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Easy Winter Vegetable Soup

Easy Winter Vegetable Soup

Cooking has always been a form of meditation for me. Fueling up on nourishing foods always feels right.

Lately, I’ve been doing plenty of that, enjoying simple, healthful meals, including this warming winter soup.

Nutritional Yeast

The broth is light. And you can swap the water for bouillon cubes if you have them.

But the variety of veggies naturally fills this with flavor.

Top each bowl with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. It adds a slightly nutty and almost creamy finish to every bite.

You’ll also want a slice of crusty bread to pair with it.

Easy Winter Vegetable Soup

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Beans and Rice Italian Minestrone Soup

Beans and Rice Minestrone Soup

Yesterday, I put sweatpants over my tights, stuffed my hat inside my helmet, and zipped my coat up above my upper lip. Boots on, I braved the 20 degree weather that waited for me on my 2-wheel ride to work. Morning wake-up call at its best.

This was not, however, before tackling a stubborn frozen bike lock. Running late, I waddled my layered self back up to my apartment to grab a cup of hot water. Luckily, I discovered, that would do the trick. Anyone else ever have this problem with their lock in the winter?


Ten frozen fingers later, I successfully made it to work. Good thing I forgot a change of shoes. I love rocking winter boots with tights and a dress, and all the funny looks that elicits. One of those days.

black rice

I’ve expressed before, winter’s not my favorite. But making soup is. There’s something about mindlessly throwing a bunch of ingredients in a pan, and knowing that meddling their flavors will produce guaranteed results.  Soup-making is pure simplicity. And brings the warmth that I crave after bike rides home from work.

This, I tell you, is one warming bowl of soup. Beans, rice and a kick of spice, it’s like bringing a thermal to the dinner table. Serve with a slice of crusty bread and a glass of wine, and you’ll be good to go.

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Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Fifteen baguettes later, I’ve arrived home to Philly after a two week excursion in France and Belgium. There was a serious amount of baguette action on this trip. And brie, and pastries, and bottles of wine, and poorly accented bonjour’s and bon appétit’s. You can expect a food-related post on my trip soon. First, however, I need to sort through my 1,000 photos, memories and jetlag, stalk the chef I met on Facebook, and remind myself life will be okay without cute French boys on every block. I also need eat some greens and whole grains. And grab this soup from the freezer.

Wanting to clean out my refrigerator, I whipped this up just before heading to France.  It was literally the perfect light and veggie-packed meal I needed before jetting off to a foodie haven of artisan cheeses and pistachio macaroons. Luckily, some soup still remains waiting for me…waiting for my detox of daily croissant consumption. I admit, the thought of saying farewell to that makes me want to cry.

Oh well. Oatmeal simmers away, energy-restoring smoothies whiz in the blender, and breakfast and life goes on — with or without pain au chocolats. On the bright side, I’ve come home to ridiculously lovely weather in the midst of my favorite season. For that, I will continue to ride my life high. Come home in the winter, on the other hand, and I’m sure this would not’ve been the case. Good thing its springtime. Cheers to that. I also stumbled home to my tax return in the mailbox yesterday afternoon. After Paris, it needn’t even be mentioned I’m cheersing to that too.

Minestrone Soup

If the thought of soup and warm temps makes you want to slap me and proceed to go flag down the ice cream man, well, then bookmark this one for later. But considering it’s still May and sweat-drenching days have yet to arrive, I’m going to argue on behalf of this meal. This minestrone is certainly not a hearty, gut-warming winter stew. Rather, it’s a light soup, fit for a wide range of seasons, and packed with tons of nutrition. Given what was in my fridge the day of its creation, this also happens to be heavy on the green beans. If green beans aren’t your veggie of choice, feel free to add in a handful of spring greens or any other seasonal ingredient that might sound good to you.

Make this minestrone a meal by simply serving it with a slice of crusty bread and a side salad. That’s what I’ll be doing — baguette on the side, pretending I’m still in Paris. Au revoir.

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Mexican Quinoa Minestrone

I’ve been seeing recipes for quinoa soup everywhere lately, and well, since I adore quinoa, I knew I had to hop on that bandwagon. After all, quinoa is the protein-packed grain of the gods, at least in my household, and I was craving its nourishment.

Prior to this recipe, the last soup-making venture that went down in my kitchen left plenty of room for improvement. Sick with whatever cough-filled virus that makes you feel like you’re dying, my body needed soup. Unfortunately, my kitchen cabinets didn’t offer much help, leading to a mixture I wouldn’t necessarily call my medicine of choice. A can of fire-roasted tomatoes, broth, and a hodgepodge of spices later, I threw together the simplest (and might I add, least satisfying) tomato soup I’ve had to date. Guess that’s what you get when you’re a sick, single lady living in a soup-less part of the city. (Yes Mom, sometimes I’m still lost without you.)

Needless to say, I was ready for a soup redemption. With all the possibilities, I couldn’t decide between making this an Italian or Mexican inspired quinoa soup. So I went with both. I wasn’t too worried how it’d turn out because anything would be better than the last can of tomatoes I was slurping from my spoon.

I’m happy to say the results far exceeded my expectations, drawing on the best parts from both sides of this flavor fusion. You’ve got all the veggies and grain base (with quiona replacing the pasta) from a typical minestrone soup, with all the rich flavor you’d get from the spices of a Mexican stew. Plus, it’s freshened up with a heavy dose of cilantro and topped with creamy avocado. Who doesn’t love foods topped with avocado? It was just the nourishment I needed and the perfect redemption we can all use now and then from a flop in the kitchen.

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Minestrone Stew

Soup, stew, or if you’re a Rachel Ray fan, stewp…Nearly any variation of those sultry “S” words will seduce me on a cold winter’s day. Nothing warms me up like a hot, steamy bowl of soup when I’m feeling the winter chills. Like this minestrone soup—hearty, spicy, filled with that fiery heat I was looking for during this past week of freezing temps. The following recipe is for a minestrone-styled stew with a few small twists. Feel free to add rice or pasta to make your bowl even that much heartier.

Minestrone Stew

-2 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 large onion, diced
-4 stalks celery, diced
-2 carrots, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 medium potatoes, chopped
-14.5 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with green chillies, undrained
-5 cups water or vegetable broth or a combination
-15.5 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
-15.5 oz can chick peans, rinsed and drained
-1 tsp. basil
-1 tsp. oregano
-1/2 tsp. Chinese five spice
-1/2 pound kale, optional
-Salt, pinch
-Chives, chopped, optional

In large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrots, and cook 5 minutes. Stir in potatoes and garlic, cover, and let sweat another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, spices, and water/broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Add beans and salt, to taste. Simmer 5 minutes. Add kale, if desired, and cook another 10 minutes, or until kale is tender. Remove from heat. Serve with a handful of chopped chives, if desired.