2016-10-29 / Food

Hearty minestrone warms you up on cool fall evenings

Alicia Ross

Every year about this time I start contemplating the comforting, steady feeling of a bowl of hearty soup or stew at the end of the day. For me, autumn means soup weather. I believe nothing beats soup for dinner when the weather turns cooler.

Soups and stews often improve over time, so they are the perfect make-ahead or intentional leftover meal. Most can be frozen for even more flexibility and serving options. Today’s recipe is a variation on classic minestrone, but made with prepared broths, canned beans and quick staples. Best of all, it can be ready for dinner tonight or later. You are sure to enjoy the hearty vegetables, nutritious bean proteins and soul-satisfying comfort of this Mainstay Minestrone.

Mainstay Minestrone

Start to finish: less than 30 minutes
Yield: makes about 10 (3/4 cup) servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms, coarsely
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
2 cloves minced garlic or 1 teaspoon
bottled minced garlic
1 cup low-sodium V-8 juice

1 cup low-sodium, low-fat beef broth
2 cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth
11/2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked short pasta, such as
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and
1 can (15 ounces) red kidney beans,
rinsed and drained

1 can (21/4 ounces) sliced black olives,
2 cans (14 ounces each) chopped tomatoes 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1 cup frozen green peas
10 teaspoons grated or shaved parmesan

cheese, optional for serving

Heat oil on medium-high in a soup pot. Add onions, mushrooms and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are crisp-tender and mushrooms begin to lose their liquid, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Add garlic, V-8 juice, both of the broths, water and pasta to pot; raise heat to high. Cover pot and bring broth to a boil. While soup is heating, lift lid to stir from time to time, as pasta will begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.

Rinse and drain chickpeas, kidney beans and olives, and set aside.

When soup boils, reduce heat to medium-high. Uncover pot and add tomatoes with their juices, chickpeas, kidney beans, olives, Italian seasoning, sugar and black pepper. Stir frequently, adjusting heat if necessary to make sure soup maintains a vigorous boil.

Cook until pasta is just tender, about 5 more minutes. In last 2 minutes of cooking, stir in frozen green peas. Serve, garnishing each bowl with 1 teaspoon parmesan cheese or more to taste.

Approximate values per serving: 388 calories, 6 g fat (0.7 g saturated), no cholesterol, 22 g protein, 66 g carbohydrates, 17 g dietary fiber, 12 g sugar, 242 mg sodium.

Alicia Ross can be contacted at the Kitchen Scoop website www.kitchenscoop.com.

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