January 2nd Minestrone

Raise your hand if you’ve vowed to be healthier in 2014.

I stopped making diets my New Year’s resolution a while back. But I still like to shed the excess of the holidays and turn over a new leaf on January 1.

Which is why I made this soup to eat for lunch on January 2nd. It’s healthy and hearty, and perfect to kick off a return to eating better.

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This minestrone is seriously loaded with all the ingredients like cannellini beans, greens, tomatoes, carrots and garlic. There is one thing missing, however… Pasta. The Hubs and I are going to try to kick start healthier eating after New Year’s by cutting out simple starches like white bread, pasta, potatoes and sugar for two weeks. Of course, it’s okay to eat those things in moderation, and we generally do, but we’re just trying to start the first couple weeks strong. This soup is extra full of veggies for fiber and vitamins, and beans for protein and to keep you feeling full.

Even if I weren’t making this with an eye toward clean eating, I would still eat it. I heart vegetables and this soup is loaded!

January 2nd Minestrone (makes 8 servings)

  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 quart of tomato halves and their juice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into bean-size pieces
  • 1 Tb extra virgin olive oil
  • 1  medium onion, diced
  • 2 cans beans such as cannellini, kidney or garbanzo
  • half a bunch of kale (about 4 cups chopped)
  • 2 heaping Tb of tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp of dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • shredded parmesan for serving

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and carrots, and stir. Cook for a few minutes until the onion begins to turn translucent and soft. Stir often to keep the garlic from burning. Add the stock, wine and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add the tomatoes and beans. Bring to a simmer and add the kale. Stir well to make sure the kale is covered. Add the basil and thyme. Season with salt and pepper (if you use store bought stock, you may want to omit the salt, just taste it and see if it needs any). Simmer gently over medium low heat for 30 minutes. Check to see if the beans and carrots have softened a bit, and the kale has wilted. If the carrots are still a little firm, simmer 10-15 minutes more, or until softened. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and a piece of crusty bread (or not if you’re not eating white bread…).

If you wanted more traditional minestrone, you could substitute a cup of ditalini, orrechietti or small macaroni for one can of the beans. I’m sure there are many opinions about how to use pasta in soup. Here’s my take. Sometimes I cook it separately then add it to the soup when the soup is done. Even if there are leftovers, the pasta seems to hold up pretty well. Sometimes when I’ve tried to cook the pasta in the soup it is tricky to get done perfectly. You can add the pasta when you add the tomatoes and beans, and cook the soup until the pasta is al dente. I think if you were going to freeze some of this soup right away, that would be okay to cook the pasta that way. If you are going to leave the pot on the stove on low while you eat and maybe have some seconds later, you’ll end up with mushy noodles. Especially after the leftovers are put in the fridge.Make sure you cool the soup down as quickly as possible so the pasta doesn’t continue to cook.

At any rate, this is a great soup for lunch on cold winter days. According to my Lose It! app, each serving is 181 calories.

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