Mighty Minestrone Soup

Gluten-free, vegan minestrone

Never underestimate the power of a humble bowl of vegetable soup.

On bone-chilling winter days, nothing says comfort like a steaming bowl of warm broth and vegetables. A treasure-chest of nutrients, this easy minestrone soup packs loads of vitamins and minerals into every spoonful. If, like me, you’re continually making an effort to incorporate more fresh produce into your diet, than you’ll definitely want to add this nourishing one-pot meal to your arsenal!

With colds and flus spreading like wildfire through our communities this time of year, we have all the more reason to support our immune systems with megawatt nutrition so that our bodies can combat whatever bug comes their way. Vegetables are the foundation of an immune-boosting diet.

Let’s take a look at a few of the vegetables you’ll find in this soup and just what it is that they do for our bodies:

  • Root vegetables are the all-stars of winter produce. Packed with vitamin A and other antioxidants, carrots are particularly beneficial for eye health and also offer protection for the cardiovascular system. Parsnips, a close relative of carrots, provide a good source of fiber as well as potassium.
  • Onions and garlic give delicious savory flavor to this soup while also packing in some great nutrition. Both members of the allium family, onions and garlic contain sulphur molecules that have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects in the body.
  • Mushrooms, although not often highlighted for their nutritional profile, provide a very good source of trace minerals like selenium and copper. Trace minerals are required by the body for dozens of vital functions including cell growth, muscle repair, and immune system defense.
  • Kale, chard, or any dark leafy green is guaranteed to offer you a wide array of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants as well as fiber and folate. Calorie for calorie, dark greens deliver more nutrients than all other vegetables, so incorporate them into your meals whenever you can!

To bump up the savory, earthy quality of this minestrone, I add one other special ingredient: fresh rosemary. Just one tablespoon infuses the broth with a hearty, almost woodsy flavor that is perfect for chilly weather.

Serve the soup with your favorite cracker for dipping, or try these grain-free Garlic Herb Crackers (pictured below).

Grain-free, gluten-free crackers

What are your favorite soups and stews to warm up with this time of year?

Mighty Minestrone
Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups (packed) chopped kale or chard
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery, onion, green beans, mushrooms, and parsnips. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.

Add the garlic, tomato paste, and rosemary. Stir for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring the soup to a boil. Stir in the kale. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the parsnips are just tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the beans and cook for 2 minutes to heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Hallie Klecker is the author of The Pure Kitchen, a gluten- and dairy-free cookbook with over 100 healthful recipes. She also writes the recipe blog Daily Bites, where she shares her passion for cooking with whole, natural foods. Hallie is a certified Nutrition Educator and former personal chef.

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