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During cold weather hearty soups and stews are like a magnet - we are drawn to them for their comfort and warmth. They are nearly the perfect food for seniors who may not have a robust appetite. Soups and stews can be packed full of vegetables, beans and protein and versatile recipes mean that they can be adjusted to meet the nutritional and dietary needs of your senior. They can be made ahead of time and frozen in individual servings which is a benefit for busy caregivers. If you notice that your loved one may not be eating well, preparing soup and stews and leaving them in the refrigerator may encourage him or her to eat. Minestrone soup is close to a complete meal. It’s full of nutritious vegetables and depending upon the dietary tolerances of your loved one, it can include any number of beans and legumes like chickpeas and lentils. You can also add healthy ingredients including pre-cooked chicken.

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup

Ingredients
  • 1 medium yellow onion (peeled, finely chopped)
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 2 stalks celery sliced
  • 1 cup chopped green beans (trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can no salt added kidney beans (drained) (optional according to tolerance for beans)
  • 1.5 cups no-sodium, or, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 zucchini (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup chopped spinach or kale
  • 1 cup whole wheat small pasta
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  • Prepare the vegetables: peel and chop the onion, carrots, celery; cut green beans into 1-inch pieces.
  • Add all the chopped vegetables into the bowl of 4 quarts or larger slow cooker. Stir in garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Top vegetables with canned tomatoes, kidney beans, chicken broth, and bay leaves. Do not stir(This assures the vegetables which need the most cooking time are closest to the heat source of the slow cooker.) Cover with lid and cook 5 hours on high or 10 hours on low.
  • Thirty minutes before serving, use tongs to remove bay leaves, discarding them. Stir soup with a spoon. Finely chop zucchini and add to the slow cooker bowl, along with the spinach. Cover and let cook on high heat, if not already on the setting.
  • Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add oil into pasta so it doesn't stick together. When the soup is finished cooking, ladle into bowls, topping with a few spoonfuls of pasta and (optional) parsley.
If you find it difficult to prepare meals for your loved one, call on Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are trained in nutrition and healthy cooking techniques through our Home Care Assistance University. They can do the grocery shopping and prepare meals for the senior in your care. Our caregivers are also trained to assist your loved one in cooking meals. We know that good nutrition can maximize health for your senior loved one. Companionship and interaction while cooking is a positive activity for mental, physical and emotional health.
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