How often do you make an inventory in your fridge? Sometimes, as you keep digging inside looking for something, you will find a lot of surprises. There are almost wrinkled zucchinis pushed to the end of the vegetable drawer, a good chunk of cabbage from last week, a hand full of green beans that are showing some sadness, some leafy vegetables and herbs starting to get wilted and there might be more but this doesn’t mean they’re ready to go to the compost bin.
Cooking is all about transformation, and the good thing is we don’t have to be a professional cook to create some miracles in the kitchen. It only requires time, patience, energy, and creativity. You will be surprised how fabulous those old and leftover vegetables will turn out to be. Sometimes the real beauty is seeing the value of something that looks like there’s no value at all. Recovering something is winning something.
One easy recipe to make use of any leftover vegetables is this Italian soup that is loaded with vegetables, cooked in tomato broth with added grains or pasta that is often labeled with the moniker of minestrone which means thick soup. Three basic ingredients, onions, celery and carrots are the good foundation as a flavor base to make a good soup. Don’t throw away the stems of basil and parsley, just chop and add at the earlier cooking for extra flavor and nutrients. In my freezer, I have a stash of parmesan rind, I collect them too. It is a perfect addition to this soup while cooking. Parmesan rind adds a depth layer of flavor to the soup.
A piping hot soup is something to look forward to when the cold gray day of winter drag on and on. Although I love the classic minestrone, to make a meal in a bowl; it needs something, protein meaning meat. With added lean chicken breast is my version of light and healthy that is filling and satisfying.
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin oil plus extra for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 celery ribs, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 chicken breast, chunky sliced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 6 cups chicken stock, see my recipe or use store bought
- 1 can – 28 oz diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning **see note
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
- 2 bayleaf
- parmesan rind(optional)
- 1 medium zucchini
- 6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 – inch pieces
- 1 cup small pasta
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¾ cup lightly packed grated parmesan cheese(optional)
- In a medium-size pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in medium-high heat. Place the onion, celery and carrots and saute until the onion is translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and cabbage, and continue cooking while stirring for a minute.
- Add chicken pieces, chicken stock, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, bay leaf and parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring once in a while. Lower the heat to low and continue simmering for 30 minutes. Add the green beans and pasta and continue simmering for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, parsley and basil. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the pasta is cooked aldente. Discard the bay leaf and parmesan rind. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste. Ladle the soup in a bowl, drizzle extra virgin olive oil, and finish with parmesan cheese on top and serve.