Around this time of the year – with all of the frigid temperatures and dark days and snow and healthier eating resolutions that follow after all of the holiday feasting – there is nothing more satisfying than a big pot of homemade vegetable soup simmering on the stove top!
These days I have been making my own version of Italian minestrone soup with plenty of healthy veggies and cannellini white beans and topping it off with something that makes it extra special, satisfying, and delicious: pesto!
Serve it with plenty of toasted Italian or garlic bread, and it’s filling and satisfying enough for a vegan meal.
A homemade vegetable soup does require a day when you have a little extra time on your hands (this recipe takes about one hour in total).
But it’s so worth it.
A big bowl of steaming soup fresh from the stove top is worlds beyond anything you’d ever get out of a can.
And the wide variety of really nutritious ingredients in this soup (celery, carrots, cabbage, and white beans, along with arugula and sunflower seeds in the pesto) have me believing that a homemade soup has got to be one of the healthiest meals around!
Per serving, this soup has: no cholesterol, very low saturated fat (1.6g), and tons of vitamin A (99%DV), Vitamin C (36% DV), Iron (12% DV), Potassium (18% DV), and Fiber (28% DV).
This soup holds up really well as leftovers too, so it’s the perfect recipe to cook on the weekend – then you’ll have ready-to-go healthy lunches that can be heated in the microwave throughout the week.
(It tastes best, in my opinion, to store the pesto in a separate container (in an airtight container in the fridge) and then stir in a dollop just after heating up the soup.)
Here is the complete, printable recipe:
- Serving size: 8
- Calories: 198
- Fat: 11.7g
- Saturated fat: 1.6g
- Carbohydrates: 20g
- Sugar: 6.7g
- Sodium: 436mg
- Fiber: 7.1g
- Protein: 5.4g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Hands-On Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 8 servings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 4 medium ribs celery, chopped
- 3 large carrots, chopped
- ⅔ cup green cabbage, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
- 26 ounces chopped tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
- 50 ounces organic vegetable broth
- 15-ounce container cannellini white beans, thoroughly drained and rinsed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
- 2½ ounces arugula
- ½ clove garlic
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 cloves garlic, along with the onion, celery, carrots, and cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes. Add Herbes de Provence, chopped tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Stir until well combined, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and tender, about 30 minutes. Add white beans, stir until combined, and cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Meanwhile, as soup simmers, prepare the Pesto:
- Add the toasted sunflower seeds, arugula, and ½ clove garlic to a food processor. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and pulse until ingredients have become a puree. Add the olive oil and pulse again until oil is well combined.
- To serve: Ladle soup into serving bowls. Stir a dollop of pesto into each bowl.
And for the step-by-step instructions…
…Begin with all of these ingredients.
And start by prepping some veggies.
Grab a couple of cloves of garlic and hold your knife over each and press down, breaking up the cloves.
Then peel off the outer skin, pile up the garlic and run your knife through it in every direction, mincing it up.
Next, grab a small onion and chop off the root end.
Then cut it in half and peel off the outer skin.
Place each half flat-side-down on the cutting board for stability, and chop it up.
Next, grab a few ribs of celery and chop off both the top and bottom ends to toss away.
Then chop up the celery.
Also, grab a few carrots and chop off the tops and bottoms to toss out.
Slice them in half lengthwise, place the flat sides down on the cutting board for stability, and chop up the carrots.
To save time: there is no need to peel the carrots – you won’t be able to taste or detect the skin after cooking.
The last veggie to prep is one of my new favorites this winter: green cabbage!
I know it’s not the most glamorous ingredient.
But I am a big fan because it’s in season right now, and it’s extremely healthy (a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber).
It has a really mild flavor but it holds onto its firm, crisp texture even after simmering in this soup.
Just chop off the stem and peel off the first few layers of leaves.
Then chop it into four quarters.
You’ll notice a solid, dense core in the center of each quarter – just chop that out.
Then chop up the cabbage into bite-sized pieces.
Next, grab a large stock pot and heat some olive oil over medium-high heat.
Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots, and cabbage, and season everything with salt and pepper.
Stir and cook until the vegetables begin to soften.
Then toss in some Herbes de Provence to add lots of flavor, along with some chopped tomatoes and plenty of organic vegetable broth.
Stir it all up, then bring the soup to a boil.
When the soup begins bubbling, reduce the heat to a light simmer, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and tender.
Then season the soup to your taste with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, as the soup is simmering away, you can prepare the pesto.
A traditional pesto is made with fresh basil and pine nuts.
To mix things up a bit for this recipe, I used arugula and sunflower seeds instead.
Just grab a food processor and toss in handfuls of fresh arugula along with about half of one clove of garlic.
Season with a bit of salt and pepper and add some roasted sunflower seeds.
Pulse until the ingredients have become a puree.
Then pour in some extra virgin olive oil and pulse again until the oil is well combined.
Last step: serve it up!
Ladle the soup into serving bowls, then stir a dollop of pesto into each bowl.
This soup is so satisfying and heart-warming on dark, wintry evenings.
The blend of fresh winter veggies and seasonings make the soup really flavorful.
And the pesto – with the peppery arugula, olive oil, and nutty sunflower seeds – adds so much richness and makes the soup extra special and unique.