Minestrone soup is one of those favorite dishes that always seems too complicated to make, right? Well, now thanks to moms best friend the crock pot, minestrone soup is simple and easy (two words that are also moms best friend). Since the ingredients need to sit in the slow cooker for seven to nine hours, we suggest making this in the morning before heading out the door. It’s not only delicious, but your kids will get a solid serving of vegetables, which we all know isn’t easy to sneak into their diet.

1 medium yellow summer squash, cut lengthwise in half, then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch slices (1 cup)
1 medium bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
1 cup snap pea pods
1/3 cup chopped onion
4 cups water
1 jar (25 1/2 ounces) marinara sauce
1 can (15 to 16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups uncooked rotini pasta (4 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
shredded parmesan cheese, if desired

1. Mix squash, carrots, bell pepper, pea pods, onion, water, marinara sauce and beans in 3 1/2 to 6 quart slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 7 to 9 hours (or high heat setting 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours) or until vegetables are tender.

3. Stir in pasta, sugar, salt and pepper.

4. Cover and cook on high heat setting 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is tender. Sprinkle each serving with cheese, if desired.

recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook.