Crockpot Winter Minestrone with Kale

Hello Friends!



It’s 8:30pm and my eyelids are starting to feel heavy, but I’ve got about 5 half written posts (including my bucket list) that I’d love to share with you this week.  Like mostly everyone else, I’m attempting to start the year off healthy.


It’s been hard to nail down an exercise schedule these past few weeks (with holidays and record breaking freezing temperatures and all), but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a plan in my head.




Last Monday, was supposed to be my first training session with a personal trainer.  I’ve had it on the calendar for a month, and I was really looking forward to it.  Between sickness and weather, we cancelled, which I think was the right decision.  I couldn’t figure out how I would exercise on Monday and then head back into the frozen tundra my car to drive home without getting chills.  We finally got started today, which will be great as I have been slacking on the strength training.  Our first meeting involved some tests (body fat) and measures (yuck!) along with talking about my goals.  Which are…to tone up, fit into my jeans comfortably, and feel comfortable and in a bathing suit.  She complemented me on my legs and says that we’ll attack my arms and core each week.  Yup, that sounds about right!




Also on the agenda for last Monday that got cancelled and rescheduled for today was the BOY and my first day of tennis lessons at the park district.  The timing of this worked out well since the BOY was still sick and our cars questionable.  I really had no idea what to expect. I think I took one tennis lesson around age 7, and my skills are lacking to say the least.  The best part was that everyone else in the class had to move to another day, so the adult beginner class consists of ME and the BOY only!  Our pro is really nice and we had a lot of fun tonight.  The BOY was sweating, and we are hoping to find another day that we can practice before our next lesson.




On tomorrow’s agenda…running at the track.  After a week of mostly inactivity, it feels good to get back into my groove.  And my meal planning groove.  I had a busy day today, so I was actually at the grocery store at 9am.  Let me tell you…the place is empty at that hour.  Then came home and quickly put minestrone in the crockpot before running off to my training session.




This day went on forever, so it wasn’t until 5:40 when I walked in the door to change for tennis that I asked the BOY to turn the crockpot down to ‘warm’ and walked back out the door at 5:46 without even looking at my soup.  Note: the house smelled like Italian food when I walked in, which was delicious!




What I learned about this long day of crockpot cooking is that 10 hours is way too long for small noodles (like shells) to be in your crockpot.  That being said, my soup is not lacking at all and I reflected this change in the recipe written below.  This soup is jam packed with hearty veggies and healthy superfoods.  I can’t wait to dig in for lunch tomorrow!




Meal Planning 1/13/14

Monday: Tilapia with Pear and Avocado Salad


Tuesday: Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans


Wednesday: Chipotle Turkey Meatloaf


Thursday: Leftovers


Friday: TBD but probably eating out?!



How have you been exercising this winter?



Winter Minestrone with Kale

Adapted from Crave



Good olive oil

3 chicken sausages, sliced (I used a tomato basil flavor)

1 chopped yellow onions

2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)

2 cups (1/2-inch) diced celery (3 stalks)

2 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) diced peeled butternut squash

2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups cooked whole wheat small pasta

8 to 10 ounces fresh kale

2 tablespoons store-bought pesto

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving



To cook the pasta, put 1 cup of pasta into a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook according to the directions on the package, drain, and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot. Add the chicken sausage and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place the sausage, onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, and thyme in a slow cooker, sprayed with cooking spray.  Add the tomatoes, 4 cups of the chicken stock and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir well.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.  2 hours before the end, add in cooked pasta.  30 minutes before serving, add the kale ad pesto and toss with 2 big spoons (like tossing a salad). Cook just until the leaves are wilted.  Serve with parmesan cheese or more pesto.

11 thoughts on “Crockpot Winter Minestrone with Kale

  1. Tennis lessons sound fun! That’s an idea for a good workout. I’m doing a 3 month fitness challenge at the gym where my husband works, and we had to do all of the measurements and tests and stuff on Saturday…not the most fun thing I’ve done!

    Hope that the weather is FINALLY starting to at least not be horrendously cold. I couldn’t believe some of the temps I was seeing on the news out of the Chicago area.

    • I know! I couldn’t believe them either! We’ve never had cars that wouldn’t start so it was crazy! Best of luck with your challenge! I”m hoping the measurements will help get my ball rolling a bit and the tennis lessons will just be an adding evening of fun! I hope : )

  2. Training for a marathon is keeping me exercising this winter. We have had a pretty mild winter compared to almost everyone in the country!! Can’t wait to hear more about your personal training sessions! They sound great!!

    • Yes, I”m excited to really get started and start seeing some muscles. I’m having a tough time finding a race that fits into my busy spring (my brother is getting married in July) so hopefully soon which will get me out and running!!!

  3. How fun you’re working with a personal trainer! Looking forward to hearing more about what you’ll be doing! I started TRX this week with a trainer, and ouch… I’m sore! Also swimming + biking a TON 🙂

    That soup looks perfect for this polar vortex weather! I’m counting down the days until summer 😉

    • I am so sick of brushing off my car and driving 5 mph through unplowed streets : ) I finally got up early and to a strength class at my yoga studio. We did a bunch of TRX and it was awesome!

  4. I hear you about the noodles in the crock pot. We did the same thing. The soup was still good but the noodles needed to be added later. Oh well, live and learn. Your soup still looks amazing!!

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