Minestrone Soup

I’ve been a bit in a slump lately. At least when it comes to blogging recipes. I’ve been making food I’ve already done on here or making other people’s recipe or even just making stuff that I ultimately deem “not blog-worthy.” (That parmesan French toast was pretty delish, though!)

I blame it on end-of-the-year laziness. I seriously get so lazy after Thanksgiving. I think I only worked out 2 times in the entire month of December. I barely do any housecleaning and the laundry starts when we are all on our last pairs of underwear. Well, it’s January now and a new year has started. I have a list of things I want to start doing. Work has been absolutely CRAZYPANTS but it should calm down in the next few days and my head will stop spinning and perhaps I can actually start accomplishing things.

First up, this soup. It’s been raining like crazy here in SoCal the past couple days. Now, I happen to enjoy the rain. I don’t like going out in it, but I do love being warm and cozy and listening to it pitter patter outside my window. I always like to think Fall weather is soup weather, but in SoCal that is not at all the case. It’s usually pretty warm until mid-December to January when it starts to get a little chilly.

Minestrone soup is a thick Italian soup made of a flavored broth and veggies with optional beans and pasta added in. There is no set recipe for minestrone since you can use whatever veggies are in season. This soup dates back to the Roman Empire, but the basic premise remains today.

This soup really hit the spot and was so easy to make. It hit my trifecta of easy, healthy, and delicious!  If I weren’t in the beginning of a Biggest Loser Challenge, I would have served this with a side of bread as well.

30-Minute Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 16 oz bag frozen veggie medley (green beans, corn, peas, carrots. You can really use whatever veggies you want.)

Parmesan rind (optional)

1 28-oz can low-sodium crushed tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

12 oz box of shell pasta (or other small pasta of your choice) *I used Banza chickpea pasta and it was DELISH! You can’t even tell the difference and it punches up the protein of an otherwise-vegetarian dish.

Add olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the frozen veggies, basil, oregano, some salt and some pepper. I had a leftover rind from some parmesan, so I added this as well. You don’t have to.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until veggies start to soften.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and pasta and cook about 10 minutes (or per package directions for the pasta). Remove the parm rind if you used one and taste the soup for seasoning. I ended up adding more salt, pepper, and basil, but make it how you like it.

Rita’s Tricolor Pasta Salad

Don’t you just love hand-me-down recipes? Whether it’s from a friend or family member, there’s always something so special about a recipe that someone else has shared with you. This pasta salad is one of those. I got it from my mom who got it from her friend Rita, and it is always a big hit at any party or BBQ.

This salad is great for a few reasons: 1. It is super easy to put together. We are talking very minimal effort here, you guys; 2. It is really pretty to look at. Look at those colors!; 3. It is very customizable to your particular likings. Rita’s version called for raw purple onions and black olives. I don’t like either one, so I leave them out; and 4. It is great for outdoor gatherings because it isn’t a mayo-based dressing. Those tend to get a little sketchy in the sun, right?

I also like to pretend it’s healthy because you use veggies and veggie pasta. 😊

This salad is best when you make it the day before because all the flavors get a chance to party together and get all yummy. But it is also so easy that if you decide, say, a couple hours before that you want to make this dish, that isn’t a problem at all.

Rita’s Tricolor Pasta Salad

1 pound package of tricolor rotini

½ pound of sliced dry salami

1 medium tomato

1 medium cucumber

Shredded parmesan cheese (however much you want. I used about a cup.)

1 bottle of Italian dressing

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When finished, drain and put into a big bowl. Set in the fridge to cool.

Meanwhile, dice the tomato, cucumber, and salami. Set aside.

When the pasta is cooled, add in the salami, tomato, cucumber and cheese. Top with the Italian dressing. I always start with about half the bottle and then taste it to see if I want more or not. I usually end up using almost ¾ of the bottle.

Mix everything together. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.