Winter Veggie Minestrone Soup

Here in the Midwest, 2014 started off with a bang. Or rather, a blast. A big blast. A big blasty blast of chilling artic air and subzero temperatures and what seemed to be endless amounts of that white stuff that often falls out of the sky in January.

Enter Polar Vortex.

Now, I am certainly not one to complain about the weather. I live in Chicagoland. I expect summer days that reach boiling point (almost) and frozen winter days. 25° and icy? No problem! I have a wool coat for that. 10° with high winds and snowing? Piece of cake! I have a parka for that and fancy pair of long underwear that you can wear under your jeans. Bring on the marshmallow world! (Cue Dean Martin…)

However… -20° with wind chills down to -50°? I have a snow day for that and a free ticket to stay inside with my warm fleece blanket and a hot toddy.

You know how people fry eggs on the sidewalk in the summer? Last week here in Chicago, people were freezing eggs on the sidewalk just to see how long it would take in the frozen tundra that was the Midwest. (It took 7 minutes, FYI. Cool. Literally. Haha.)

The winds alone were enough to cause white outs when it wasn’t snowing. It was too cold for the usual ice melting agents to handle the roads. Schools were closed. Interstates were shutdown. It was declared a state of emergency in three counties in Indiana and law enforcement officials were ticketing people who were out driving in my neck of the woods. It would have been illegal for me to attempt to make it to downtown Chicago last Monday and Tuesday.

Photo by Nicci Brown

View from my front door. Photo by Nicci Brown

So there I was, warm and cozy and happy to watch the majesty of the winter landscape through my front door, amazed that I got not one but TWO snow days as a graduate student. And all I could think about was: What on earth are we going to eat?

Now, I’ve mentioned before that I currently reside in my parents’ comfortable abode while I finish grad school. Some might call this freeloading, but it’s beneficial for all involved parties. Most days my mom makes me dinner, but on days when it’s time to play in the snow, I do the cooking.

As it turns out, coats that can help you survive a Polar Vortex do exist, and my parents own them. While my dad was out serving libations to the neighbors with snow plows and my mom was out frolicking with our snow dog, I was inside, hungry, contemplating lunch.

Enter Winter Veggie Minestrone Soup: The perfect remedy to a Polar Vortex.

Not only is this soup delicious with a garden fresh taste, but it also provides a blast of nutrition that we all need in the winter months. And most of the ingredients are pantry staples – chick peas, cannellini beans, diced tomatoes, corn, chicken broth, fresh garlic, onion – along with some pretty common refrigerator items (spinach, zucchini, carrots).

Photo by Nicci Brown

Did I mention it’s easy to make, too? Step one: Pour chicken broth in a pot. Step two: Open all the cans and dump them in the pot. Step three: Chop a few vegetables and dump them in the pot. A little shake shake here of spices and a little shake shake there of dried herbs and lo and behold: a culinary delight.  A delicious, nutritious, warm hug of a meal, given the stamp of approval by snowbirds and hibernators alike.

Read on for the recipe and nutrition information – you won’t be disappointed!

Winter Veggie Minestrone Soup
A Nicci Brown Original Recipe

Serving Size: 1.5 cups
Makes: 20 servings


  • 96 oz Swanson chicken broth*
  • 2 15-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 11-ounce can Green Giant white shoepeg corn, rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can chick peas, rinsed
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 small diced purple onion
  • 9 cloves garlic, slivered
  • 9 ounce (1 package) fresh baby spinach, stems removed
  • 5 medium diced carrots
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 3 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • Separate: Ditali or other pasta or rice

*For a heart healthy swap, try low sodium broth
*To make this dish entirely vegetarian, try vegetable broth


  1. In an 8-quart soup pot, combine broth and canned goods. Be sure to rinse the corn, chick peas, and beans to rinse off excess sodium.
  2. Stir in onion, garlic, spinach, carrots, zucchini, and spices.
  3. Simmer 1-2 hours.
  4. Serve over ditali pasta, rice, or other pasta.
  5. Note: This recipe freezes great and is good in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Serving Size: 1.5 cups soup (pasta/rice not included)
Calories: 90
Total Fat: 1 grams
Sodium: 570 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 18 grams
Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Sugars: 2.5 grams
Protein: 5.5 gram
Vitamin A: 53% DV (2680 IUs)
Iron: 10% DV (1.8 mg)

2 Responses to “Winter Veggie Minestrone Soup”
  1. Sarah says:

    Sounds great Nicci! Love the chick peas in it :)

  2. Carol Brown says:

    Yummy in my tummy Nicci, especially in this very, cold, snowy weather. I can’t wait to try it. You are quite a girl and a good cook with good ideas. Love you , Gramma

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