Rustic Tomato Basil with Sausage and Shells (Slow Cooker Recipe). I love the idea of adding pasta to my favorite slow cooker soup recipes, but most times I would not add any for fear of overcooked pasta. An easy way to prevent this is to cook your pasta separate, according to the package directions. Once cooked, drain and rinse in cold water and drizzle generously with olive oil. It will keep it shape and texture until you are ready to add it to your recipes. And a little pasta goes a long way. Just one cup of uncooked mini shells was enough for this entire slow cooker recipe. This soup recipe was inspired by my fresh bruschetta that I enjoy all summer long. Fresh basil, tomatoes and garlic spiced up with crushed red pepper flakes. And don’t forget the balsamic vinegar that works well in soups, stews and marinades as well as the popular dressings. I use more canned tomato products during the cold weather months when fresh tomatoes are too expensive. As long as you cook them long enough, the results will be delicious!
1 pound hot Italian turkey sausage, out of the casings
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced finely
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
3 fresh roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup fire roasted red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes, diced
8 oz can tomato sauce
6 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup uncooked mini shells
1. Add the sausage to crock pot and break into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon. Add all of the remaining ingredients, minus the pasta shells. Turn slow cooker on high and cook for 4 hours or cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
2. While soup is cooking, cookt the pasta according to package. Drain, rinse with cold water and drizzle with olive oil until ready to use.
3. Once soup has cooked for 4 hours, if serving right away, ladle in some of the cooked pasta to the bowl, then add soup on top. If serving later, let soup cool slightly before adding the cooked pasta. Stir gently to mix. Serve with toasted crostini slices, shaved parmesan and red pepper flakes. Yields 6 servings.