Canned soup gets a lot of flack, but there’s no denying that some varieties are legitimately delicious. There’s a certain nostalgic comfort that comes from eating a casserole made with cream-of-whatever soup, and cracking open a can of something brothy and savory when it’s cold out is sometimes just what we need. But most of the time, the canned stuff just won’t cut it, and honestly, homemade versions of canned soups are usually easier to make than you think. They’re more delicious, too. Giada De Laurentiis’ slow-cooker Italian wedding soup is proof.

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As far as canned soups go, we’ve always gravitated to Italian wedding soup. It’s got a nice, light broth, tiny tender meatballs, enough pasta to fill us up, and some greens here and there to give the illusion of health. But homemade Italian wedding soup takes things to a totally new level of tasty.

De Laurentiis has made her homemade slow-cooker Italian wedding soup as easy as possible.

First, you add storebought low-sodium chicken stock to your slow cooker or multi cooker along with a bay leaf.

Then, you make your meatballs. De Laurentiis makes hers with ground sirloin, an egg, spices, and a half cup of grated Parmesan, and the best part? She doesn’t make you cook them in a separate pan or skillet. Nope, you just drop the mini meatballs into the hot broth, then slow-cook them on high for four hours.

After those four hours are up, you add short pasta, like ditalini, to the broth, and slow cook for an additional half hour, until the pasta is tender.

Last but not least, stir in a handful of roughly chopped baby spinach. It wilts as soon as it hits the broth, so you don’t need to cook it any longer. Just ladle the soup into your bowl and garnish with some more grated Parm (red pepper flakes would be tasty here, too).

Is this slow-cooker Italian wedding soup slightly harder to make than cracking open a can? Only marginally! It tastes way better, too. If you really want to make sure you can have a bowl of your favorite comforting soup at a moment’s notice, just fill a few containers with this recipe and freeze them. You’ll be able to microwave yourself a bowl in just a few minutes, and the depth of flavor in the broth and homemade meatballs will more than satisfy your nostalgic canned soup cravings.

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