Eat soup!

Eat soup!

If winter weekend afternoons inspire you to put on a big pot of soup, here’s a recipe for a great vegetable soup (that’s also pretty darn good for you) that a friend shared with me when our daughters were grade school playmates.

I make this soup throughout the year,  but it’s especially good on cold, snowy days like these.
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. It goes much faster the second time you make it. Plus, it  yields plenty for leftovers, and is just about a complete meal.  Add a salad or some bread and you’re done.

Along with the recipe, which ran many years ago in Cooking Light magazine, I’m including some comments from Carle Clinic dietician Kristina Adams, who reviewed it for its nutritional value and made some suggestions of her own.
Happy cooking!

Pasta-vegetable soup:
6 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrot
1 cup sliced celery
1 cup dried lentils
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon each of basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme and pepper
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 bay leaf
3 10 1/2-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
1 9-ounce package frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup small seashell pasta, uncooked
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Romano cheese
Combine 4 cups water and all ingredients through the tomato paste in large pot, bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add remaining 2 cups water and vinegar, bring to boil, stir in pasta and cook 8 additional minutes. Discard bay leaf. Ladle into soup bowls and top with cheese.
Yield: 17 cups (Serving size 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon cheese.)

Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, 2.8 grams fat, 2.7 grams fiber, 8.1 grams protein, 19.4 grams carbohydrates.

Suggestions: Add a couple of chopped, red potatoes. And if you’re not a fan of lentils, you can leave them out. A can of rinsed, drained kidney beans makes a good substitute for the lentils, but don’t add the beans until the end.
Time saver: If you’re going to be short on time right before dinner, you can chop the veggies in the morning and stash them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Kristina Adams’ comments:
Seems like it would be a good recipe to make ahead and freeze, or even put together in the crockpot on low to cook while at work (both without the pasta.) Either would be good time savers, since there are a lot of ingredients, and it makes quite a lot.
Good points: Low in calories and a good source of fiber, and with the variety of vegetables, it packs plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Short on time? Could use some canned or frozen mixed vegetables and onions to decrease some of the work of prepping fresh produce.
Don’t have all those spices? Could use 1-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning instead of 1/2 teaspoon of all the herbs listed.
Any type of bean would work in this recipe as well, or even adding a variety of beans. I like the idea of or navy beans or even black eyed peas.
I like the idea of adding potatoes too. Even corn or spinach would be a good addition as well.
You could add an alphabet shaped pasta or other fun shape to make it fun for kids to eat, too. Even an orzo pasta or rice would be good.
This is one of those recipes that has lots of potential to make it numerous ways and have it different each time!

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