Janel, a Registered Dietitian who follows a vegetarian diet, promotes no-nonsense, plant-based cooking so that eating is both healthful and enjoyable. Janel has a masterís degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University in Boston.

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Janel's Vegetarian Kitchen

by Janel Ovrut, MS, RD, LDN

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One of my favorite winter meals is a big bowl of steamy soup. Soup can be so easy to make and a big batch will carry you through meals during the week, with leftover servings to freeze and defrost in a pinch.

You can add almost anything to a big boiling pot of soup - veggies, leftover meat, beans, rice, pasta... you name it!

Minestrone soup is my idea of a perfect combo of veggies, whole wheat pasta, and protein-packed beans: a complete meal in a bowl!

Pair some soup with a whole wheat roll or crusty bread and you'll be swooning over soup for the rest of the winter... which hopefully won't be too much longer!

Here's how I made my minestrone soup:

  • 1 package pre-cooked lentils (about 16 oz.)
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed (to remove excess sodium)
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with the liquid
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped into bite sized pieces (Kale, spinach or collards would work well too)
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 small white onions, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2.5 quarts water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • Whole wheat pasta (about 2 cups cooked)

    1. Chop the carrots and onions and sauté them in about 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large pot for about 10 minutes. Then add the diced tomatoes and liquid and cook another 5 minutes.

    2. Add lentils, beans, and 2.5 quarts of water to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste, and basil leaves (or any herbs/spices you like for flavor!). Simmer for about 30 minutes on low.

    Trying to fit in fitness? I was even able to pop in and complete a 30-minute yoga DVD while this soup was simmering. Just think... food and fitness all rolled into one!

    3. Meanwhile, cook whole wheat pasta in a separate pot and set aside when done cooking. For the most fiber and nutrients, use whole wheat pasta. I used a sample of Dreamfields Pasta which looks and tastes like white pasta but has 5g of fiber per serving. This is a great pasta to try if you're not a fan of whole wheat flavor.

    4. Add in the chopped chard and simmer for another 5-10 minutes on low until the chard wilts.

    5. Place 1/2 cup of cooked pasta in a bowl and ladle soup on top. Spoon... slurp... enjoy!

    Meanwhile, if you hunger for more great meatless recipes, be sure to check out the 700+ vegetarian recipes served up daily right here at Diet.com!

    Janel Ovrut, MS RD LDN is a Registered Dietitian who follows a vegetarian diet. She promotes no-nonsense, plant-based cooking so that eating is both healthful and enjoyable. Janel has a Master's degree in nutrition communication from Tufts University in Boston, MA. You can read many more of her blog posts at Eat Well With Janel.

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