At this week’s Weight Watcher meetings we talked about the changing weather and how the foods we’ll be preparing will differ from lighter summer fare. Members voiced concern about what they called fall’s “comfort foods” and how much richer they tend to be. Salads will be replaced by stews, chilis and meaty braises.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of warm, soothing dishes that are every bit as comforting as the classic American combo of meat and potatoes. Here’s a prime example: my first fall foray into cold weather cooking from a Cooking Light cookbook. It’s a garden minestrone made with seven vegetables you can still find at farmer’s markets, including yellow summer squash, zucchini, fresh corn and home-grown (hopefully) tomatoes.
There are several minestrone soup recipes on hungry poodle. Minestrone is basically the Italian version of vegetable soup made with whatever vegetables are in season. I’ll be adding more root vegetables like butternut squash and potatoes later in the year, but for now this lighter soup really hits the spot. And it’s low in WW Points! Go ahead and dig in!
By the way, I’ve given you the Cooking Light recipe, but don’t feel obligated to follow their directions exactly as written. The recipe calls for 4 fresh tomatoes chopped, but I cheated. I opened a 14 1/2-oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained them and added them to the food processor with the broth. Then I chopped up two fresh tomatoes to add to the soup later. Worked beautifully. I also used frozen corn instead of fresh.
No one’s gonna know except you and me. It’s our secret.
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dried oregano)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chopped yellow summer squash
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
4 cups chopped tomato, divided
3 (14-oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta (very short tube-shaped pasta)
1 (15-oz.) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (6-oz.) bag fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and sauté about 3 minutes or until softened. Add oregano and garlic and sauté 1 minute. Stir in squash, zucchini, carrot and corn. Saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove from heat.
Place 3 cups chopped tomato and 1 can chicken broth in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Add tomato mixture to soup pot. Return to heat and stir in remaining 1 cup chopped tomato and remaining 2 cans broth. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes
Remove from heat, stir in spinach, salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper.
Serve soup with grated cheese.
Serves 8 (each serving is 1 1/2 cups and 2 Tbsp. cheese)
WW Points per serving: 5