Italian Harvest Soup

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I love soup and honestly could probably eat it every day if it wasn’t so stinking hot in the summer.  I enjoy taking fresh ingredients and making a delicious soup that doesn’t have too many calories, is filling and simple to prepare.  Sometimes it is a pureed soup, and other times it’s just plain chunky and hearty.

A few months ago, I was soup-er hungry and wanted something tasty that was low in fat and carbohydrates (due to my pre-diabetes)…that’s when “Italian Harvest Soup” was born.  I’m actually pleased with how it came out because it fit all of my soup requirements perfectly.  In fact, I know this may sound crazy, but I’d rather have this soup than chocolate cake.  And yes, I’m completely serious!

Italian Harvest Soup

  • 1/2 lb ground hamburger or turkey
  • 1 T oil (light olive or coconut)
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 yellow squash, chopped
  • 1 can of corn or 2 cobs (cooked and corn removed)
  • 3 cans chicken broth
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil (or 1 T fresh, chopped)
  • 1 tsp fennel (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can cannellini beans (optional)
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni

Other vegetable ideas:
Add 1 cup of chopped red bell pepper, green bell pepper, green beans, broccoli, asparagus or cauliflower. Either substitute for one of the other veggies or increase your chicken broth.

In a large pot, fry the meat, onion and garlic until meat is cooked through.  Add the carrot, celery, zucchini and corn.  Sauté for 5-10 minutes.  Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, macaroni and beans.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes or until the macaroni  and veggies are cooked (but not too long or too high because all of the liquid will be soaked up by the pasta).  Once the pasta and veggies are soft, your soup is ready.

Serve with chopped fresh basil, grated cheddar, mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese.  Yum!

Crock Pot Recipe
Option #1:  Cook meat, onions and garlic in a frying pan, drain off fat and add to crock-pot.  Add all other ingredients, except the pasta.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until veggies are tender.  Add uncooked pasta the last hour or pre-cook on the stove and add before serving.
Option #2:  Cook meat in the crockpot – it’s so easy!  I do it all the time…place 1 pound of frozen meat in the crockpot on low for about 2 hours.  Check it 1 hour in and chop meat with spatula if thawed enough.  In 30 minutes, check and chop again.  Once meat is no longer pink, it’s done. Drain, then put half back in the crockpot and save the other half for tacos later in the week.  No need to sauté the onions and garlic with this option.  Just add them into the crockpot raw.  Add all other ingredients, except the pasta.  Cook on high for 3-4 hours or until veggies are tender.  Add uncooked pasta the last hour or pre-cook on the stove and stir in before serving.  

Root Notes
– For the zucchini and yellow squash, I wanted quarter pieces so I cut them in half lengthwise and then in half again and sliced about 1/4″ wide.
– If you don’t have these exact veggies on hand, just use what you do have.  Bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or even asparagus would be good.  I like to add the beans too which makes the soup more hearty.
– I prefer to use ground turkey because it’s generally better for us than hamburger.  “When it comes to blood   cholesterol and heart health, you need to pick out the very leanest meats. Too much cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium in your diet can greatly affect your risk of cardiovascular disease. When you compare ground turkey with its beef counterpart, they’re relatively even. But ground turkey comes in a fat-free version that could be the best option for your heart.” 
– 1 cup of zucchini contains several nutrients including: Vitamin A [40% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)],   Manganese, Vitamin C, Potassium, Magnesium, Vitamin K, Folate, Copper, Phosphorus, Vitamin B6, Thiamine and small amounts of iron, calcium, zinc and several other B vitamins.  It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients.  With those kinds of benefits, let’s eat zucchini for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Sources
Turkey vs. beef facts:   livestrong.com (see the article here)
Zucchini health benefits:   healthline.com  (see the article here)

 

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