Minestrone Soup

 - Kelly Terrell, Gothenburg, NE

“Our family loves soup.  We make a lot of soup in one sitting and then freeze it and warm it up throughout the entire year.  Minestrone is one of our favorites!”    


  • 2 1/2 pounds ground beef 
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped 
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 6 stalks celery, thinly sliced 
  • 3 cups shredded carrots 
  • 9 cups low-sodium beef stock 
  • 24 ounces strained tomatoes 
  • 1 (18 ounce) jar diced tomatoes 
  • 3 tablespoons white vinegar 
  • 3 tablespoons Italian seasoning 
  • 1 tablespoon salt 
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper 
  • 1/2 pound yellow squash, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons 
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil for both the soup and garnish 
  • Fresh grated parmesan for serving


  1. Brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat with some of the celery and onions, 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a slow cooker, leaving the fat in the pan.
  2. Add the remaining celery, onions and carrots to the pan and sauté over medium heat for approximately ten minutes, until the vegetables are slightly tender. Drain and add the vegetables to the slow cooker.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients (including the rest of the salt and Italian seasoning that wasn't used when browning the meat), except the squash and basil. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 8 hours. 
  4. Add the squash and basil (add approximately 3/4 cup of the fresh basil and save the rest for garnishing on top when serving) during the last 30 minutes if cooking on high or 1 hour if cooking on low.
  5. Serve with fresh basil and fresh grated parmesan cheese on top.