Midwinter Minestrone Soup

When I was about 16 or 17, I went on what I thought at the time was a healthy eating kick. In reality, it was a low-fat diet, and not really all that balanced. That is, unless you consider bagels, Fruit Loops, graham crackers and lots of pasta healthy. It was the early 90s, and, our country was on a low fat craze.

Thankfully we know better now.

One thing I did eat quite a lot of back then that I would still consider healthy today is minestrone soup. Somehow, before the Internet, I managed to figure out how to put together a tomato base, some veggies, and pasta to make a hearty meal that made plenty of leftovers. Are you currently remembering what it was like before the Internet? Scary right? I can’t even picture going back to those days!

It’s been a long time for me and the minestrone, as I haven’t made it in at least 10 years, and don’t even remember my old recipe! That’s where Rachael Ray comes in. Love her or hate her, one thing she does have is an extensive recipe database, and she’s always adding new ideas. I came across this one over the weekend, and it fit the bill for what I was looking for: something I could make pretty much solely from the contents of my CSA produce box.

Now, it is worth stating up front that 2Chili is hot liquid averse. He generally does not go for soup, no matter the spin on it, and, he is steadfast in his stance that chili is not soup. It is also worth stating that I will not get that through my thick head.

I try, and I try, and I try some more. After 8 years of marriage, you’d think I’d just stop trying. The root of the problem is that I love hot liquids, and so they sound good to me when I’m on my recipe hunt down each week. And, since I make the dinner, I get to call the shots on what we’re having. What about when 2Chili makes the dinner? Oh, you don’t want to know. (Hint: Fish sticks, onion rings, and Kraft Mac’N Cheese. Really.)


Midwinter Minestrone Soup

Original Recipe/Inspiration: Since I barely changed the original recipe, I’m going to point you over here to grab it, but I will tell you my changes, what I would do differently next time, and how the nutrtional info netted out for us.

Time Required:

  • ~10 minutes to chop veggies
  • 20 minutes to cook

Skill Level: Plate

2Chili’s Taster Rating: StarStar
See, I told you he doesn’t like soup. I’m giving you his honest reaction, which I am not all that surprised by. (See: “I will never learn,” above.) What he didn’t like:

  • He wanted a tomato base, and this uses a stock base
  • He didn’t like the kale
  • He didn’t like that I put parmesan cheese on top, per the recipe. His exact quote was “You know I don’t like cheese on soup!”

He did note the fresh bread I served on the side was delicious. Of course.

The Cook’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStar
I am implementing a new taster rating today, because I feel 2Chili is wrong! I really liked this soup, and I liked the stock base (I used low sodium vegetable stock). I liked the kale, and I liked the cheese on top. We agree on most things in life, but there are two things we don’t agree on: 1) Soup 2) How to fold towels.

Changes I Made to the Original Recipe:

  • Added one zucchini
  • Did not add pancetta
  • Didn’t add extra salt and pepper
  • Used dried chickpeas that I prepared instead of canned chickpeas
  • Didn’t use a bay leaf because I didn’t have any, and didn’t think that would go over well with my audience Winking smile

Notes/What I Would Do Differently:

  • The recipe calls for short-cut semolina pasta, and I thought I used that, but I misread the label on the bag. I used semolina pasta that started out small, but it got very big and soaked up a lot of broth, so I had to use quite a bit more broth than was called for
  • I thought the sundried tomatoes were good, but not necessary. They are the most expensive ingredient, and you could easily do without them.
  • I really liked the addition of the zucchini, and would recommend it if you make this
  • As an aside, here are the items that came out of my produce box for this recipe: mushrooms, kale, carrots, celery, and zucchini! I had some chickpeas already made up, and only had to buy the tomatoes and garlic. So, all in all, this was an easy, low-fuss recipe that took very little planning.

Nutrition: Since there are so many variations you could do here, I am not putting in a nutrition chart like I usually do. If you make this, I recomend heading over to SparkPeople and using their recipe calculator to determine the nutrition of your exact ingredients. I will say, for our pot, it came out to about 9 servings with 200 calories for a cup-and-a-half, with 4.5g fat, 145mg sodium, 32g carbs, and 7.3g protein.

The Verdict: I am overriding 2Chili on this one and saying it was very good, and satisfying on a cold day. Good thing, too, because I have plenty of leftovers! If I make it again, I will dramatically reduce the recipe, and save it for those times when I am either eating alone or for lunch, when we typically eat totally different meals.

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