When it comes to ways to get your daily servings of five to nine vegetables and fruits, I don't think there is anything better than soups and stews. Comforting and nourishing, a soup or stew can be loaded up with a rainbow of vegetables. And all those lovely colors mean that it is packed with antioxidants.
Antioxidants are protective against cancer and boost the immune system. They reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. And all that fiber in vegetables feeds your good gut bacteria which also boosts immunity. Pair this soup with a large green salad that has lots of raw vegetables for an even bigger antioxidant punch.
Make this soup with whatever colorful vegetables and greens you have on hand. Don't feel you need to stick with my ingredient list. Don't have spinach? Use kale or collards. Don't have zucchini? Use green beans. Don't have sweet potatoes? Use butternut squash or add more white potato. You get the idea. Anything goes!
Anything Goes Minestrone
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium idaho, russet, or yellow potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 small zucchini or yellow squash, diced
1 28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes
4-6 cups vegetable broth or water (less liquid will make a thicker soup, more liquid will result in a thinner soup)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 can cannellini beans or kidney beans, undrained
3/4 cup dry whole grain small pasta (elbows are nice)
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped or 1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 tablespoons, snipped fresh basil, optional for garnish
In a large soup pot, sauté onion in a small amount of water for 5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sauté 2 minutes adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking. Add all ingredients except the beans, pasta, and spinach. Bring to a boil and simmer over medium-low heat, partially covered, for 25-30 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through. Add the beans and pasta and boil until pasta is done, about 10 minutes. Add the spinach and let it wilt (or thaw if frozen). Ladle up generous portions into large bowls and enjoy! Makes 6 generous servings.