Whoa. It is COLD in Chicago today. Holy moly.
I left my makeup bag by the window last night and it literally turned my mascara into this thick goopy mess that makes my eyelashes look like tarantula legs on steroids. I’m going to need an ice pick to get out my moisturizer.
But the good thing about freezy cold days are that they make for the best cozy nights at home! One of my favorite parts of December is coming home after a long day of Christmas shopping in the cold, plopping down on my couch with a big bowl of soup, and watching Christmas movies all night.
And what makes coming home even better is when the soup is already done. Because after 6 hour mall marathons, epic parking space battles in the parking lot, and mile long lines, I actually turn into a monster. 2 steps lower than Scrooge. The kind of monster that would eat a plate of Christmas cookies for dinner. Scratch that. Cookie dough. Probably dipped in peanut butter. Because I’m usually exhausted…and hungry! And apparently my comfort food is whatever can clog my arteries the quickest.
Which is exactly why soup is the Christmas miracle worker, its the absolute perfect way to come home. You can make it on Sunday and you magically have dinner all week. Leave out the orzo and this soup freezes great too. Dinner for 3 months! Because beyond shopping, we all have Christmas parties, gift exchanges, tree decorating, and more – this is a quick and easy way to sneak in a few healthy dinners when we have barely any time to even fit in all the parties!
But the most important thing to take away from this post is that this soup is DELISH! I come from a long line of Italians and we take our minestrone very seriously. I want a hearty bowl of rich flavor. Most minestrone recipes you find will probably coax out some yummy flavor with a little meat – pancetta – but I really wanted a vegetarian bowl of soup with just as much comfort. I added a little tomato paste to help intensify that yummy tomato flavor, and the perfect balance of basil and oregano. I like orzo in mine but you can absolutely sub in any pasta you like. Same goes for veg – if you have green beans in the frig, throw those in. Change up the beans. This is a great base recipe for making it your own.
To make this freezer friendly – cook the pasta separately from the soup. The pasta will not freeze well. Add in fresh cooked pasta when it is time to eat.
Yields 6-8 servings
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 celery, chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 cups lower sodium chicken broth
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably San Marzano, makes a HUGE difference!)
- 2/3 cup whole wheat orzo
- 1 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cups spinach
- Heat olive oil in a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, basil, and oregano. Cook 6-7 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomato pasta and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add broth and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
- After simmering for 10 minutes add the orzo and continue to simmer another 12-15 minutes or until the orzo is cooked al dente (you don’t want to cook all the way because they will continue to cook as they sit in the pot).
- Add white beans and spinach and cook another 2-3 minutes until spinach is wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.