Minestrone Soup

5 Jan

What with this stinkin’ cold and sore throat/lost voice combo I’ve been fighting for the last few days, my New Year’s resolutions have not gotten a fair chance for success.  Yesterday I decided I was well enough to take two small steps in the fight for improved health.

1.  I bundled Jackson up and we strolled the neighborhood.  I love sunny January days with temperatures in the fifties!  Will I remember these days in February when it’s twenty degrees and gray for weeks on end?  I certainly hope so…

2.  I made minestrone soup.  Oh, the triumph of a tasty food that it is also good for you!  I decided even if I can’t dive headlong into my get-fit plans, I could at least start eating wisely.

Minestrone Soup - Healthy, Filling, Easy!

I highly recommend Ellie Krieger’s recipe, featured in Better Homes and Gardens’ January 2012 edition; I couldn’t find it on their website, so I copied it for you here.  It calls for mostly staple ingredients that don’t require much prep time – both key items for me in deciding to test-run a new recipe!

If you’re thinking about skipping the Parmesan and parsley, perish the thought!  They add such a terrific little finish.  I will definitely make this soup again.  When I do, I’ll add another can of beans and will omit the rice I used.  And I might add spinach or kale; I’ve seen a lot of minestrone recipes call for these greens.

Full disclosure on my cooking methods:  I substitute freely and without shame.  Like my mother, I add about double the vegetables to any soup I make.  I like shortcuts, but I never use canned minced garlic.  I chop because it’s a great stress reliever.  What is more consoling than a nice, tidy pile of carrot sticks?

Minestrone Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ribs celery, diced (1/2 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini (about 8 oz.), diced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 cups (48 oz.) low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 28-oz. can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 14-oz. can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
1 15-oz. can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. whole grain elbow pasta (or 1/2 c. brown rice)
1/3 c. finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves

1. In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, cook and stir onion in hot oil 4 minutes or until translucent.  Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds.  Add celery and carrot.  Cook and stir 5 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften.  Add zucchini, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add the broth and the tomatoes.  Bring to boiling.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.  Add beans and pasta (if using rice, cook for 5 minutes) and cook for 10-15 minutes more or until pasta and vegetables are tender.  Top servings with cheese and parsley.

Makes 6 servings.  Each serving: 236 cal, 7 g fat, 3 mg chol, 719 mg sodium, 36 g carbs, 9 g fiber, 10 g protein.

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