Pasta Minestrone soup

Cooler weather encourages me to find my best slow cooker recipes and get ready for several months of comfort food.  I love a fresh pot of homemade soup.  There is no comparison to soups that simmer in a crock pot to any can or mix in the market.  This soup recipe is very low-cost and will make six generous servings.  It freezes well and can be warmed up quickly for another meal another day.

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A minestrone soup is a classic Italian favorite and this recipe includes any type of shell pasta currently in the pantry.  I love to try different shapes of noodles in this one, but the classic would always be the shell shapes.

Gather these ingredients along with your favorite slow cooker and begin:   1 large carrot chopped, 1 large celery stalk chopped, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 2 small potatoes cubed, 4 sliced green onions, 28 ounces of chicken broth (made from stock base), 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning, 2 medium cans of diced tomatoes, red pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 cup shell pasta, 1/2 cup fresh parsley or parsley flakes, and Parmesan cheese for the topping.

Combine all of the ingredients EXCEPT the lettuce, pasta, parsley and cheese in a crock pot.  Cook on low for at least 6 hours or on high for 5 hours.

During the last 20 minutes of cooking time, add the lettuce to the top as well as the dried pasta noodles.  Allow to cook for the last 20 minutes.  Serve in large bowls topping with parsley and cheese.  A side salad and crusty bread completes this comfort meal.

I love the taste and the hearty feel to this vegetarian soup.  If chicken broth is not desirable, this recipe will also work with vegetable broth.

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