The slow cooker is an awesome kitchen appliance. Sometimes, however, I shy away from it because I am just not that accomplished with it. I like my food to taste really fresh and sometimes when I use my slow cooker, I feel like the vegetables and other fresh ingredients just don’t seem as crunchy or fresh tasting as when I cook them for less time on top of the stove.
So, believe me when I tell you that this slow cooker vegetable minestrone soup recipe is perfect in the slow cooker. The vegetables keep just the right amount of crunch. And the soup tastes really fresh and healthy. And it requires almost no effort at all! If I can do it, you can do it!
Maybe my slow cooker won’t get the best of me after all…
One of the reasons I like this soup so much is that I held off adding some of the veggies until close to the end. This worked great because all of the great soup flavors melded together, I was able to let my raw Chinese herbs cook for the whole time, but even the delicate asparagus retained the perfect fresh and crunchy texture that makes them taste so good.
Another reason this soup is awesome is that instead of adding pasta, I used buckwheat. Buckwheat mimics a grain in this soup, but it’s really a seed, so if you are trying to eat grain-free, you will love this too!
I made a huge pot of this soup. Okay, I made way too much of this soup… so much that I ended up eating it for breakfast a few times and I even added some to a pasta sauce I made one night. I should have put a few portions in the freezer, but I still haven’t found any good glass freezer containers (and my mason jars have been cracking in the freezer lately)… but If I had some in the freezer, I’d be pulling out a jar for tonight’s dinner because I’m still not sick of it!
If you like vegetable soups, try my recipe for Lentil Vegetable Soup next!
Here are some of the great ingredients in this oh-so-easy soup:
Scallions, if you know me, are one of my favorites. In Chinese medicine, the root of the scallion is a healing herb (Cong Bai). I always keep scallions on hand in my refrigerator so that I can whip up a batch of cold and flu fighting tea (scallion roots and ginger) the second anyone feels that scratchy throat coming on. It helps the body sweat out toxins. Scallions are antiviral and antibacterial; they are good for the common cold and general nasal congestion — just don’t eat too many if you have a fever.
Carrots help strengthen the organs in your body. They also are good for the eyes (this is their claim to fame) and they promote healthy digestion. Many moons ago, people used to make carrot tea to ward off measles and to prevent cancer. Carrots help detoxify the body and in today’s world of Chinese medicine, they are prescribed to ease constipation and tonsillitis.
Celery actually helps stop bleeding — so if you or anyone you know has just had surgery, start adding celery to your dishes! Celery is also great to help lower blood pressure and it’s been known to help with insomnia.
In my acupuncture practice, some of my favorite conditions to treat are stress, anxiety, and depression. I’m also always looking for foods that will add to the effectiveness of these treatments. Chickpeas actually help calm the spirit. They relieve anxiety and soothe irritability… it kind of makes you realize why hummus is so popular…
Buckwheat lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and it’s high in fiber. And, because buckwheat is also high in magnesium, it is the perfect food to combat heart disease. I’ve been substituting buckwheat groats in recipes that call for pasta or rice… it makes a great risotto, so try it!
Spring is asparagus season. In Chinese medicine, we use asparagus to heal the body from within; it gets rid of excess heat in your body, is good for circulation, can remove plaque from the arteries, soothes constipation and is good for hypertension. Many years ago, doctors used to prescribe asparagus juice to reduce cholesterol. Women can especially benefit from this vegetable’s healing abilities: it helps with menopause and fertility. One of my favorite Chinese herbs is called Tian Men Dong and it’s a form of asparagus. It’s great if you have yin deficiency (like so many woman do…), it can help if you have a dry cough, hot flashes, constipation, or night sweats.
I added a raw Chinese herb to this soup (as I usually do…). This time I used Shan Yao. Shay Yao is Chinese Yam, and it’s great for energy.
- 5 scallions, thickly sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 3 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 lge garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 4-1/2 cups vegetable broth
- 3 thyme sprigs
- 2 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 3 pieces raw Shan Yao (an optional Chinese herb)
- 1 cup raw buckwheat groats, rinsed and drained
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- 10 oz fresh or frozen green peas
- 1 bunch asparagus, sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
- Add all ingredients except asparagus to slow cooker except the green peas and the asparagus.
- Cook on low heat for 4-1/2 hours.
- Add asparagus and peas.
- Cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls. Enjoy!