Minestrone Soup – The Real Food Dietitians

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Winter isn’t over yet! Cozy up with a bowl of this (life-changing) Minestrone Soup to ward off the chill while you get your veggie fill.

I fell in love in college.

With homemade minestrone soup, that is. Up until then, I liked it, but had really only had it in a restaurant a few times and more often than not it was from a can. So basically, I’d only had the overly salted and/or slightly metallic versions of this glorious, vegetable-filled, Italian soup until I discovered a cookbook that changed my cooking life forever. And made me fall head-over-heels for real minestrone soup made in my own kitchen.

The cookbook that forever changed me.

I dabbled with vegetarianism off and on during my college years. Somewhat for health reasons, but mostly because I was too broke most of the time to afford meat that didn’t come in a can or as pale, greasy hot dogs or wafer-thin, pressed deli meat. And I have to admit that even as a dietetics major I wasn’t the best vegetarian. Sure, I ate plenty of veggies and iceberg lettuce as salads with fat-free dressing and probably more bean burritos than I care to count, but it wasn’t until my best friend introduced me to the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen that I really got it.

My culinary world was turned upside down by this now classic vegetarian cookbook. There were so many vegetables, prepared in so many delicious and exotic ways. Things I’d never tasted during my midwestern upbringing. I don’t recall which recipe I tried first, but I do remember working my way through the book, dog-earing my favorites and on several occasions splattering the pages with a sauce or my beloved minestrone soup as I precariously balanced the book on a postage stamp of a countertop in my tiny apartment kitchen.

So the vegetarian thing didn’t really stick. It wasn’t for me. I just felt (and still feel) better eating some quality meat, poultry, and fish on a regular basis, but I still love my vegetables. And for those times when I do want a vegetarian meal, I reach for that tattered old cookbook which remains one of my go-to books for simple, flavorful recipes.

Just 10 ingredients

That is if you don’t count the olive oil, salt or pepper that you already have on hand.

As I mentioned earlier, this minestrone recipe is an adaptation of the original Minestrone Soup recipe found in The Moosewood Cookbook (now celebrating its 40th anniversary). And although it was already simple and delicious, I’ve increased the tomatoes and replaced the bell pepper with mushrooms because the mushrooms lend a meatier texture to the soup and in the winter, organic bell peppers can be really pricey.

P.S. Don’t forget the cheese.

If you’re looking for a hearty plant-based meal, this minestrone soup fits the bill. But feel free to dress it up with a hefty sprinkle of salty, savory parmesan cheese to take it to the next level.

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Let’s Get Cookin’

Minestrone Soup

A rich, hearty soup made with fresh vegetables, beans, and just a few spices.

  • Author: The Real Food Dietitians
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 40 mins
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Soups & Stews

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil or avocado oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 7 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 large celery rib, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano (such as Simply Organic
  • 1 tsp. dried basil (such as Simply Organic
  • ½ tsp. salt + more to taste
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper + more to taste
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (14-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (such as Eden Organic or Westbrae Naturals)
  • 1 cup (about 4 ounces) dried gluten-free pasta of choice, cooked al dente
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  2. Add celery, carrot, mushrooms, oregano, basil and salt and pepper.
  3. Reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add zucchini, crushed tomatoes, water, and beans. Increase heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer an additional 15 minutes or until carrots and celery are tender.
  5. While the soup is simmering, bring a pot of water to a boil. When water boils, add pasta and cook according to directions until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta and set aside until ready to add to soup.*
  6. Remove from heat, stir in chopped parsley. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Stir cooked pasta into hot soup and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.
  7. Serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

*For best results, stir cooked pasta into soup just before serving rather than adding it to the pot of soup to prevent pasta from becoming mushy. 

Notes

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Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6 recipe
  • Calories: 230
  • Sugar: 2g
  • Sodium: 207mg
  • Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 37g
  • Fiber: 12g
  • Protein: 11g

Which cookbook was the most influential in your health or culinary life? Start the conversation in the comments below – we want to know!

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