Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Since everyone is still on their new year resolution diets I figured the first official recipe post of 2013 should at least be something healthy, right? I LOVE making a big batch of minestrone and having plenty to bring in for lunch for the week or freeze for a later occasion. This version has been healthified and lightened up by using veggie pasta over regular pasta. I think the original recipe might’ve come from Martha Stewart, but I’ve been making it for years now. Feel free to experiment, use the veggies you have on hand, fresh or frozen. You really can’t screw this soup up!

Minestrone Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 4 cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped zucchini, green pepper, yellow squash mix (I used frozen, leftover from my farmshare)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Eden Organic small vegetable shells
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegans)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth and water. Stir in the green beans and vegetable medley, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans, pasta and baby spinach. Cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

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Fresh Salsa


I hate that I need to go to a Mexican restaurant to eat good salsa. It actually kind of drives me a bit nuts. I’ve tried buying a ton of different brands from the grocery store and nothing compares to the fresh stuff. Luckily, our farm share has been providing us with an abundance of tomatoes and I happened to have one dinky jalapeno growing in my garden. Note in the picture above the jalapeno is the same size as a small clove of garlic and those are cherry tomatoes shown next to it! My poor garden really suffered this year because I forgot to water and it hasn’t rained much. Oopsie! Anywho, this salsa is close to what you’ll get in a good Mexican joint, but make sure to taste test (preferably with tortilla chips) and adjust seasoning as you wish.

Fresh Salsa

  • 6-8 fresh tomatoes (I used a combination of plum, beefsteak and cherry tomatoes)
  • 1/2 white or red onion
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup poblano peppers
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Rough chop all ingredients and pulse in a food processer until desired consistency is reached. This will make enough to fill a large mason jar.

Penne alla Vodka

I know, my stove is really gross and I could stand to purchase a new set of pots and pans. Don’t judge me.

Forgive my yellowy iPhone picture, as it makes the pasta almost look like cheeseburger helper. It’s actually more of a pale pink, rather than orange.

This is one of those dishes I make when company comes over or on a busy weeknight. I just kinda eyeball everything and it can be easily customized to whatever your taste buds desire.

Penne alla Vodka

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter (not needed if adding sausage)
  • 1 box of penne pasta
  • 3-6 links hot or mild poultry sausage, casing removed
  • 1 cup light whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup mid-grade vodka, plus 2 tablespoons (such as Skyy, Svedka, Smirnoff, Absolut or Stolichnaya. DON’T USE CHEAP VODKA!)
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Since I’m adding sausage which typically has enough fat in it, I’m omitting the butter, but if you intend on making it without sausage make sure you add butter. Brown sausage in a large pan over medium until cooked thoroughly. Add cream, tomato paste and vodka, stirring until combined. Add basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a spoon. Cook pasta simultaneously according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to sauce. Season with Parmesan cheese and additional red pepper flakes. Yum!

Some variations would be to add shrimp or chicken, fresh or frozen broccoli florets or serve it as a side dish without a protein added. I’ve also made it with spaghetti before, but the penne seems to be the best option because it holds the sauce really well.

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