Soup is great when you are watching your diet. Watery foods fill you up and help keep you hydrated. A broth-based soup full of vegetables has relatively low calories compared to its serving size.
Adding fibrous ingredients, such as beans, and lean proteins like chicken will help keep you full, too. A store-bought rotisserie chicken can save time and add flavor. Just remove any cartilage, skin, and fat.
White beans come in a few varieties, any of which work nicely. Cannellini beans are large and kidney-shaped. They have a slightly nutty taste, thin skin, and tender, creamy flesh. Great Northern beans are smaller and slightly grainy, with a nutty, dense flavor. Navy beans are small, oval-shaped, and cook quickly.
Most soups start with three ingredients: onion, carrots and celery. The French call this mirepoix. By finely chopping these three ingredients and cooking them until very soft, they actually thicken the soup.
If you don’t have time for all that chopping, you can buy pre-cut mirepoix at most grocery stores. However, it tends to be courser. Run your knife through the chopped veggies a few more times to get them finer.
I like a lot of stuff in my soup, the chunkier the better. If you prefer it on the thinner side, add more broth. Because carrots and celery are the main ingredients, courser cuts add to the chunky-factor.
Of course, when adding fresh vegetables to any dish, make sure you have washed them thoroughly.
Tuscan Chicken and White Bean Soup
-1½ lbs. cooked chicken
-1½ qts. chicken broth
-1 c. celery, finely chopped
-1 c. carrots, finely chopped
-1 c. onion, finely chopped
-1 large can white beans
-1 c. baby carrots, coarsely chopped
-1 to 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
-1 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
-1 c. cooked green beans, slivered
-½ c. sweet bell pepper, coarsely chopped
-1 small jalapeño, de-seeded and finely chopped
-2 to 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
-1 to 2 T. olive oil
-1 t. good quality chicken soup base
-Seasoning blend (Herbs of Provence or Mrs. Dash)
-1 to 2 T. fresh chopped parsley for garnish
In a five-quart pot, simmer the olive oil with the mirepoix until soft. Give it a little squish with a potato masher—not enough to make it mushy, just a few times to break it down a bit.
Add garlic and bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes to release the flavor of the garlic. You may need another drizzle of olive oil.
Once the peppers soften, add the remaining vegetables, the chicken broth, and soup base. Turn up the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the beans and chicken. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season the chicken and vegetables as you go, so you can control the flavor.
Serve hot and topped with parsley. Makes four to six large bowls of soup (a little more if you add extra broth). I like to portion out the servings and refrigerate them right away, so they are ready for me when I’m rushing out the door in the morning. Enjoy!