revamped October 2018
omit the beans and quinoa and added in sweet potatoes, zucchini & hemp seeds
 

Ahhh…yes the cooler weather is upon us here in Jersey and this is when we hibernate and make soup right?! OK, that may just be me but you can’t deny that soup is easy, versatile and can be made healthy. Sure you can buy the canned or boxed soup but even the low sodium ones are still kind of high in sodium plus have added preservatives that our bodies just don’t need. 

I believe in making your own soup this way you know what is going in it and you can add what you like from chicken to pasta to tons of veggies even sweet potatoes. This meal is sure to please all diets as it is vegetarian-friendly, vegan (omit the cheese rind), paleo (omit quinoa & beans). Better yet, throw it all in the crockpot and cook high for 2 hours or low for 4. Who doesn’t love the crockpot!?

What’s in it?!
In trying to limit my animal protein to just once a day I made a big ol’ batch of hearty minestrone soup to have for lunch this week plus there were leftovers that I froze for a quick weeknight dinner! Score! Feel free to interchange your favorite veggies but I stick with your basic mirepoix blend (carrots, onions & celery), red kidney beans (higher in protein), fresh spinach, quinoa, crushed tomatoes and a frozen rind of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (I keep the rinds and freeze them for soups – they add great flavor).  I feel this was a good mix of macros with carbs from the quinoa, protein from the beans and quinoa, a full serving of veggies and a little fat from the cheese.) I shave some fresh parm cheese over the top when it’s all done too!

My Secret Shortcuts
Now I am all about making my weeknight dinners fast and simple so I go for frozen veggies and herbs when possible.  I know some may frown upon this but honestly frozen is just as good as fresh if not better as they are picked at their peak of freshness.  Some items I buy frozen like the mirepoix blend which saves time on cutting and prepping. (and that helps for this working momma!)  I also came across a great find of frozen garlic and herbs!  You could use frozen spinach but I prefer fresh.  

When it comes to crushed tomatoes I often have found them high in sodium until I came across Pomi with only 5 grams of sodium per serving (6 per container).  With canned beans, I like to use Eden Organic as their can lining is BPA free and the sodium is low too. These are just my secret shortcuts and depending on where you live you may not have these options but just be a conscious consumer and read labels to make sure you are making healthy decisions for you and your family.

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa  omit for sweet potato
  • 1 can organic low sodium red kidney beans rinse(omit for hemp seeds
  • 32 oz low sodium vegetable broth
  • 26 oz crushed tomatoes low sodium
  • 10 oz fresh spinach also added in chopped zucchini
  • 12 oz bag frozen mirepoix or fresh
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp each fresh or frozen herbs such as basil oregano, parsley
  • Red pepper flakes optional
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Frozen parm -cheese rind optiona(updated with nutritional yeast

Instructions

  • Add oil to a stock pot on medium heat.
  • Add in garlic and let simmer a little (careful not to burn)
  • Add in mirepoix blend and cook 5 minutes through
  • Pour in vegetable stock, red kidney beans, and crushed tomatoes
  • Stir well to combine and bring to a boil
  • Once boiled add in rind and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Add in herbs and S&P
  • Taste test and adjust seasonings to your liking
  • Remove and discard cheese rind before serving
  • Enjoy!