I’ve got a cozy dinner for you tonight. Slow cooker minestrone soup that’s packed with vegetables, beans, lentils and orzo pasta (my favorite soup pasta!)
I actually rarely make a recipe then quickly turn around and post it, but this one was so yummy that I wanted to get it up for you so you could make it this week. In fact, I made both this soup (to freeze) and a lasagna for a dinner party on Saturday night and BL loved this soup so much that he heated himself up a bowl the moment everyone left. Soup 1, my new lasagna recipe, 0.
There’s a little more effort here than just ‘set it and forget it’, but every step is worth it to layer the flavors. If you’ve ever made a slow-cooker soup before, you know that there is a difference between piling all of the vegetables in and browning a few before you get started.
I do recommend sautéing the onion, celery and carrot before adding to the soup. While you can just throw it in there (and I’ve done it countless times to know it works), you’re also missing out on the caramelization that happens when you reduce onions. A flavor that I think is key in really good soups. Therefore, I recommend taking the extra 10 minutes and doing it.
If you’re making this in your Instant Pot, then you can use the saute function before slow-cooking it.
The other step is adding the orzo pasta in towards the end. Adding pasta along with the beans will create pasta mush– and very little broth. Set a timer, then stir in the pasta.
Same goes with the kale or spinach- you’ll want to add them right towards the end so they just wilt into the hot soup.
Lastly, don’t be tempted to skip the hit of fresh lemon juice at the end, that’s key for a flavorful soup! My secret weapon in just about every dish is some type of acid– it’s what heighten’s flavors (especially salt) and finishes the dish. If you don’t have any fresh lemons, red wine vinegar will also work.
I choose to add some fresh grated parmesan cheese on this, but that can be optional depending on whether or not you eat cheese. Enjoy friends! xo
Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup! This vegetarian or vegan soup is SO delicious and packed with vegetables. Healthy comfort food with kale, beans, lentils and orzo pasta.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup brown or green lentils
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (28 ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 3/4 cup orzo pasta
- 1 cup well-chopped kale or collard greens
- 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1/2 medium lemon, juiced
- grated parmesan, optional
- Heat the olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery along with 1 teaspoon salt and cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic for 30 seconds, then transport all of the contents into the base of a slow cooker.
- Add the basil, oregano, paprika, thyme, lentils, broth, tomatoes, kidney beans, zucchini and bay leaves and stir together. Put the lid on and cook on high for 4 hours.
- Stir the soup, then add in the dried orzo. Cook for another hour, or until the orzo is tender.
- Just before serving, stir in the kale and let sit for 5 minutes to wilt. Then stir in the parsley and lemon juice.
- Divide into bowls and top with more parsley or parmesan cheese, if desired.