Easy Minestrone Soup

This is a simple and utterly delicious soup that you can make in about 30 minutes. It feeds six generously, and it's perfect for a cold winter day.

And like almost all of the best laughably cheap recipes here at Casual Kitchen, this one comes in at well under a buck a serving. That's right: yet another recipe that's so inexpensive, it literally makes you laugh out loud. Once again, it's pure fiction that healthy, delicious food has to be expensive or difficult to prepare.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Enjoy!

Easy Minestrone Soup

5 slices bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (more or less to taste)
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 15-ounce can chickpeas
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 bouillon cubes
8 cups water

1) In a large soup pot, fry the bacon until crispy. Set bacon aside and drain all but about 2-3 Tablespoons of bacon drippings from the pot.*

2) Add the onion, celery and garlic to the remaining bacon drippings and saute for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Add the black pepper and carrots and saute for another 2-3 minutes.

3) Add 1 cup of water and deglaze the bottom of the soup pot. Then add the remaining water and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are cooked to your liking. Serve into bowls, and crumble the reserved bacon over the top of each bowl. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-7.
Recipe Notes:
1) * A confession regarding bacon drippings: Readers, when I make this recipe, I don't drain away any of the bacon drippings--and I saute those veggies in all of that glorious, artery-clogging fat. Partly it's due to the influence of books like Why We Get Fat and Wheat Belly: I'm simply not as aggressive as I used to be about reducing our fat intake. Your mileage (and your conclusions on dietary fat) may vary, so feel free to use the amount of fat in this recipe you wish to.

I'm quite curious to hear what other readers have to say about this issue: Do you drain away excess fat in your recipes, or do you keep it all in there? Why? If you have thoughts, share them in the comments!

2) Cost rundown:

5 slices bacon: $1.20
Onion: 20c
Carrots: 50c
Celery: 50c
Garlic: 10c
Chick peas: 67c
Cannellini beans: 67c
Frozen peas: 30c
Diced Tomatoes: 67c

Total cost: about $4.81, or about 80c a serving.

Related Posts:
The 25 Best Laughably Cheap Recipes at Casual Kitchen
Black Beans and Rice: Laughably Cheap Comfort Food
Eight Tips to Make Cooking At Home Laughably Cheap
Laughably Cheap Carrot and Fresh Cabbage Curry
Yellow Split Pea Soup: Hearty, Healthy and Laughably Cheap

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Erin Beth said...

Your philosophy about the fat is interesting - I guess for me I'm also not super concerned about the fat intake, just whether the fat will make the final dish greasy or unappealing. For example, for something like your soup or chili, I cook the meat, then sautee the vegetables in the fat and add it all to the pot. For tacos, I cook the beef and drain the fat because I feel if the fat is left with the meat it will be too greasy/messy.

Daniel said...

Good point Erin and I tend to agree with you. It's funny, I used to not think like this at all. I was *always* looking for ways to strip fat and oils out of recipes. But after reading Why We Get Fat, I'm finding my views are evolving on this front.

Thanks for your thoughts!


Martha said...

I too usually leave the fat in...both for the calories and the satiety-factor. I am feeding big, hungry, hard-working boys! I do try to use natural fats, and nothing processed or hydrogenated. I use butter, animal fats, and cold-pressed oils as I think they are healthier and what our bodies were designed to use.
Thanks for the great recipes, I use at least one a week!

Sally said...

I do exactly what you and Erin Beth do and agree with Martha.

I came of age believing that fat, all fat, was bad. About 10-12 years ago I was reading a book about the Mediterranean diet. The author was talking about the consumption of dairy foods in the region, but especially in Greece, in the 1950s/1960s (when Ancel Keys was doing his research). It suddenly occurred to me that those Greeks, with their healthy cholesterol levels and low rates of heart disease and strokes, ate only full-fat dairy products.

Sometime after that I was reading about cholesterol and found mention of Dr. Paul Dudley White (President Eisenhower's cardiologist). He started practicing cardiology in about 1920 and it was eight years before he saw a patient with a heart attack. This was when the primary fats in the American diet were butter and lard.

It made sense to me that in terms of weight and health, fats weren't the issue. (But then, I don't think carbs, even refined carbs, are either.)

chacha1 said...

This sounds DELICIOUS ... and thank you for giving us lazy cooks the option of canned beans. Thanks for the bacon, too. :-)

We also do not drain off or trim fat anymore. Like Martha, it's butter, animal fats, and cold-pressed oils chez nous.

When I use ground meat, it's always either grassfed beef or bison, and the fat that renders out is negligible compared to old-fashioned ground beef. Ground meat is always used in a ratio of about 1 lb meat to 3 lbs vegetables (or even 1:4).

I do use nonfat or reduced-fat milk and yogurt most of the time. DH uses raw whole milk and raw-milk butter.

Recently made spaghetti for the first time in a long time ... and discovered I really prefer cabbage now under my red sauce! The palate evolves.

Anonymous said...

CHACHA1 - Red sauce over cabbage? Do you use cabbage to replace the pasta? How do you prepare the cabbage? & How do you make your red sauce - meaty or more like primavera?

I'd love to learn new ways to use/eat cabbage...

As for the original question, I'd use olive oil in this recipe & I am a glug-gluger - I don't measure, just pour.

Re: ground beef/turkey/bison not unlike others, I generally do not drain.

soup sounds good - I may try it vegan style! (I'm not vegan by any stretch, but I do enjoy a good meatless meal wherever & whenever I can.)

chacha1 said...

Anon, just chop your head of cabbage into forkable bits and saute over medium-high heat with an ounce of olive oil until slightly browned and softened. I cook mine in a large risotto-type pan (rounded bottom) and move it around frequently. Takes about a half hour total.

You can then add whatever kind of sauce you like. I do tomato-based sauces bottled sauces for convenience, but also cheese & cream ... and a beef stroganoff with cabbage instead of egg noodles, yum.

I usually use half a head of cabbage and cook it with an entire, chopped sweet onion. Fennel and leeks work, too. :-)