A chunky vegetable soup with no fixed recipe, Italian minestrone is cooked with whatever vegetables are in season. It may contain meat, rice or pasta. This slow cooker minestrone recipe has meat (sliced sausages) and the vegetables are carrots, cabbage and zucchini.
So, minestrone is Italian? Yes. It is pronounced the way it is spelled; no long “o” and long “i”, and no silent “e”. Minestrone is essentially a peasant soup — very rustic and comforting.
Can minestrone be cooked on the stovetop? Sure. But the long and low temperature cooking in a slow cooker yields better results with the flavors from the various ingredients being drawn out for a magnificently tasty broth.
Slow cooker minestrone, for me, is an ideal soup for entertaining. Throw everything in the slow cooker six hours or so before your guests are expected to arrive. When the soup is done, set the slow cooker to WARM. Serve the minestrone right in the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon crushed dried oregano
- 4 to 5 sprigs fresh rosemary, stripped
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups chopped tomatoes
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 4 cups meat broth, preferably homemade
- 3 to 4 garlicky sausages, sliced into rings
- 2 cups cubed carrots
- 3 to 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 2 cups cubes zucchini
- Heat the olive oil in a small pan. Add the onion, garlic and oregano. Saute until softened.
- Transfer the sauteed vegetables, with the oil, into the slow cooker. Add the rosemary, bay leaves, tomatoes, tomato paste and broth. Stir. Taste. Add salt and pepper.
- Throw in the sliced sausages, carrot cubes and shredded cabbage.
- Switch on the slow cooker to low and cook for three hours.
- Taste the broth. If too bland, add salt or pepper, or both, as needed.
- Stir in the zucchini cubes and continue cooking for another hour.
- The slow cooker minestrone can be served at this stage when the vegetables are done but still retain a little crispiness.
- If you prefer a mushier minestrone, cook for another two hours.
- Best enjoyed with buttered crusty bread.