Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Soupy Slow Cooking

I've got a winner of a crock-pot soup for you today!

I have been rocking through the recipes in my Fix It and Forget It cookbook, which features TONS of recipes made just for a slow cooker. A lot of the recipes are similar and most often can serve simply as inspiration for you as you learn how to best throw things together for a slow cooked meal. The beauty of crock pot meals are that they are also extremely flexible beyond the variable cooking time. Don't like that vegetable? Skip it! Want a cheesier soup? Add two cans of the cheese-based condensed soup instead of one.

This recipe was just one of those meals for me. I wanted a basic minestrone soup, so I found and used a recipe for inspiration. I skipped the usual pasta and instead used the suggested barley, which kept things really low-calorie but super hearty. You could add in or substitute red kidney beans, zucchini and many other veggies.

My key to maintaining my weight during the week most often depends on healthy lunches, and soup is my go-to for a quickie lunch that fills me up. I made this crock-pot meal overnight, dealt out servings in individual containers the next morning, and took one with me for lunch while freezing the rest. Then, throughout upcoming days and weeks, I have a supply of healthy soups to grab in the morning, no defrost required. I just let the soup sit through the morning at my desk before heating the container for four-five minutes in the microwave for lunch.

Enjoy!

Minestrone Soup
Adapted from Fix It and Forget It

Makes six-eight lunch servings

2 boxes of Tuscany-blend chicken broth
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1 Spanish onion, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 dry barley
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 Tbsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. rosemary
28 oz. can diced Italian tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on Low 6-8 hours or until vegetables are tender. Optional: stir in baby spinach once soup is done, and/or top with grated Parmesan cheese.

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