minestrone slow cooker recipe

It’s autumn that means it is soup time and one of my very favourite soups is the classic Italian Minestrone. It’s full of vegetables and goodness and with the addition of pasta towards the end of the cooking it makes a real hearty comfort food option.

My trial this time round was to see if the twins would go for it. As per usual when confronted with something to eat they haven’t seen before the initial reaction was to turn their nose up and refuse BUT mummy got clever.

Alice: I don’t like that (very sad face on the verge of tears – my sensitive one)

Bessie: Me neither, I don’t want that. (very determined little face – my stubborn one)

Me: Ok, but you know the rules, first of all we try something and for those who eat it all up and see that it is delicious, there’s ice cream for pudding (NEVER fails)

Result – Two clean plates and not a murmur from either of them but lots of ‘Mmmm, this is really tasty mummy’.

Like I said, a little gentle persuasion can go a long way.

If you ask any Italian I am sure they never stick to one exact recipe when it comes to Minestrone it’s a base of vegetables with tomatoes and cannellini beans but if you haven’t got one vegetable or another chop and change, use up what needs consuming. for example the recipe calls for pork ribs but I had a pork chop in the fridge so I chopped that up (no bone) and it worked perfectly

Classic Italian Minestrone slow cooker recipe

Ingredients

Olive oil 
1 onion finely chopped
2 celery sticks finely chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
3 large carrots diced
2 large potatoes diced
2 large courgettes diced
1 tin cannellini beans
1 tin chopped plum tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 litres vegetable stock
150g pork chop (substitute with any meat, cut off the surplus fat)
200g small pasta like ditalini or maccheroncini

Method

  1. Sauté the onions, celery, and garlic until softened in a little olive oil.
  2. Add the carrot potatoes and courgettes and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add the cannellini beans, the tin of tomatoes, the tomato puree and the vegetable stock. Stir all the ingredients well
  4. Add the pork chop to flavour the broth. I cut off all the excess fat.
  5. Cook on high for 4 hours.
  6. 30 minutes before the end add the small pasta, stir well and leave covered for the last half an hour to cook.

Best served with fresh chunky bread.

Buon appetito!

sage slow cooker minestrone

vitamix kitchen applianceI have been sent a Vitamix to trial and put through it’s paces. For those who don’t know a Vitamix is an uber chic blender, mixer, smoothie maker and soup/sauce maker all in one. It’s pretty much a miracle machine, it even shakes cocktails!

There are three main buttons on the Vitamix control panel, On/off switch to the right, Variable speed dial in the centre and high/variable switch to the left which overrides the speed dial and is the fastest speed available.

It works pretty much like a supersonic blender with the capacity to heat and cook incorporated, so my chicken soup was ready to eat at the right temperature once finished but you must use cooked chicken and steamed vegetables to assure the best outcome.

It prepares beverages such as smoothies and juices, it can whip up cappucinos or lattes too. It prepares and blends soups in about 10 minutes max, it can prepare your dips and sandwich spreads, sauces, desserts and dressings or marinades.

It’s a tall machine so assembled it doesn’t sit under my worktop but the base is small and overall it’s an indiscreet piece of equipment.

vitamix control panel

I decided to start with a soup for my first product, keep it nice and easy until I got the hang of it.

Chicken, potato and spinach soup

5 minutes preparation, 4-5 minutes processing

vitamix chicken potato and spinach soup

All ingredients were placed in the jug, using variable 1. The machine is turned on and the variable moved quickly to 10. The mixture was processed for 4-5 minutes. Variable turned down to 3 and the lid removed so the spinach and chicken could be added through the lid whilst the machine was still blending, 15 seconds later the soup was poured into a bowl and eaten.

Verdict – delicious soup, and very quick and easy method, for me this a perfect lunch time option, something that doesn’t take up too much time but provides a healthy meal. It also provided 4 servings, the others I placed in a jug in the fridge and had lunches ready for the next few days, they could also be frozen if necessary.

Fresh tomato sauce

5 minutes preparation, 2-3 minutes processing, cook time 35-40 minutes

Vitamix - fresh tomato sauce

The beauty of tomato sauce is how you can add all sorts of vegetables or flavours to change it but this staple is perfect for pasta and using to cook chicken, sausages and so much more. Once made your batch will last in the fridge all week or can be frozen.

Verdict – Nice tomato sauce, easy to get together and a fabulous fridge staple. I use a lot of tomato sauce on the girls pasta so brilliant recipe for me.

Would I buy a Vitamix?

The answer to that is YES but there are a couple of buts.

1. I need a bigger kitchen as this sits on the surface and mine is already crowded, mind you if I had this I could dispose of the blender so maybe not a negative after all

2. The price. At around £400 this baby is expensive for my household budget and therefore would be left on the wishlist for quite sometime.

However if money was no option I would definitely invest in a Vitamix as once you get the hang of it this machine will prove to be an incredible time saver and the possibilities of use will just keep on expanding. Two recipes I’m going to try before giving it back are Vanilla ice cream, Chocolate Orange fondue.

Lucky you if you get one :)

Italian fish stew

This is a first for me, cooking fish in the slow cooker and I am pleased to report it worked exceptionally well. I was inspired by Mediocre Mum who made Chorizo, new potato and haddock and I took up the challenge to see if I could create one of our favourite recipes without having to slave over a hot stove all afternoon.

It worked and here is your fish stew slow cooker recipe. Enjoy!

Italian Fish stew

Ingredients
2tbsps olive oil
100g smoked pancetta or diced lardons
3 cloves of gralic crushed
1 tsp chilli powder (more if you like a kick)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
200g white fish – I added two pieces of salmon to my stew as well, I removed the scaly skin first though ;)
1 bag of frozen mixed seafood
1 x 200g pack of jumbo prawns
200ml white wine
2tbsps fresh torn basil leaves
salt and pepper to season
I had about 200g of fresh home grown tomatoes from the garden which I threw in too

Defrost any frozen fish before starting this recipe

frozen seafood mix

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a frying pan and fry off the pancetta to colour, add the chopped garlic to soften. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and chilli powder and heat through for a few minutes before adding to the slow cooker set on low.

Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and fry the fish off for about 1 minute on each side. Add to the slow cooker.

Pour in the white wine, add the defrosted seafood and prawns, add most of the basil holding back a little for decoration and season well. I added my home grown tomatoes chopped up too

home grown tomatoes

Cook for 2 hours on high setting or 4 hours on low

Italian fish stew in slow cooker

Serve in bowls with a basil leaf with crusty bread to accompany and mop up

Italian fish stew

 

Tips

Not over spicy, in fact next time I might add a bit more to it as I like a kick to my fish stew.