints
3
Weight Watchers SmartPoints 7

Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS 5

SKINNY FACTS: for 1 serving (2 cups) (w/out cheese on top)
223 calories, 2g fat, 0g sat.fat, 0mg chol, 11g prot, 43g carbs, 10g fiber, 980mg sod, 11g sugar
FACTS: for Freestyle SmartPoints
92 calories, 0g sat. fat, 3g protein, 5g sugar