Made with protein-rich beans, assorted seasonal vegetables and aromatics, minestrone can be a satisfying choice for lunch or dinner. By preparing minestrone in a slow cooker, you can have a dish cooking for your family without spending hours stirring a hot pot. Soaking your beans before cooking helps remove some of the indigestible sugars that cause flatulence.
Sort through the dried beans, throwing away any that appear broken or off in color. Cannellini beans are a popular choice for minestrone, as are great northern beans. Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with water and allow them to soak six hours to overnight.
Drain the beans and discard the water. Place the beans in the slow cooker. Add chopped vegetables and garlic. Onions and carrots will lend a depth of flavor, as will seasonal vegetables such as yellow squash and zucchini. Also add either potatoes or pasta. If you're using potatoes, peel and then cut them into 1/2-inch cubes. If you opt to add pasta, rotini is a good choice for minestrone.
Add water or stock, following your favorite minestrone recipe for exact amounts. Add canned tomatoes, with liquid, and stir to combine. Diced or stewed tomatoes will work, as will crushed tomatoes -- although the soup will be slightly thicker if you use crushed tomatoes. Add herbs. If you're using dried herbs, add them at this point. If you're using fresh herbs, reserve them for later. Oregano works well in minestrone as does parsley, basil and thyme.
Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook until the beans, pasta and vegetables are tender, approximately 4 hours on the high setting, or 7 to 8 on the low setting. If you're using fresh herbs, add them 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time to allow their flavors to meld with the minestrone.