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Hope everybody’s 2014 has started out to be a good one. If you are like me and most people, the new year brings the same yearly promise to get healthy, eat healthy, feel healthy, be healthy. I don’t know why we tend to let go of our sensibilities towards the end of each year, but around here we did just that. Had such a good time being bad though, and in the back of my mind I’m telling myself that there’s a good chance I’ll do the same thing next year. I hope that I reach some goals and see some changes between now and then. We’ve started towards that place and it feels good.

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to reach your nutrition goals is to eat soup. Chock full of the good stuff and so comforting on a cold day, a big pot of soup is just the ticket. There’s something therapeutic about standing in the kitchen and chopping a big pile of vegetables, choosing a few spices and flavorings, and then creating the magical potion that is – homemade soup. It’s intoxicating. It’s good for you. It tastes nothing like the stuff that comes in a can. Nothing.

The best thing? Tastes even better the second day after the flavors have had time to get to know each other. If you make a big enough pot, you can freeze a few portions and reward yourself on those days that standing in the kitchen is the last thing you want to do. Win-win.

This soup is one of those that lets you decide what goes in it. One of those recipes that you will tweak according to your own mood and desires. Want to throw in some pasta? Go for it. A few beans? Kale? Yeah. Go right ahead. The veggies cook quickly, so after you get all the chopping done, the soup comes together very fast. Don’t worry about chopping everything all same-size perfect. Let it be rustic. It tastes better that way.

In this pot of soup I added potatoes instead of pasta, because that’s what my husband asked for. Sometimes I give him a choice. He likes that. I threw in a bit of cabbage. A few white beans. Olive oil. A little butter. I also added quite a bit of flavor. I tossed in some dried thyme from my herb garden. Some oregano. Some Italian seasoning. Garlic, of course. To make it really special I added pizza seasoning. Yes, that. It’s my new go-to thing. I add it to anything Italian-y. Buy yourself the good stuff though, none of that mediocre grocery store stuff. You’ll thank me.

Make this soup just like me, or however like you like it. Either way, it will be just right. Just remember to breathe. You’ll thank me for that, too. Smells like heaven.

Note: As the soup simmers, the olive oil and butter will float on the top. Be sure and stir before serving so that the fats are distributed throughout each serving.

 

Bowl of Minestroni

 

Minestrone

2 tbsp. butter

3-4 tbsp. olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 red pepper, chopped

1 zucchini, seeded and chopped

4 ribs of celery, sliced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

5 carrots, chopped or sliced

1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes, chopped or pureed

5 small potatoes, peeled & sliced OR 1-2 cups cooked pasta of your choice

6 cups water

4 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp. dried thyme, crushed

1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed

1 – 2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. pizza seasoning

One Bay Leaf

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sugar, 1/2 to 1 tsp. (to cut acidity of tomatoes)

Handful or 2 of shredded cabbage, optional (add to pot during last 15 minutes of cooking)

1/2 to 1 cup White beans – cannellini, Great Northern, Navy, or white kidney (canned & rinsed OR fresh cooked, added during last 15 minutes of cooking)

Handful of chopped Italian parsley (add to pot during last 15 min. of cooking)

Minestrone Veggies

Wash all vegetables. Chop. Mince garlic and set aside.

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Place canned tomatoes in blender and pulse once. Set aside.

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Melt butter in large soup pot. Add olive oil.

Add the chopped onion, celery, green and red pepper, and zucchini to pan. Cook and stir until onion is almost translucent. Make a well in the center of vegetables and add minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds or until garlic is fragrant. Pour in the pureed tomatoes. Stir. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and broth. Add carrots. Stir.

Add spices and seasonings to pot. Add salt, pepper, bay leaf and sugar. Stir.

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Bring to a boil and then lower heat to low or simmer.

Cook, stirring often, for 15 minutes then add the potatoes, if using. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are tender.

If using pasta instead of potatoes, add cooked pasta after the carrots are tender.

Add bean and chopped Italian parsley. Cook and stir to heat the beans. Remove bay leaf.

Minestrone

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