Cold weather is ahead and that means all the good things that come with it. Cozy fires, hot chocolate, comfy sweaters, and holiday parties.
Oh, and flu season.
But fret not. Darya and I are here to help you stay healthy all fall and winter long. A recent post of hers contains ten great tips on how to avoid getting sick. And my recipe for a hearty, healthy homemade soup will help you nail her #9: Eat well.
For years I’ve been working to perfect the recipe for my Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone. I love the result.
This isn’t your average minestrone with some beans and a few wimpy vegetables floating in some tasteless broth. My minestrone alone is a complete meal. It satisfies like a bowl of your favorite hearty pasta, and in addition to eight different fresh veggies this soup includes whole-wheat penne, cannellini beans, spicy chicken sausage (optional), and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Even better, it is easy to make and hard to mess up.
Ready to beat cold and flu season? Don an apron and dust off your pots and pans. It’s a lot of vegetables to chop, but enlist the help of a friend and you’ll both benefit from the big batch of soup this recipe makes. It’s so good you can eat it multiple nights in a row, or freeze the leftovers and enjoy a quick, healthy dinner at a later date.
Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone
Yield: 10 servings
- 2 spicy sausages (optional), sliced thin (I love Applegate Organics Spicy Chicken Sausage)
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 leek, remove bottom, top, outer leaf, slice into half moons
- 2 carrots, peel, chop into bite-size pieces
- 3 celery sticks, chop into bite-size pieces
- 2 zucchini, halve and slice
- ½ cabbage, chiffonade (thin slices)
- 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drain and rinse
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- grated Parmesan
Grains / Breads
- 1 cup whole-wheat rigatoni or penne, cooked according to package
- 1 32 oz box low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 32 oz box regular vegetable broth
Wash and chop all the vegetables according to ingredients list.
Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot (I use a Le Creuset 7 ¼ Qt. Dutch Oven) over medium heat. Sauté onion, leek, carrots, celery, and garlic with 1 tsp of salt for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent browning. The salt is important as it helps the vegetables sweat, releasing natural juices and flavor.
Add zucchini, cabbage, oregano and pepper and sauté an additional 10 minutes. If needed add a little more olive oil.
Meanwhile brown the sliced sausage in a separate pan over medium heat with a little olive oil for 5 minutes.
Once the veggies have cooked through but before they brown at all, add the broth, tomatoes, beans and cooked sausage. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
(I use one part regular broth to one part low-sodium broth to keep the soup from turning out too salty. The sausage adds quite a bit of flavor and salt. If you’re leaving out the sausage, taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.)
Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package directions. Drain and set aside. You should add the pasta only to individual servings. If you add to the entire pot, the pasta will soak most of the broth and you’ll have extremely soggy pasta.
Place a small serving of pasta in a large soup bowl. Ladle soup on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. Yum!
Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.