You know, with all this cold weather on the horizon, I’m in the mood for meals involving my slow cooker. For me, cold weather is equated with seeking warmth from the fireplace, being bundled up in nice bulky coats- and COMFORT FOOD. So when I discovered this yummy sounding recipe, I looked in my pantry to find the needed ingredients, I found out that I was lacking in one- bacon (which is fine by me, since I don’t eat the oinky-oink…moving on…). Yet, being the innovative cook that I have turned into, I substituted bacon for beef stock ( don”t hold it against me).
NOTE: my method of cooking goes like this: I take a recipe and tweek a bit….which means that measuring cups go out the window! With my recipes, you’ll hear a “splash” of this, “sprinkling” of that. So- as you prepare your meal, I encourage you to taste as you go along- trust me, you’ll know what to add!
so…here’s the goods:
2 huge cans of garlic and herb pasta (really, for this soup you can use use any tomato-based pasta sauce)
1 can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Plenty of diced carrots, onions, and celery with a FEW new potatoes ( to make things easier, use prechopped stew veggies found in the produce section of your local grocery store. Believe me, you’ll thank me later!)
Splash of beef broth
Sprinkling of italian seasoning
About 2 1/2 cups of dry elbow macaroni
Dash of black pepper
Some finely shredded parmesan cheese
Water ( I’ll tell you how much to use in the directions)
First things first: Plug in your slow cooker and put the setting on high. On the stove, boil 3 cups of water in a separate pot ( this will be for your noodles). Pour all contents of the pasta sauce into the cooker. Now, use the cans to pour water into the slow cooker as well (2 cans of water will be enough), to dilute the sauce to soup-like consistency. Stirring to blend, add some italian seasoning and some black pepper ( again, I encourage you to taste while cooking- you may find that your stock requires more seasoning that what I prefer). Pour in some beef broth to add some depth to your soup. Add the veggies and beans. Remember, you are cooking this meal in a slow cooker, so don’t worry about your them cooking away-they won’t!
Remember that pot of water boiling on the stove? Well, now is a great time to add the macaroni so it can cook to a nice al-dente perfection. Yet, once it is done cooking,put your noodles aside- you won’t add those until the last 25 minutes of cooking (just don’t forget to drain the noodles first)!
Again, you’re cooking a meal in a SLOW COOKER! Even on a HIGH setting, your soup will be simmering for a good 4 to 6 hours. So go- do something productive! After a day of doing whatever your little heart desires, your veggie soup will be ready and waiting on you to add the noodles! Remember, you have already cooked your noodles; 25 minutes or less should be enough time for them to warm up and absorb the flavors in the soup
As far as the cheese go: Once you ladle your soup into an individual bowl, garnish with as much cheesy goodness as you like!
And there- an easy meal that requires little prep, but yields great rewards! Serve this dish with some nice, crusty, buttery garlic bread- MMMMMM!!!!