Friday, April 12, 2013

RECIPE BOOK: Hearty Minestrone Soup

One of this year's resolutions was to compile a list of recipes to keep on hand.  I made that resolution because I am very much a creature of habit.  If I have three meals that are easy to make and taste good, I'll make those for the next two months and nothing else.  Eventually I'll get sick of one of them and branch out to something new.  After I find a replacement, I'm good for another two months.  As you see the pattern, I don't branch out that often and also don't introduce a wide variety in my diet.  The worst part though, is that I would completely forget about what I USED TO make when it came time to switch something up.  So it was time to see about slowly changing that.

In February I tried a number of new plant-based protein options which helped kick start this part of my resolution.  I tried Tofu, Tempeh, Falafel, and black beans.  But thanks to a member at the gym, I finally got a real start on the recipes.

A member at my gym had made a batch of Minestrone soup and brought me some once her kids wouldn't eat it anymore.  I admit I was skeptical because I don't really like Minestrone soup, but I thanked her and took it home.  Somewhere about a week later I was short on food having not made it to the grocery store, so I opted to give the soup a try.  OMG!!!  It was great!  The next thing I knew, she gave me the recipe and I tried it myself.

Right from the start, the original recipe, which comes from Barefoot Contessa's book Foolproof, was a success.  I have since made a couple changes in order to make it a bit more healthy and more to my own taste.  

Here is my version:

Hearty Minestrone Soup


1 large yellow onion
2 carrots, diced (~ 1-1.5 cup)
3 celery stalks (~ 1-1.5 cup)
2.5 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp fresh basil, chopped
28 oz. can of whole, peeled roma tomatoes
4 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Black pepper
15 oz. can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
4-8 oz. fresh baby spinach


Heat a large pot over low to medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, squash, garlic, thyme and basil and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the wine and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, stock, the bay leaf, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender.
In the meantime, drain and rinse the beans. 

Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans and heat through. The soup should be quite thick but if it’s too thick, add more stock. Add the spinach and cook just until the leaves are wilted; approximately 1-2 minutes.  Taste test and add seasonings accordingly.  

Let soup sit for 15-20 minutes to let seasonings and flavors to even out.  Reheat if necessary before serving.

  • Adding the carrots to the pot first for 5-10 minutes can help soften them more equally.
  • Use of tomato puree or tomato sauce increases the tomato flavor of the soup.  


1.  Do you have any good recipes up your sleeve?
I'm all ears for new recipes!

2.  Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a food you thought you disliked?  If so, do share!

3.  How is your hump day going so far?
It's recovery day for me, so it has been a very "relaxing" day (aka, self-massage, yoga, stretching, repeat!).

Dream.  Believe.  Achieve. 

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