This soup is delicious and heart warming. Serve it in large bowls with crusty bread and a salad for a main course or in smaller portions as an appetizer. For a vegetarian vwasion, omit the ham and use vegetable stock or water instead of chicken stock.

Any leftover soup will be very thick. You can reheat the soup and thin with extra liquid, or add cubes of bread and more cheese and bake it in a casserole at 350 F for about 30 minutes. It will be like a ribollita – a casserole made with leftover minestrone.

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes, optional
  • 28 ounce (796 ml) can plum tomatoes, with juice
  • 4 cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 ounces (60 g) smoked ham, in one piece, trimmed of any fat, optional
  • 19 ounce (540 g) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained or 2 cups cooked beans
  • 1 cup small wholewheat macaroni or soup pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and carrot and cooked for 5 to 7 minutes, or until tender. Add hot pepper flakes.
  2. Add tomatoes with their juices and break up tomatoes with a spoon. Add stock and bring to a boil. Add ham, reduce heat and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
  3. Add beans and cook for 10 minutes. Remove ham (dice and use as a garnish if you wish).
  4. Puree half of the soup and return all soup to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, or until pasta is very tender. Stir often. If soup is too thick, add some water. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve sprinkled with Parmesan.

Per serving:

  • Calories 181
  • Protein 10 g
  • Fat 4 g
  • Saturates 1 g
  • Cholesterol 2 mg
  • Carbohydrate 29 g
  • Fibre 7 g
  • Sodium 371 mg
  • Potassium 516 mg

Excellent: Vitamin A, Good: Niacin, Folate

– book, by Bonnie Stern, called “Heart Smart” in co-operation with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

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