Today is a combination recipe and blog post – two for one!
This recipe was inspired by a Weight Watchers recipe from decades ago. It was supposed to be comprised of vegetables that didn’t “count.” Although I watch my carbs now, counting calories and points is a thing of the past for me. It didn’t work. I just felt deprived and hungry all the time and a sense of failure if I slipped the least little bit. Finally though, after a lifetime of weight struggles, I have managed lose weight and keep it off. In the end it was a health decision, as my excess weight has impacted several conditions that may be hereditary, but have probably been exacerbated by it. I give a lot of credit to my long suffering physician whose support and guidance have been key. It has taken me years and I still have a few pounds to go, but somehow I have adopted changes – dietary and lifestyle – that have worked. Don’t get me wrong, I still am and will always be a sugar addict. I have to acknowledge it will always be a struggle. There will never be a day that I’m not tempted. I still have dessert, and when holidays arrive, I bake and make stuff, and enjoy it, too, knowing it is temporary.
One thing I try not to do anymore is punish myself. That is a struggle, too. I punished and shamed myself for being overweight from a young age throughout my entire life. And I believe more than 50 years of that is enough. I was very careful about feeding our girls healthy meals and snacks, didn’t rely on convenience and pre-packaged foods, and made much of their baby food myself at a time when it wasn’t all the rage. In spite of that, I feel I’ve done a disservice to them with my body hatred. It is taught, an unwelcome heirloom that is handed down whether or not it is intended to be. It was not a good way to guide them to accept themselves when I so obviously didn’t feel that way about myself. I won’t get into the sick society that has perpetuated a warped view of what comprises human beauty and worth.
But, it’s never too late to make personal changes. I no longer try to adhere to strict or fad diets. Portion control is key for me, and keeping trigger foods out of the house most of the time. Tim has made dietary adjustments, too, and contributes by cutting up enough fresh veggies every weekend to provide lunches for us for the rest of the week. I would never take the time every day at lunch to prepare fresh vegetables, so this is a huge help. No two metabolisms could be more opposite, but we both have benefited. Sometimes, if he wants a box of cookies, instead of having them sitting there tempting me – the entire box rides to work with him. It sounds crazy, but it’s important to identify one’s weaknesses.
So, back to this soup. I like to feel full and a hearty cup of hot, savory soup satisfies and provides great nutrition. And, if you take a peek at the 10-day forecast, it’s not going to warm up much in the near future. This recipe is simply a guideline and can be tweaked to suit your taste. I didn’t have any green beans, but had some leftover peas. They are a starchy veggie, but there weren’t a lot of them. I love using the herbs I dried last summer and my wonderful new Lodge Dutch oven. The best thing about this soup is that it is ready in a snap in the middle of the day.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small sweet onion, chopped, about 1/2 cup
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ small to medium head green cabbage, sliced thin
4 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
4 carrots, slice thin
1 medium to large zucchini, chopped
1 medium to large summer squash, chopped
1 14½ oz. can stewed tomatoes, roughly chopped, do not drain
1 14 ½ oz. can diced tomatoes, do not drain
1 pound frozen cut green beans
2 – 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Sea salt to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink)
Freshly ground black pepper
Generous shake of dried red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high and sauté onion until golden. Turn heat to medium and add garlic; cook 1 minute more. Add celery, cook another five minutes, and then add carrots, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes. Stir in seasonings, balsamic vinegar, and water. Add cabbage and cover. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes. My stovetop is very hot, so adjust cooking temperatures. Vegetables should be very tender. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Cool, remove bay leaf, then ladle into serving size containers. Refrigerate or freeze.
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