Minestrone Soup- Slow Cooker Style
3 ribs celery (diced)
3 carrots (diced)
1 onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 small or 1 large zucchini (diced)
1 can white beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 T olive oil
2 T Tomato paste
2 liters chicken broth
*OPTIONAL 1 cup cooked pasta of your choice (I use macaroni or ditalini) Which will require another pot.
Put all of your vegetables in your ceramic slow cooker crock, add seasonings and oil. Cook on high for 10-15 minutes, checking every 5 minutes to see if your veggies have softened and onions are translucent. Add your tomato paste the last 2 minutes and let it "toast" in the mixture.
Remove from microwave and add in your chicken broth, stir and set it into the slow cooker on Low for 4 hours. Taste for seasoning before serving.
Moving on the Foccaccia bread. I love homemade bread but have to devote a day or so to making our sandwich bread. This recipe requires very little time and effort in devotion. I think it came from the King Arthur Flour website, which is a great resource for bakers! You can make this bread in 1 bowl, stir it by hand or use your stand mixer with paddle (my favorite method).
In 2 hours you will have a fantastic smelling house and EVERYONE will be at the table ready to eat! This also makes great sandwiches or panini if you split the bread and add your fillings.
1 1/2 C. Warm Water - slightly warmer than body temp. when you touch it.
3 T. Olive Oil
1 1/2 t. Salt
3 1/2 C. Flour
1 T. instant yeast
1 T. Italian Herb Blend (no salt, just herbs) Use minced fresh herbs too like rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, what you like.
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese or cheese powder (optional)
Grease 9X13 pan with olive oil.
Combine all ingredients and beat with mixer or by hand for a minute. Scoop batter into pan and with wet hands pat it out to the edges of the pan. Let it rise for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Poke dough all over with fingers and drizzle olive oil on top. You may also sprinkle fresh rosemary and a bit of salt on top at this point too. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown.