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Mike and I have been carpooling to and from work together for over two years now. Our commute route has changed numerous times, since we've both switched jobs and moved across the metro area, but we're both committed to making our carpool work. The financial savings and loving companionship are the obvious reasons, but there is also the fact that Mike is really not a morning person and I am not a late afternoon person. I take the morning driving shift, while Mike either attempts to get in some bonus sleep or munches on the cereal that he ran out of time to eat before leaving the house. On the way home, Mike navigates rush hour traffic while I slump exhausted in the passenger seat, hungrily and grumpily contemplating dinner. I really don't get my groove back until I've gotten some food into myself. There is a reason that the majority of the entree recipes on this blog can be completed in half an hour: if it took us any longer than that to make dinner, I probably would melt down into a cranky 5'7" version of my two-year-old self.
A slow cooker is the obvious solution to the problem of getting dinner on the table as quickly as possible. However, most slow cooker recipes involve meat, which I don't eat all that much of anymore (Slow Cooked Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce is an exception). So my slow cooker had been languishing in the cupboard, with occasional outings for Thai pork and baked potatoes, until one day I found the Vegetarian Soups section in my slow cooker cookbook. This minestrone recipe is perfect for weeknights: we put the soup together the night before and refrigerate it until the next morning, cook it on low all day, throw in the pasta when we get home, and dinner is ready in half an hour with no effort. Then I'm ready to face the rest of the evening with a stomach full of vegetarian goodness.
Serves 8 as a first course or 4 as a main dish
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2 medium potatoes, chopped
- 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup dry elbow macaroni
Add all of the ingredients except macaroni to slow cooker. Tip: add the crushed tomatoes and broth last to minimize splashing.
Cover and cook on low for 10-16 hours. Add macaroni for the last 30 minutes of cooking time.
Remove bay leaf before serving.