Hearty Minestrone

Hearty Minestrone

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From: EatingWell Magazine, Holiday Issue 1996

This version of the Italian classic soup Minestrone is packed with leeks, potatoes, beans, zucchini, spinach and orzo, making it perfect for a hearty lunch or supper on a cold winter's night. To make a vegetarian version use vegetable rather than chicken broth. Top each bowl with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for a zesty burst of flavor.

Ingredients 4 servings

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Original recipe yields 4 servings
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  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium leeks, trimmed, washed (see Tip) and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large red potato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup whole-wheat orzo
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 2 medium zucchini, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound fresh spinach, stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano


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  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add broth, water, potato, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Add orzo and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 5 minutes. Add beans and zucchini and continue to cook, partially covered, until the vegetables and pasta are tender, about 8 minutes more.
  3. Stir in spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season the soup with vinegar. Ladle into bowls and garnish with Parmesan.
  • Tip: To clean leeks, trim and discard green tops and white roots. Split leeks lengthwise and place in plenty of water. Swish the leeks in the water to release any sand or soil. Drain. Repeat until no grit remains.

Nutrition information

  • Per serving: 299 calories; 5 g fat(1 g sat); 14 g fiber; 54 g carbohydrates; 18 g protein; 375 mcg folate; 2 mg cholesterol; 7 g sugars; 11,989 IU vitamin A; 62 mg vitamin C; 250 mg calcium; 7 mg iron; 1,080 mg sodium; 1,683 mg potassium
  • Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (240% daily value), Vitamin C (103% dv), Folate (94% dv), Iron (39% dv), Calcium (25% dv)
  • Carbohydrate Servings:
  • Exchanges: 2½ starch, 2 vegetable, 1 plant-based protein, ½ fat

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