GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

October 17, 2012

Slow cooker recipes: Ribollita, applesauce

In the past couple of weeks, I have received a few requests for some meals that can be made in a slow cooker. Slow cookers are often called by one maker’s name — Crock-Pot— because they have crockery inserts.

Here I have given you a hearty soup that is colorful and fresh-tasting. In Italy this is known as Ribollita, and is almost a staple in many Italian homes.

I love making soups in a slow cooker due to the low heat and long period of cooking time. Ingredients get to blend together and every bit of flavor comes out of whatever you are making.

We all like the convenience of starting our meal in the morning, going about our day, and when ready to put the evening meal on, it’s cooked, and usually has the house smelling delightful.

You can make some good desserts in your slow cooker as well; I have seen bread pudding done and some delicious curried almonds. I offer this recipe for applesauce made in a slow cooker .

For me, my Crock-Pot has gone from a convenience to a treasured kitchen necessity, year-round.

You will find yourself making this soup often this winter; no browning, just throw everything in the Crock-Pot.

Italian Bread Soup

Serves 4 or 5

Equipment: 4 quart slow cooker

Ingredients:

1/2 large onion

1 large carrot

2 ribs celery

2 cloves garlic

1/2 pound dried navy beans (about 1 1/4 cups)

2 quarts vegetable stock or water

1 bay leaf

1 sprig dried or fresh rosemary

1 large head escarole, stemmed and chopped coarsely (may substitute kale or spinach)

2 thick slices (day old) crusty Italian bread (ciabatta or panella good), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 4 cups)

2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, stemmed and chopped

salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarsely chop onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and place in slow cooker. Add beans, stock, bay leaf, and rosemary and cook, covered, on low setting for 5 hours, until the beans are tender. Add escarole, bread cubes, tomatoes, and parsley, and stir gently to mix greens into liquid. Cover the cooker, put on high setting, and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until greens aretender and soup hot.

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