It's warm, hearty, filling, tasty, and best of all, it's healthy. And for those of us in frigid locations, or those who are looking for some low-cal options to make that New Year's Resolution a reality, those are some really good adjectives.
Chris and I make soup all the time. It's the best way to use up random stuff in the fridge, and if you make a big pot on Sunday, it'll last you through Monday and Tuesday as well.
Though neither of us have a "lose weight" New Year's Resolution, we did decide it would be good to try to eat more vegetarian meals. We already are pretty good about including veggies in everything we cook, but it all is still so meat-centric that it seemed like it would be good for us to switch it up now and then with a meatless dish. And what easier veggie dish is there than vegetable soup?
Minestrone-Inspired Veggie Soup
I say this is "minestrone-inspired" because it is vegetables in a tomato and beef stock broth. But you'll soon see that I'm not using your traditional Minestrone vegetables...
Start by cutting up any veggies you have in your fridge.
I started with celery, carrots, and yellow squash.
Next, I chopped up some onion and quartered some brussels sprouts.
Yes, you heard me. Brussels sprouts.
Brussels sprouts are actually wonderfully tasty in soups, and because they're a cabbage relative, they really hold some of their texture and mass when cooked, unlike things like spinach which wilt.
Start browning the onions and brussels sprouts in a pot with olive oil, and make sure to add plenty of spices (such as garlic powder, pepper, Italian seasoning, dried basil, etc).
After a couple minutes, add the remaining veggies. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
During this time, grab some whole canned tomatoes.
...and slice them up.
Pour all the tomato liquid from the can along with the chopped tomatoes into the soup pot with the veggies.
Next, add beef stock. Since you are making this for yourself, I'll let you decide how much soup you want to make, and thus how much stock you want to add. If after adding, it tastes too salty, just add a little water.
And yes, I know I said "meat-less" but just added beef stock... but it's a necessary flavor component. There still is no actual meat in this dish!
Bring it all to a simmer and cover for 15 minutes, or however long it takes the veggies to cook but not overcook (depending on which veggies you decided to use).
When you're pretty much ready to eat, add some noodles.
I say this because have you ever noticed that noodles in soup tend to be mushy and overcooked? That's one battle I'm out to fight -- no overcooked noodles in soup! So set the table, toast the bread, and then put the noodles in. Read the box label to see the "al dente" cooking time. For my medium shells, it said 11-12 minutes. So I set the timer for 10 minutes. Why? Well, unlike when you cook pasta, you don't drain these noodles when they're done. They sit there in the soup, continuing to cook, even if it's not boiling anymore. So to get an al dente noodle in a soup, you actually have to kill the heat a minute or two before the noodles are done. Then by the time you get bowls out and dish up, the noodles will be perfect!
There you have it -- a low cal, practically no fat, hot and hearty meal. And because it didn't come from a can, it's not loaded with preservatives and sodium! High five to that!