Slow Cooker Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto (Panera Copycat)

Slow Cooker Garden Vegetable Soup with Pesto (Panera Copycat)

If your house is full of meat-lovers, I recommend adding a pound of ground meat to the soup.  Cooked meatballs would also be great.

Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (14.5oz each), undrained
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1/2lb fresh green beans, ends cut off and chopped (or frozen)
  • 2.5oz fresh baby spinach (about 3 big handfuls)
  • 2 cups diced or minced cauliflower
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced (1 cup)
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 Tbls. tomato paste
  • 1/2 brown rice (not quick cooking)
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings
  • 4 cups vegetable broth *not needed until day of cooking
  • 6 tablespoons basil pesto (store-bought or homemade) *not needed until day of cooking

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients to your crockpot (except pesto).
  2. Cook on “low” setting for 8 hours or until vegetables are soft.
  3. Spoon into bowls and top with pesto.

To Freeze and Cook Later

  1. Label a gallon-sized plastic freezer bag with the name of the recipe, use-by date (3 months from the prep date), and cooking instructions.
  2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients except broth and pesto.
  3. Remove as much air as possible, seal, and freeze for up to three months.
  4. When ready to eat, thaw overnight in refrigerator or in morning in water.
  5. Add to slow cooker with broth and cook for 8 hours on “low.”
  6.  Spoon into bowls with pesto and serve with crusty bread