It’s so easy to prepare and you could make a double batch and freeze it for a quick “go to meal” in a pinch.
The fresh, organic vegetables and mix of herbs are so aromatic, that they bring a warm smile to your face. And knowing that you are eating a healthy and hearty meal, without actually weighing you down with unhealthy ingredients will also put a nice smile on your face.
Cannellini beans are large white beans with a firm texture and nutty flavor and are very popular in Italian cuisine. They hold their shape well and are therefore used in soups, salads, stews and numerous other healthy dishes. Like its relative the kidney bean, the cannellini bean must always be cooked properly as raw cannellini beans contain high levels of toxic lectins which can cause serious health problems. When they are boiled long enough they lose their toxicity and become a real super food containing about 6 grams of protein in a 1/2 cup serving. For this recipe I used Whole Foods Market boxed organic cannellini beans that are ready to serve. If you have the dry bean version, just make sure to soak them overnight and cook them well prior to adding them to the recipe.
Cannellini beans are one of the least glycemic beans, (rating of 31)and this low GI rating is responsible for many of the health benefits of cannellini beans. The glycemic index is used to rank foods based on how they affect your blood sugar levels. When you eat foods with a high GI value (e.g. white bread, potatoes, and sugary breakfast cereals), your blood sugar will spike up very quickly. Although after peaking, the blood sugar levels drop dramatically. This volatility in blood sugar levels has been implicated in the etiology of many health problems such as diabetes, increased sugar cravings, abnormal changes in mood, lack of energy, and hypertension and heart disease.
Eating low GI foods like cannelli beans will help avoid those sudden “sugar” spikes and will also metabolize slowly providing a steady flow of energy for hours. This will help to stave off cravings for hours.
These pretty white beans are also packed with antioxidants that protect your skin and the rest of your body from free radicals that damage cells. These free radicals include Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, diabetes and even dimentia. By incorporating healthy ingredients into your meals will definitely help your body to become healthier and provide a better life for you. So eat your veggies! Stay warm and as always, Enjoy!
Cold Day Cannellini Bean & Vegetable Soup with Orzo Pasta
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, diced, about 1 cup
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 medium zucchini, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried sage
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups vegetable broth (you may substitute with chicken broth)
- 14 1/2 ounces San Marzano tomatoes with their juice, (cut up the tomatoes with kitchen shears)
- 13.4 ounces cannellini beans, 1/2 mashed with the back of a spoon
- 3 ounces fresh baby spinach or fresh kale (leaves off the stalk)
- 1/2 cup fresh parmigiano reggiano cheese, grated (optional)
- 4 inch piece of parmigiano reggiano cheese rind
- 2 cups cooked orzo pasta
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, zucchini, garlic, thyme, sage, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and cook stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add in the broth, tomatoes with their juice and the cheese rind and bring to a boil. Add the mashed and whole beans and the spinach or kale leaves. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
In a separate pot prepare the orzo pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
Add 1/4 cup cooked pasta in each soup bowl, ladle in the vegetable soup and top each serving with some of the grated cheese.