Makes 10-12 servings Ideal slow cooker size: 6 quart
1lb ground beef (or ground turkey) 1 small onion, finely diced 1 cup shredded carrots(if you'd rather have chunks or diced that is fine too, I just do shredded for the kids so they don't know it's healthy :) 1 cup finely siced celery 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce 2 (15 oz) cans beef broth (or 3 cups water + 1 Tbsp beef bouillon granules)* 1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, with liquid 1 (15oz) can great northern beans, with liquid 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste, if needed 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon dried basil 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon pepper 1/2 cup apple juice 8 oz dry ditalini pasta Parmesan cheese or mozzarella, for serving Salt and pepper to taste Garlic powder, oregano, basil to taste 1. Brown ground beef in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, lightly seasoning with salt & pepper. Drain then add to a large slow cooker. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, broth, kidney beans, great northern beans, salt, oregano, basil, thyme and pepper.
2. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours, or until veggies are tender.
3. Add in apple juice. 4. When the soup has 10 minutes left to cook, cook pasta in salted boiling water until just under al dente. Drain, then add to the soup and let cook for about 5-10 more minutes.(if you add the uncooked pasta straight to the slow cooker it will get really thick so you'll have to add a lot more broth, and then adjust the seasonings. Unfortunately, it's best this time to stick with the stove top to cook the noodles.)
5. Salt and pepper to taste. Then season with garlic powder, oregano and basil, if needed. (*I also added a little more beef broth because, it got too thick)
6. Ladle into serving bowls and top with Parmesan cheese or mozzarella.
This was one of those recipes that I kept on adding stuff at the end to get just right. The apple juice sounds weird but it actually gave it a bit of flavor but you wouldn't know it was in there if no one told you! This recipe makes a TON! I gave half to my neighbor and we still had a little leftover. I liked the use of the little ditalini pasta, they were perfect. The kids ate this up happily and it is quite hearty with all the veggies, beans and the pasta. 3 1/2 stars.