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Monday, March 3, 2014

Minestrone soup -- easy, delicious and inexpensive -- This is the food I eat!

Sorry to have been away so long! Got caught up in my life and just getting a lot of things done. So, what have I been doing? Mostly I've been revamping old family favorite recipes and trying to make them healthier.

I'm back to eating food again, but I eat such small amounts. Yesterday I made homemade minestrone but I skipped out on the noodles. It was amazingly delicious!

I am now 21 days post-op and have list a total of 18 pounds. I had my follow-up with my primary care doctor today and see my surgeon next week. I'm hoping to be down another 3 pounds for a total of 21 pounds in 28 days. My goal is to be down 35 pounds by the end of March. 

Minestrone soup has always been one of my favorites. What’s not to like? Tomato broth, beans, veggies….and some kind of pasta. Usually spirals or shells, but more often than not the standard elbow macaroni. I enjoyed the beans and the zucchini and squash quite a bit. It was nice to have a different flavor added to what I eat.

I’ve seen so many minestrone soup recipes over the years and I cannot figure out for the life of my why people make it so complicated. Believe me, my Nonni, Nonna and those before her were not using all kinds of beans I have never heard of or cheeses that cost $30 a pound in their minestrone soup.

Basically what you will need to make a big pot of delicious minestrone soup is a combination of cooked beans. I don’t use canned, but feel free, just drain and rinse them. I use 3 cups of any combination of cannellini beans, white beans, garbanzo (chickpeas) beans, pink beans, pinto beans, kidney beans.
I chop up a small onion, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, a large carrot (peeled) and a few ribs of celery. At the bottom of my largest soup pot (about 6-quarts) I add olive oil and heat it up then add the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Let it sweat for a few minutes.

You’ll need 2 cups of vegetable broth, I make my own, here’s the link on how I do that --> Make your own vegetable broth from scraps

You’ll also need 1 large can (28 ounces) tomato sauce, low or no-salt preferred) and one can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes. After the stuff has had a chance to sweat, add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully add the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a bubble over medium-high to high heat. Add oregano, basil and parsley to taste. Add some garlic powder if it’s not garlicky enough for you. Simmer on low heat, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.

Now you’ll need one small green zucchini, one small yellow summer squash, a cup of frozen corn kernels, a cup of frozen, cut broccoli and a cup of frozen peas. Cut the zucchini and summer squash into smallish chunks (about the size of large dice). Add the zucchini, squash and broccoli to the pot. Simmer on low another 20 to 25 minutes. Add the corn and peas; simmer another 20 minutes on low. Don’t forget to stir the soup often. Taste test to make sure you have the seasonings just right. Add the beans and simmer another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook your choice of pasta according to directions. Drain and set aside.

Take the soup off the burner, cover and let sit 10 minutes. Mine always ends up looking very thick and not thin and watery. Hubby likes it that way and so do I. Kids don’t seem to mind, the minestrone never seems to last very long.

I put the hot pasta at the bottom of the bowl and scoop the soup out over the pasta and then sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano cheese. A salad and garlic bread often round out the meal whether for lunch or dinner. Now, Mangia! Oh, it’s soooo cheap…and delicious…and healthy!

Here are the links to my other blog posts about eating healthy and exercising on a budget:

As always...CHEERS!!!
Rachael Monaco

Photo courtesy of Rachael Monaco's kitchen on Minestrone soup day

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