Saturday, February 8, 2014


  • 42-ounces organic, fat-free, low-sodium vegetable broth (no MSG)
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato puree (tomato sauce will work)*
  • 1 15-ounce can small white beans or Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed*
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach or kale leaves (whichever you prefer, or you could use 1 cup of both)
  • Shredded goat cheese (optional)
Always rinse your beans.

1) In a 3.5- to 4-quart slow cooker, combine vegetable broth, tomato puree, beans, rice, onion, basil, salt, pepper, and garlic.
2) Cover; cook on low-heat setting 5 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
3) Just before serving, stir in spinach or kale and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Hint: This is a great little soup to make for guests as a pre-dinner item. Garnish it with a little pile of shredded cheese on top and a fresh sprig of parsley. This goes well paired with fresh baked, small loaf of french bread.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: 150 calories, 9g protein, 31g carbs, 3g fat (1g sat fat), 8g fiber
{Original recipe from 'Mind, Body + Spirit Fitness' website. Changes were made to make it my own.}

Details for New Cooks


VEGETABLE BROTH - For more advanced cooks, the most nutritious vegetable broth comes from making your own. Of course, that goes for all foods and ingredients, but we can't be perfect all the time and when you're still new to cooking and still learning, trying to do everything on your own can be incredibly overwhelming. The more you start getting used to making your own meals the more you will come to realize that vegetable broth is a wonderful staple to use frequently, especially if you like to make soups and crockpot dishes, so the more advanced you become as a cook this is one ingredient you may want to think about making yourself in bulk and keeping in the fridge. Until then, buying vegetable broth at the supermarket - it's located in the soup aisle - is totally fine as well. Always make sure you buy low-sodium broth, no matter if it's vegetable broth or a meat broth, there is no reason for any added sodium to your diet through broth. The other important things to look for to keep it healthy is fat-free, organic, and broths containing no MSG. This recipe does call for an odd amount so you will need to buy enough cans or containers of broth to ensure you can at least get 42 ounces out of it.

TOMATO PUREE - Just as with the broth, tomato puree is always the most nutritious if made by scratch at home. This is especially true with ingredients that come from a can. Canned foods do still contain their nutrition but not as much as if it were made from scratch. Not to mention that most canned foods usually contain BPA within the packaging of the can; BPA is something you always want to steer clear of and is most prominent in plastic bottles and packaging. With that said, as a new cook, buying tomato puree in the can is totally fine. If this is something that later on you feel like making from scratch then that's a wonderful direction to go! For this recipe, I purchased my tomato puree in the can from the store and I will tell you that I had a horrible time finding puree specifically in a 15-ounce can. In fact, the only tomato puree they had was in a giant can and I wasn't comfortable buying twice as much as I was going to use just to throw the rest away (I hate wasting). What I ended up using was a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce and the recipe still turned out perfect. Pureed tomatoes are a very, very close consistency to tomatoes that have been sauced. If you can't find tomato puree then go ahead and substitute it with sauce.

WHITE BEANS - This recipe gives you a choice of small white beans or Great Northern Beans, and either one taste and work great in this recipe. Both types of bean are very similar to the other so don't worry too much on making a choice of which one to get. This recipe called for canned beans so that is what I ended up using; however, uncooked beans is the most nutritious way to go. If you decide to go with uncooked beans then you will need to make sure to follow the appropriate directions to soak them in water (most likely overnight) and cook them to the proper consistency prior to using them in this recipe. You will need to use 15-ounces which should be weighed out after the beans are cooked. If you are using canned beans, make sure to pour the beans out into a colander and rinse them well with water prior to using them in the recipe. Whenever you rinse canned beans the water will look bubbly at first (almost like there is soap within the liquid that the beans were canned in). Make sure to rinse the beans until the water is running clear and there are no bubbles forming. Click here for my post on the amazing nutritional qualities of beans.

RICE - Just as the recipe says, use uncooked brown rice. Make sure to use regular brown rice that comes in a bag, not the Minute Maid or quick-cooking brown rice you can buy in the box. Prior to using any kind of rice, always make sure you rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Rinsing rice is just a general rule of thumb. In transport, rice tends to get knocked around and the starch in it can cause the rice to get powdery. For the most part, brown rice doesn't usually have a big problem with this so you will probably only need to rinse it lightly. White rice is a major one with needing to be rinsed (but sticking with brown rice is a healthier choice anyway). Don't over-rinse rice...just enough to rinse it clean quickly and that's it.

ONION - A yellow onion works best with this recipe but you could also use a white onion or even a sweet, yellow onion - like a Walla Walla - if you choose. Just steer clear of using a red onion as the taste is just a little too much for this soup.

SPICES - Basil, salt, and pepper are staples you should already have in your cupboard. If you don't, buy them. Always use sea salt versus regular salt - even though it's still salt, and we should always watch our sodium intake, sea salt is just a better alternative.

GARLIC - This is a good recipe to practice using fresh garlic. This recipe calls for it to be chopped so all you have to do is simply peel two cloves and chop it up into small-medium pieces (chop it in slices in one direction, turn, then slice a few slices in the other direction).

SPINACH/KALE - Use whichever you prefer or use one cup of each. You can buy either fresh or pre-packaged. If it's fresh, always make sure to rinse and dry. If you buy it pre-packaged, check the package to see if it's already pre-rinsed for you (a lot of them are like this nowadays for convenience). Either way, make sure it is dry when it comes time to chop it or else it's going to stick all over your knife. Make sure to only use the leafy parts and to discard all parts of them stems. My suggestion is to make sure this is dry, chopped, and into the crock pot approximately 15-20 minutes prior to the dish being done. Since you are using a green leafy produce that is fresh there is no need to put it in at the very beginning when you put all the other ingredients into the slow cooker. Fresh spinach and kale take only a short while to cook, especially in a hot crock pot soup or stew. This rule also goes for when you are using fresh herbs or spices in a crock pot recipe - put them in about 15 minutes prior to the dish being done. Dried herbs and spices go into at the beginning.

CHEESE - The cheese is optional but in my opinion adds a great hint of flavor that goes very well with the rest of the flavors in the soup. And you really aren't using very much - just some shredded on top of your soup when served. Goat cheese is nutritionally more sound and easier to digest than cow's cheese.

This recipe is pretty "cut and dry". The only thing I can suggest to you is to periodically check the soup and stir it once in a while. Usually you should not lift the lid of a crock pot dish throughout the day - just leave it until it's getting close to being done. With that said, when it comes to soups, I always like to check mine every hour or two just to quickly give it a stir and check the temperature. My crock pot tends to run at a higher temperature and sometimes recipes that are very soupy can start to burn a little at the bottom of the pot. As long as you're quick at pulling the lid off, giving it a quick stir, then leaving it alone you really won't lose much heat.

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