Pesto Minestrone Soup Slow Cooker Recipe

Although it was bizaredly warm and we spent the day outside walking around a community farm (baby pigs couldn't possibly be any cuter), we're still smack dab in the middle of soup season.

Soup rocks.

This is a hearty (non-boring) minestrone with a funky and surprising twist: pesto. It's delicious, filling, low fat, and can be completely vegetarian/vegan if you opt for vegetable broth. 

The Ingredients.
serves 6
1 large onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1 yellow or red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound (any variety) potatoes, cut in 1-inch chunks (no need to peel)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans beans (undrained; your choice, I used black and kidney)
1 (11-ounce) container prepared pesto (or a cup or so homemade)
4 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable)
1 cup frozen peas (to add later)
1 handful baby spinach (to add later)

The Directions.

Use a 6-quart slow cooker. Put the veggies into the bottom of your slow cooker and add the entire can of tomatoes and both cans of beans. Pour in the pesto and broth. No additional seasoning is needed. Cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the vegetables have fully cooked and softened and flavors have melded completely. stir well, and add frozen peas and a handful of spinach. Cook on high for another 10-15 min or until the peas are fully hot and the spinach has wilted.

The Verdict.

I love how the pesto flavors this soup so fully---I didn't want to sprinkle on a bunch of cheese the way I sometimes do when eating soup. I first had pesto minestrone soup at an Italian restaurant on vacation--it was a starter, and I liked it better than the meal and knew I needed to make it at home.
I prefer to use spinach rather than kale in my minestrone (Adam hates kale. I can't persuade him otherwise, and have decided it's not something to fuss about) but if you'd like to use kale  (it's traditional), the directions are exactly the same.


 I have completed the very first webTV interview with Kim Demmon, of Today's Creative Blog. It took a while to figure out the software, but Kim was SO wonderfully patient, and hopefully things will continue to get easier and easier.
 Thank you for your suggestions for interviewees---I've got them all written down and plan on making my way down the list.

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments and emails about my Good Morning America appearance. I had the best time ever, and am so happy that it went smoothly on all accounts and that I'm home again with the kids.

and the laundry.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at January 15, 2011

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What they say about this article

  1. That sounds so delicious! But with that much pesto, can it really be called low-fat?

  2. Considering we got 25 inches of snow last's definitely still soup season. And it may be soup season until June considering how long it'll take all this snow to melt!

    This soup sounds amazing...and I have all the ingredients. And I may just throw in some leftover chicken I have in the fridge...why not?

  3. I've never heard of this but it sounds good! LOVE pesto! Thanks!

  4. I need to find my slow cooker! Used it for a show and haven't seen it since. I have posted some yummy recipes in the past week or so that I think would probably work in a slow cooker. Check out the soup I put up today, I think you'll love it.


  5. Wow I am totally putting this on my menu for next week!
    I made your chicken enchilada chili this week and we were so sad when it was gone. We have company coming tomorrow and I am making a double batch. I am hoping there's enough for my lunch the next day!

  6. God, you're adorable. Loved the clip. :)

    BTW your vegan chili is a staple here -- one of the few meals everyone in the house will eat, and one of the things I almost always make when we go camping (in the camper, obviously, so I can bring the crock), too.

  7. This sounds delicious, can't wait to try it. I make a fast 'fake' bean soup by just simmering a can of cannellini beans in chicken broth and then adding a few tablespoons of pesto - it's almost as good as an all day soup. Pesto is a miracle seasoning in my opinion!

  8. I just watched the GMA clip - you are adorable! I also have 3 small children and am super excited to try all of those chili's and the enchilada soup sounds GREAT!!

    Thanks for all of the great ideas.

  9. omg! i bet george stephanopoulos is absolutely adorable in person! i'd want to just eat him up!

  10. Oh my goodness. The food looks good, but you look so cute on the GMA clip. Now you're my put-together mommy idol in addition to being my food blog idol. Love the chili recipes, too. And your interview with TCB's Kim was great. Thanks for posting both.

  11. Anonymous1/16/2011

    This soup sounds terrific! Are you supposed to drain both cans of beans first or add them liquid and all?

  12. Looks awesome, thanks so much for an entire GF site!!!!

  13. Anonymous1/16/2011

    I'm so glad you shared the GMA clip with us because I missed it. And I am trying to listen to all your instructions on the chilie, but kept thinking... "you are so cute"!
    Congratulations on that apperance and your two books!!

  14. Thank you for posting because I missed it too! Aren't you such a tiny little adorable lady!! The show was great and you are too cute!

  15. Oh my hell! You are adorable!!! Thanks for sharing the clip. The recipes looked pretty good, too! ;-)

  16. Anonymous1/17/2011

    Made this tonight for dinner, it was a hit!

  17. Anonymous1/17/2011

    I made this tonight. I used a jar of Trader Joe's soup starter mix (onions, carrots, and celery.) I used frozen chopped spinach and 3 cups of stock instead of 4. It is tasty. I think it would also be good with some pasta or some sausage. We added crushed red pepper to taste.

  18. We tried your Pesto Lasagna tonight from your new cookbook--loved it! Even my picky 2 year old wanted seconds! I gave you another shout out on my blog :) -Becky Beck

  19. Anonymous1/17/2011

    Um, could this possibly be easier or more delicious? I mean, I don't know for sure that it's delicious cause I haven't made it yet, but it screams delicious so I'm sure it is:). Thank you Stephanie!!!

  20. Reading this is making me hungry - I'll definitely have to try it. Thank you.

  21. My family will be trying this soup very soon. RT GMA, yay you! It is nice to know that all of those demonstration speeches we were subjected to in school can actually be applied in real life. XD

  22. Just found your site off of the Twitter Hop. I am your newest follower. I love to use my slow cooker but have trouble finding a variety for my family. You are my new favorite blog!!!!


  23. It's simmering now. Smells heavenly!

  24. I just finished eating a bowl of this for dinner tonight with some great bread. I only did a 1/2 recipe in the 4 qt. It was good - different than I thought. The only thing I'd change next time is to try and remove some of the oil from the pesto or make my own.

  25. Anonymous1/18/2011

    Could this possibly be easier? What a fab recipe Stephanie! This is definitely going on the queue! My hubs will love it - right up his culinary alley!

  26. Love your outfit on GMA and LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I found it and fell in love with it a few weeks ago. I blogged about it today ( and have sent the link to your site to lots of friends and family! Some of my husband's single friends were even convinced to buy a crock-pot after trying some of your recipes :) You're awesome!

  27. Anonymous1/19/2011

    I just wrote my post for your book giveaway (Allison at Hyperion is so nice!) and every time I linked to your blog I saw this photo. It's making me drool, I tell ya! You are a genius!

    And here is the link if any of y'all want a chance to win the book (hope it's okay to do this)

    I started a food blog ( and I am just so incredibly inspired by you. Keep up the good work!

  28. Love Minestrone soup - & this sounds divine! & being GF, I appreciate the absence of noodles!
    I think I'd reserve most of the pesto to add at the end - the Italian Restaurant here in McMinnville (Nick's - world famous!) will bring a little bowl of 'fresh' pesto to the table if you request it - so nice to just add a dollop then! (I might put some dried basil in while it was cooking)
    A couple of years ago I saw a post from 'Fat of the Land' on making pesto with nettles - yumm!!! I have access to fresh nettles (& have a few in pots on the porch) a GREAT way to make pesto in the spring - & chock full of goodies!! Adding some dried nettles to this Minestrone would be great, too!

  29. Anonymous4/08/2011

    I came cross your recipe while searching for a Minestrone soup recipe. This was my first time cooking Minestrone soup and I must say it is delicious! I haven't had much luck since I started using my slow-cooker but this was my first successful attempt. Even my husband enjoyed it. It's so healthy,simple, and yummy. It beats buying the canned variety and it tastes even better. I just changed the potatoes to zucchinis and added chickpeas along with Cannellini beans. I agree with one of the commenter above, I had to skim off some of the oil from the pesto sauce. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  30. Anonymous1/31/2012

    I made it last week. It's good, but I have to add some salt just before eating.

    I never add extra salt to my foods or soups. This is one of the few times I've had to.

    Or, maybe it just feels like its missing something. I wouldn't call it bland, but it felt like it was missing something that stood out. Are there any suggestions or comments, did anyone else feel this way?

    I think this is the first vegetable soup I've made, so overall it was pretty good, just wondering if there's something I could add other than salt or pepper to enhance it a bit.