I love soup and honestly could probably eat it every day (if someone else was fixing it for me)! I enjoy taking fresh ingredients and making a delicious pot of hearty soup! Sometimes it’s pureed and other times it’s just plain chunky. Family favorites include my Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup over Mashed Potatoes, Corn Chowder, Mexican Chicken Soup and Clam Chowder.
One summer day, I was soup-er hungry and had a ton of fresh seasonal vegetables on hand and no idea what to do with them. That’s when “Italian Harvest Soup” was born because hunger is always at the root of my culinary creations!
A FFR original, this recipe fits all of my soup requirements perfectly…filling, low in fat and carbohydrates, simple to prepare and flavorful! In fact, I know this may sound crazy, but I’d rather eat this soup than chocolate cake. And yes, I’m completely serious!
Italian Harvest Soup
- 1/2 lb ground hamburger, turkey or sausage
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1 medium yellow squash, chopped
- 1/2 red pepper, chopped
- 2 cobs of corn
- 3 cans chicken broth
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can tomato paste + 3 cans water
- 1/2 cup elbow macaroni
- 1 can cannellini beans, drained
- 1 tsp herbs de provence
- 1 T fresh basil, chopped
- 1 T fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp fennel (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Salt & pepper to taste
Prep the corn by slicing it off the cob, set aside. In a large pot on medium heat, cook the meat, onion and garlic crumbling the meat as you go. Once the meat is cooked through, add the carrot, celery, zucchini, yellow squash and corn. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 cans of water, macaroni, beans and spices. Stir the tomato paste until dissolved. 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.
Garnish with additional chopped fresh basil, grated cheddar, mozzarella and/or parmesan cheese. I also like to sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on for extra flavor.
Crock Pot Variations
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.
- For the meat use whatever you have on hand. You could even omit meat altogether and the soup would still be just as good. Or you could even use chicken.
- For the zucchini and yellow squash, I like quarter pieces. Cut them in half lengthwise and then in half again and slice about 1/4″ wide.
- If you don’t like the red pepper, just omit it. For the veggies, feel free to use whatever you like: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower or even asparagus. Either substitute for one of the other veggies or just increase your chicken broth. You can make it as soupy or stew-like as you prefer.
- If you don’t have access to fresh corn, just use a can of corn or a cup of frozen corn.
- he cannellini beans make the soup more hearty and add protein. If your family doesn’t like beans, just omit them.
- I prefer to use ground turkey because it’s healthier 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.” www.livestrong.com
- 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!