March 5, 2013

Vegetarian Minestrone: Self-Care for Body and Soul


I took excellent care of my husband Vic when he was ill, but I sometimes falter at self-care now that I’m on my own. I felt dizzy and tired this week after driving too many hours, drinking too much wine (not while driving and, for me, anything more than one small glass is too much), not drinking enough water, and eating too much salt. My tinnitus roared. My neglected body yelled over the tinnitus, “What about me?”

I took my bout of feeling lousy as a reminder to do what I’ve done for so many years. I drank more water, ate less salt, and made myself a pot of soup. Even though I’m cooking for one, I made a full recipe, froze servings for later, and took some to my elderly mother-in-law. I often share soups with friends who are struggling and nearly always make this family favorite when my sons come home to visit.

This minestrone is fast, easy, and smells like Italy. Vic called my soups uni-bowls, a complete meal in a bowl. This one has balanced protein from brown rice and white beans and lots of vegetables. It’s warm, healthy, low in fat and salt, and high in nutrients. Make yourself a pot of soup on a cold winter’s day and inhale the caregiving love.

Minestrone2Sauté in olive oil until lightly browned:
1 large chopped onion
6 cloves chopped garlic
2 sliced or chopped carrots
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Add and cook 30 minute:
1 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
5 cups boiling water
1 can (15 ounces) Eden organic cannellini beans (Eden has bisphenol-A free packaging)
1/3 cup brown rice

Add and cook 10 minutes:
1 large diced potatoMinestrone3

Add and bring to a boil:
8-12 ounces green beans, chopped
1 quart chopped tomatoes—fresh or frozen (pictured above) or 1 box Pomi chopped tomatoes (bisphenol-A free)

Adjust seasoning and add more water or salt if desired
Add a handful of fresh chopped basil or 1-2 frozen basil-olive oil cubes (pictured)
Sprinkle with shredded Romano or Parmesan (optional)

Yields 4 quarts of soup, plenty for a family, plenty to share with friends, or plenty to freeze for busy days


I hope you enjoy some of my other vegetarian soup recipes. My recipes are popular with visitors to my website, so explore my recipes for easy-to-prepare and wholesome vegetarian food. Speaking of care-giving, I have been recognized by as one of 18 Great Caregiver Stories on the Web. I am honored and also inspired to turn my caregiving energy to myself as well as others.


  1. March 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Lynne Taetzsch


    Elaine, cooking for one was difficult for me, too, after my husband died, even though I like to cook. But as you recommend, I freeze portions for later and/or give them to family and friends. Nurturing ourselves is so important! (And like you, I sometimes indulge too much in the wine and salt.) Thanks for the minestrone recipe!


    1. March 9, 2013 at 11:15 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks for reading and I hope you like the recipe. It’s easy. I read a few of your recent blogs tonight and then decided to check my own before going to bed and found your comment here. Perhaps we were cross-talking.
      Stay healthy!

  2. March 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm



    I’ve had Elaine’s loving and nourishing soup…it has magical restorative properties!

    1. March 6, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      You make me laugh, Liz. I think it’s the enthusiasm with which David (and Anthony) face a bowl of minestrone soup. They always loved to eat good food and most any kind of vegetable if I put it in soup.

  3. March 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Myra Berkowitz


    YUMMM and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. March 6, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thanks, Myra. Yes yummy. I expect you have your own favorite soups for a winter’s night. Rumor is we’re getting a melt soon. May it be so.

  4. March 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Sharyn Duncan


    I’ve been able to find Parmesan rinds at Whole Foods. I put several in the soup at the beginning & cut them up after they soften. Adds a nice zip & a chewy treat to find in your bowl.

    1. March 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      Sounds delicious, Sharyn. I expect Wegman’s has those, too. Nice to hear from you.

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