Italian Vegetable Soup

Italian Vegetable soup with freshly grated parmesan.

Italian Vegetable Soup    Serves 4

This soup resembles a vegetable and bean minestrone but without the pasta typically used in a minestrone.

But I promise you won’t miss the pasta. There is so much flavor and texture from all the diced vegetables, herbs and beans. And for even more flavor, garnish each serving with freshly grated parmesan.

One of the most important ingredients in a minestrone is beans. In this recipe I use canned beans for the convenience. But feel free to prepare dried beans and then use those in the soup. In Italy, for genuine minestrone, the borlotti beans are the beans to use. The borlotti bean is a variety of common bean first bred in Colombia as the Cargamanto bean, which you can buy here on Amazon: cargamanto. It is also known as the cranberry bean that you can buy here on Amazon: cranberry bean

The vegetables for minestrone should be diced. Dicing is similar to chopping, except dicing is always finely chopped, consistent in size, and neat in appearance. It’s the precision of the cut that distinguishes dicing from chopping. My dicing skills (and patience) aren’t great so I resort to using this vegetable chopper tool. The chopper works best if you cut the vegetables into pieces and then put the pieces in it.          Look how beautiful these vegetables are!

Minestrone is historically made with whatever fresh vegetables that an Italian cook happened to have on hand so feel free to experiment with your own vegetables additions. I recently found myself without the celery and zucchini in this recipe. Instead, I chopped some green cabbage and it was delicious.

If you want to reduce the amount of sodium, use reduced-sodium broth and reduced-sodium canned tomatoes and omit the parmesan.

Kids might enjoy this more if you add meatballs. I sometimes will add 5 Costco Meatballs to each bowl. This adds an additional 230 calories, 18 grams of fat, 12 grams of protein and 520 mg sodium.

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried or 1 Tablespoon dried fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tsp dried or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped sage leaves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 small zucchini, diced

32 ounces low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (14/5 ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes and juice

1 (15 ounce) can low sodium cannellini or blacker pinto beans

3 cups chopped baby spinach leaves

1/3 cup grated fresh parmesan, optional

  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, sage, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. If your vegetables are diced to bigger than a 1/4 inch dice, cook a little longer until the vegetables are tender.
  3. While the vegetables are cooking, in a small bowl mash half of the beans with the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  4. Add the zucchini, broth and tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes.
  5. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach leaves and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes more.
  6. Serve topped with Parmesan, if desired.
    Nutrition Facts
    Servings 4.0
    Amount Per Serving
    calories 265
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 6 g 9 %
    Saturated Fat 0 g 2 %
    Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
    Trans Fat 0 g
    Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
    Sodium 1397 mg 58 %
    Potassium 1120 mg 32 %
    Total Carbohydrate 36 g 12 %
    Dietary Fiber 11 g 46 %
    Sugars 11 g
    Protein 15 g 30 %
    Vitamin A 119 %
    Vitamin C 57 %
    Calcium 36 %
    Iron 27 %
    * The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
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Roasted Cauliflower, Quinoa and Spicy Walnuts

I discovered this DELICIOUS combo when I was combining leftovers for a lunch.

I had leftover Garlic Lemon Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower, cooked quinoa, and some of the toasted spiced walnuts from this Arugula, Chickpea, Walnut, Fig, Goat Cheese salad recipe.  Mixed them together in a bowl and heated in the microwave. One bite is all it took to realize I had to turn this into a “recipe” and recreate it time and time again!

Toasted Spiced Walnuts

  • 1 cup walnut halves, lightly chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp canola or avocado oil (not extra virgin because it has a lower smoke point)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (The first time you make them I suggest this much. If you like more spice, add more next time)
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Toss together walnuts, oil, cayenne, and salt on a small baking sheet. Bake until golden, about 8 minutes. Check on them every couple minutes to stir and to make sure they do not burn. Remove from oven, and set aside. After they have cooled well, you can store them covered.

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Easy Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole

This delicious recipe will soon become a favorite go-to recipe. This versatile dish can be used as a side dish or as a meatless main dish. Because there are two complementary plant protein sources, lentils and brown rice, this provides complete protein. 

Served as a lunch on top of chopped fresh spinach.

 

Change it up as you want by adding various vegetables. Mushrooms and sliced olives also work well. Want it more spicy? Add some red pepper flakes or sriracha. And it is so easy to make! Just mix everything right in the baking dish, cover with foil and let it bake while you prep the rest of your meal. 

Want to make it vegan? Simply use vegetable broth and omit the cheese.

Brown Rice and Lentil Casserole

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup chopped onion or bell pepper or mix of both
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar, reduced fat cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients except the cheese in a 11 x 7 or 13 x 9 glass baking dish.
  3. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 70 minutes.
  4. Then remove the foil, top with cheese, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
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