I wish I could say I was more disciplined party-goer. You know, the ones who say ‘No thanks, I’ve had my quota of two fried thingies already. I’ll just drink water and eat carrot sticks now.’ Instead, I’m the one who’s helping to refill the chip bowl I just devoured, pouring the wine, and reaching for that extra piece of chocolate.
So you can imagine that after two weeks off work, endless holiday parties, epic amounts of eating and drinking, I have acquired a bit of a ‘turkey tummy’. Unlike ‘muffin top’, turkey tummy is more of a gut/pouch situation that is generally limited to the front area of the abdomen. It’s similar to a ‘beer belly’ but induced by high-calorie delicious food/sugar rather than beer. But despite my new profile, I don’t regret one single bite. Life’s too short to say no all the time. Besides, more to love right?
The big challenge after the holidays is squeezing my added curves into my uniform of skinny jeans. I’m also on a budget for the new year, so buying a new collection of stretchy pants is not happening. To offset the few weeks of indulgence, I’m hitting the gym, wearing leggings a lot, and making hearty, healthy, homemade meals like this Italian soup. Jam-packed with flavour, it feels indulgent, especially with a touch of melt-y cheese on top, but it’s pretty light and full of protein and vegetables.
This recipe is adapted from ‘Nourish Canyon Ranch’ Cookbook. Canyon Ranch is an award-winning luxury health resort spa in Arizona. Rumor has it that Madonna and Britney Spears are frequent visitors and Tiger Woods went there for his ‘rehab.’ I wonder if they had this soup while they were
This soup is perfect as a starter or a light meal. If you like it spicy, pickled hot Italian peppers would be a great add-on. I enjoyed this soup on the weekend with some buttered gluten-free toast. I put the rest of the soup in the freezer to keep my insides warm all winter long and help combat that holiday turkey tummy.
Italian Vegetable Soup with Cannellini Beans (adapted from Nourish)
Serves 4 as main or 6 as starter
- 1 cup diced onions (1 large)
- ½ cup diced celery (about 2 stalks)
- ½ cup diced carrots (about 1 medium)
- 1 ½ cup diced tomato (2 plum tomatoes)
- 1 cup diced zucchini
- ½ cup diced yellow pepper
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 chunk parmesan rind (optional)
- 1 x 14 ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 cups spinach, chiffonade
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese to serve (optional)
- Add olive oil to large sauce pan on medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes. Then add zucchini and pepper and sauté for 5 more minutes
- Add vegetable stock, oregano, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and parmesan rind, if using. Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour.
- Add cannellini beans, spinach, vinegar, and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove parmesan rinds and bay leaves and discard. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and serve.
Recipe Note: Parmesan rinds can be found in the cheese section of most supermarkets. They’re dirt cheap and add a nice salty flavour to the soup. Omit all cheese for vegan option.