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Italian Bean Soup

1 cup dry Great Northern beans
1 cup dry red beans or pinto beans
4 cups water
1 medium onion -- chopped
2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules
2 cloves garlic -- minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning -- crushed
1/4 teaspoon pepper
28 ounces tomatoes, canned -- cut up
9 ounces frozen Italian green beans or cut green beans -- thawed
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning -- crushed
12 slices baguette-style French bread -- 1/2" thick


Rinse dry beans. In a Dutch oven combine rinsed beans and 5 cups cold water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer or 10 minutes. Remove from heat. cover and let stand about 1 hour. Drain and rinse beans.

In a 3 1/2- to 6-quart slow cooker combine beans, the 4 cups fresh water, onion, bouillon granules, garlic, the 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, and the pepper.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 11 to 13 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours or until beans are almost tender. If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir undrained tomatoes and thawed green beans into soup. Cover and cook about 30 minutes more on high-heat setting or until beans are tender.

Meanwhile, stir together margarine or butter, garlic powder, and the 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Spread on 1 side of each bread slice. Place bread, margarine side up, on the unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4" to 5" from the heat for 1 minute to 2 minutes or until crisp and light brown. To serve, ladle soup into bowls. Float 2 pieces of herb toast on each serving, ladle soup into bowls. Float 2 pieces of herb toast on each serving. Serve immediately.

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