Healthy soup from the slow cooker

Robin McDaniel
Arrive home to a tasty, healthy meal with this Crock Pot Bean Soup.

Arrive home to a tasty, healthy meal with this Crock Pot Bean Soup.

Crock Pot Bean Soup is a great meal that lets your slow cooker do the work while you work. My sister Gail had a request from her friend Holly for a recipe for a Crock Pot meal that could cook all day while Holly was at work, be ready when she got home and still be low fat and healthy.

While that sounds like a tall order, I knew this Crock Pot Bean Soup would be a perfect addition to Holly’s cookbook. One note of interest: The generic name for those pots you put a meal or soup-makings in, turn to low and let cook all day is a “slow cooker.” Crock Pot is a brand name, and the company really doesn’t like to be used generically to describe all cooking done in a slow cooker.

Crock Pot Bean Soup is healthy and low in fat, as well as being a good source of protein from the beans. I add some lean ground beef and a cup of whole-wheat pasta just because that is the way my family prefers it, but the beans and vegetables are good all by themselves.

Let the beans soak overnight, and they will be ready to go into the slow cooker in the morning. I like the 15-bean mixture, but you can use any dried beans. If you are going to add the ground beef, brown it the night before as well.

Sprinkle some low-fat cheese on top just before serving.

One note: When measuring your beans, a 1 pound bag of dried beans is equal to approximately 3 cups.

Crock Pot Bean Soup

1 lb. bag mixed dried beans

5 cups water

1 bag (12 oz.) baby carrots

1 onion chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tablespoon parsley flakes

1 tsp. dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 can (14 oz.) undrained diced tomatoes

1 small can tomato paste

Optional ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat pasta

1 lb. lean ground beef, browned

Cover beans with cold water in large pot or saucepan. Soak overnight. Rinse and drain beans. In a Crock Pot or other slow cooker, add beans, water, carrots, onion, garlic, seasonings, tomatoes and tomato paste, plus ground beef if using.

Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 8-9 hours. If you want to reduce the cooking time, cook on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Add the pasta about 30 minutes before serving. Remove bay leaves before serving.

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