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Take it Slow

A new Southern cookbook serves up 365 days worth of scrumptious slow-cooker recipes.

Back on Feb. 2, we were all hoping Punxsutawney Phil would give us a forecast of spring. Unfortunately, the groundhog foreshadowed six more weeks of winter. While we’re bummed we’ll have to hold out a little bit longer for sunny days and margs by the pool, staying cozy inside with a bowl of warm soup is in our future for a while longer. But homemade comfort food doesn’t have to mean slaving over a stove: Enter The Southern Slow Cooker Bible: 365 Easy and Delicious Down-Home Recipes ($25, Thomas Nelson). Out last month, author Tammy Algood’s fourth cookbook effortlessly pairs Southern flavor with the convenience of a slow cooker. “I like to think of [the appliance] as wrapping a warm blanket around your dinner ingredients,” Algood says. In this recipe, garbanzo beans prove their worth (they’re good for more than just hummus!), and loads of fresh spinach add vitamins. Check out the book for many other recipes, including entire chapters dedicated to berries, chocolate, cornbread, mac and cheese, potatoes and more. Books-A-Million; Barnes & Noble

Garbanzo Bean and Spinach Soup
Makes 6 servings

1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 15-oz. cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tsp. dried basil
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1 16-oz. package fresh baby spinach
Shaved Parmesan cheese

In a lightly greased medium slow cooker, place the onions, garlic, stock, beans, tomatoes, basil, cumin, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Add the spinach; cover; and cook 1 hour longer. Serve warm with a garnish of shaved Parmesan.

Garbanzo Bean and Spinach Soup

For variation, add 1⁄2 cup of ditalini pasta to the soup 30 minutes before serving.