Minestrone Soup in the Crock Pot

I went to the grocery store this morning to buy dry kidney beans for a batch of minestrone soup.

They don’t carry dry kidney beans.  Can you believe it?

We complain like crazy about the price of food, but it seems to me the real culprit is that nobody cooks anymore.  I set out to make a pot of soup for the same price as the $3, single serving can of minestrone soup I bought one night when I was in a hurry.  Let’s see what happened.

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Ingredients:

1 cup dry kidney beans ($.25)
1 cup orzo ($.33)
5 carrots ($2)
1 onion ($.60)
2 potatoes ($.60)
1 big clove of garlic (free from my garden)
1 quart of canned tomatoes (Home canned, $.50)
1 bay leaf (free from my garden)
1 teaspoon basil ($.10)
1 teaspoon oregano ($.10)
1 tablespoon olive oil ($.36)
1 teaspoon salt (already in my kitchen)

1. Rinse & soak the dried kidney beans overnight. You may have to go to a specialty store, like Mountain Mama Natural Foods​ here in Colorado Springs, to get them.

2. Optional: Drain the beans and sprout them for two days. This step is optional, but makes them easier to digest. Just rinse them out twice a day and leave them to digest themselves a little.  They are done when you see little tails on some of the beans.

3.  Put the beans, tomatoes, diced carrots, diced onion, diced potato and diced garlic in the crockpot with the bay leaf and a teaspoon of salt. Add about a quart of water.  Cook this on high for 8 hours or until the beans are soft. (Note: If you want really soft beans and live at altitude, try pressure cooking them first).

4.  Add the orzo, olive oil, basil and oregano when you get home. Remove the bay leaf. Cook for another 30 minutes.

5.  Serve.  The recipe makes about five hearty servings.

The total cost of the entire pot?  $3.04.  Now, granted, I spent a little less because I had some of the ingredients around and this doesn’t take into account the cost of my labor, gardening supplies or energy to can; but even if you bought a can of tomatoes and some garlic, it’s still a lot cheaper than $15 to feed five people ($30 if they’re really hungry!).

By the way, I made this recipe by finding the ingredients listed on the back of the soup can.  It also listed peas and celery, but some members of the Homestead household have allergies (and some don’t like celery).

The moral of the story is this: A little time, a little know-how and the ingredients on the back of the can go a long way…

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©Hungry Chicken Homestead 2015

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