Minestrone Soup

Freshly made soup is a wonderful thing and I had fun making it this afternoon for lunch.  The minestrone soup recipe, I found online from the Food Network.  With my laptop out in the kitchen I read the recipe and began to gather ingredients.  In our cupboards we didn’t have crushed and diced tomatoes, but I was able to chop up some fresh tomatoes and add tomato paste.  I found the substitutions worked out well, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be eating an overwhelming amount of tomato anyway.  I liked the thinner consistency and more focus of the elbow noodles, kidney beans, green beans, carrots and fresh basil.  Soups are best when the fresh veggies, beans and noodles are abundant.  I’m not big on the broth part of soup, but this broth actually turned out well.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste and voilà – lovely soup.

The extra soup can be frozen so the noodles don’t get mushy.  It can be easily microwaved for a fast and easy lunch.  It’s hard to beat a nice hearty soup.  Salt content in a hearty soup can also be regulated when you make it at home, verses the soup-to-go things from the grocery store.  While I am on the topic of soup-to-go, maybe Mom or Dad will be interested in taking some of my soup to work for an easy and healthy lunch.  Dad swims every day at lunchtime, so perhaps a serving of vegetables would help him swim faster!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (you can add up to 4 cloves if you like garlic)
  • 2 handfuls of baby carrots, sliced thinly
  • 2 handfuls green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes (I didn’t have this so I diced 2 fresh, medium sized tomatoes and got rid of the seeds.)
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes (I didn’t have this so I used 156mL can of tomato paste)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup elbow pasta (after it was boiled my pasta was more like 2 cups, I love pasta)
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (it’s just for garnish, not mandatory)

* I didn’t have all the ingredients from the recipe I found online.  You could also add one stock of fresh celery sliced, 1 small onion chopped finely and more or less of the garlic or elbow noodles depending on preferences.  A can of diced tomatoes and a can of crushed tomatoes would have given the soup more tomato flavour, but the tomato paste and two freshly diced tomatoes seemed to be a good substitute.

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  2. Add the green beans, freshly diced tomato and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in dried oregano, fresh chopped basil, salt, and pepper to taste; cook 3 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth to the pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the kidney beans and continue to let simmer for approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Cook the elbow noodles separately and add in for the last two minutes.  (You could cook the elbow noodles in the soup, but I find it adds to much extra starch.)
  7. Ladle into bowls and top with the Parmesan (if desired).

If you use low sodium kidney beans and low sodium vegetable broth, the Food Network has calculated the nutritional values as follows:

Per serving (2 cups): Calories 260; Fat 8 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 560 mg; Carbohydrate 37 g; Fiber 10 g; Protein 15 g)

Carrot Soup

Carrot soup is one of my favourite types of soup to make at home.  The number one selling point is that carrots are much easier to peel and chop than butternut squash.  Secondly, carrots are full of vitamin A, which is awesome for your skin.  My Mom’s recipe for carrot soup does not contain milk, despite its even texture and warm flavour.  Every year on Halloween my mom would make this soup before we went out trick or treating.  It was a nice warm soup perfect for an October night, and it’s orange for Halloween.  However, I enjoy this soup in any month of the year.

The family dog Beau also enjoyed this cooking endeavor because he got to eat some carrot too!

Carrot soup is versatile and delicious and was made with Ontario carrots.  The organic carrots at the grocery store looked a bit dry.  So when organic isn’t looking so great the next best thing is local.  Jonathan doesn’t know this yet, but I envision us growing carrots in the backyard of our future home.  Carrots are really easy to grow and are my favourite root vegetable.

*Important tip.  Make sure you double check the liquid maximum your food processor will hold.  I had to make this recipe twice because of a food processor spill.  This spill was fully cleaned up, for all my family reading this blog post.

Ingredients

1 Onion Diced

3 Cups chopped raw carrots

5 cups chicken broth

2 TBSP Rice

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1.  Chop three cups of raw carrots.

2.  Sauté Onion.  Simmer carrots and rice in chicken broth for ½ hour.

3.  Pour mixture into food processor and blend until creamy.

4.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Curry Pasta Salad

While deciding what to have for lunch today I was looking online at quinoa recipes, only to find we did not have quinoa in the house.  Instead, I decided on a pasta salad and looking around the refrigerator found some great ingredients.  The pasta salad was lightly spiced and very mild, but with lots of flavour.  Apples and orange pepper gave it a nice crunch and tuna added protein.  All in all a great easy lunch!

Curry Pasta Salad

Half a package of elbow noodles

½ cup Craisins

1 orange pepper chopped into small pieces

1 apple cored and chopped into small pieces

1 can of tuna

4 tablespoons of mayonnaise or Miracle Whip

1 teaspoon of yellow curry powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon of turmeric

Instructions:

Boil pasta, until al dente and then drain, and rinse the pasta with cold water.

In your salad bowl add the tuna and with a fork, separate it into desired size.  Chop and then add your apple and orange pepper.  Then add craisins.

Next add spices and Miracle Whip.

Combine drained cool pasta and stir thoroughly.

Refrigerate until cooled, this gives the miracle whip and the pasta time to set.

Then enjoy!