Those of you who have ever been on the Weight Watchers diet are undoubtedly intimately familiar with Garden Vegetable Soup. Made with broth and a variety of low-calorie vegetables, this soup has been a lifeline for dieters everywhere, most likely since it was created in the test kitchens at Weight Watchers. Per cup, it has approximately sixty calories and plenty of fiber - a filling, waist-friendly meal or side dish.
This soup was probably one of the first things I learned how to make. When I was home for a summer during college, my mother was began Weight Watchers. While that didn't stop me from eating chocolate ice cream every night, it did force me to adapt healthier eating habits during meals, like dressing my salads with balsamic vinegar instead of fattening vinaigrettes, skipping the bread basket in restaurants and beginning each day with a healthy breakfast - like low-fat yogurt and an english muffin or oatmeal made with skim milk.
I still do most of these things today, including the chocolate ice cream. But with mom on Weight Watchers, we began cooking a lot of healtheir meals as a family. This Garden Vegetable soup became a mainstay in our fridge/freezer and one that I continued to make when I returned to my college apartment determined to continue some of my healthy eating habits.
The best thing about this recipe is that you can start with the basic one that Weight Watchers provides and doctor it to your liking. I've seen it made with rice, pasta, mushrooms, spinach....the possibilities are pretty much endless. Recently, I bought the ingredients to make the soup in it's original form when I wound up with strep throat for five days. Since it was pretty much painful to eat anything that wasn't liquid, I went ahead and made the soup but pureed it to give it a thicker consistency.Hence, the "remix."
Weight Watcher's Garden Vegetable Soup
6 cups broth (I use reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, whatever is on hand)
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
4 teaspoons garlic (from a jar or substitute four cloves minced garlic)
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped (you can also use a bag of slaw - but I prefer the fresh cabbage, chopped into thick slices. If you're pureeing, it doesn't really matter)
1/2 pound frozen green beans (You can also use the fresh ones but I find frozen to be just as good)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large zucchini, diced
1. Spray a large stock pot with cooking spray and heat on medium high. Add the carrots, onion and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant.2. Add the broth, tomato paste, basil, oregano, cabbage and string beans* and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the beans are tender. You may need to uncover and stir every five minutes or so.
3. Add the zucchini and cook until the zucchini are tender. If desired, puree in a blender or food processor. Makes about 8 cups.
*If you are adding any other vegetables, add at step 2. For pasta, follow instructions on the package and add according to cooking times.
I like to top the soup with a little bit of parmesan cheese, as it complements the Italian flavors of tomato, basil and oregano nicely. The soup pairs nicely with salads, sandwiches or crusty whole-wheat bread. If I'm feeling creative, I'll toss in whatever veggies I have on hand - especially mushrooms. It's a great recipe to add some creativity to or delicious to enjoy as is.
What are your favorite recipes to "doctor up?"