Green Minestrone Soup with Lime/Arugula Meatballs is a winter soup that appeals to both my need for color and my desire to eat clean. Plus, this soup is chock full of nutrients to chase away January flues and head colds. (Isn’t everyone around you sick lately? Ugh!)
K2.0 Green Minestrone Soup contains asparagus, broccoli, green beans, zucchini and leeks. It’s a plethora of nutrition, transformed into a cozy, filling soup. Feel free to make it your own, though, and add whatever green vegetables that make you happiest! Spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, beet greens, cabbage or green peas would also make great additions!
What are all these vegetables doing for us?
Asparagus is full of folate, a B vitamin that could lift your spirits and help ward off irritability. Our gray January days in upstate NY can definitely use a mood booster! Asparagus also contains vitamins A, C, E, K and B6, as well as iron, copper, calcium, protein and fiber.
Broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants. Among it’s many vitamins and minerals, Vitamin C is arguably the most essential nutrient for immune function — and broccoli is loaded with it.
Young, tender green beans are a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin K and silicon (needed for healthy bones, skin, and hair). They are also a rich source of Vitamin K, which is essential for proper clotting of the blood.
Botanically a fruit, but treated as a vegetable, zucchini contains folate, potassium and Vitamin A, which is key for healthy vision, a strong immune system, and optimum cell growth.
Leeks, like garlic and onions, belong to a vegetable family called the Allium vegetables. Since leeks are related to garlic and onions, they contain many of the same beneficial compounds found in these well-researched, health-promoting vegetables. Leeks are loaded with Vitamin K, manganese, which aids in bone production and skin integrity. They are milder than their onion cousins, so they don’t overpower the other vegetables.
Arugula is a peppery, tart and bitter leaf that is on regular rotation here in the K2.0 kitchen. We sprinkle it liberally on our homemade pizzas, (maybe “sprinkle” is the wrong word here … more like “dump!“), we enjoy it in salads and sandwiches, and we love it blended into pesto, in place of fresh basil. It’s chock full of calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, K and A.
How do we begin?
We began by measuring out 2 ounces of fresh, baby arugula. (The equivalent of two large hand fulls.) Then we chopped it up very fine. If you don’t have a scale, just keep chopping and adding it to a 1 cup measure. It came to nearly 1 cup after chopping.
Combine 1 pound of very lean, raw ground beef to the arugula,and add 2 large, crushed cloves of garlic, and the zest of one large lime. Mix well with your hands until thoroughly combined. Then form into approximately fifty 1-inch meatballs.
The original recipe says to place the raw meatballs into the soup broth to cook, but we didn’t want extra fat in the soup, so we cooked them on a baking sheet in a 375º oven on the convection setting, to crisp them up. They are so small, they baked up in 15 minutes.
For a vegetarian option, we considered adding cooked farro to the soup. Cannellini beans or lentils would also make a wonderful substitution. But let me tell you, the meatballs were fantastic! The peppery arugula and bright citrus was unexpected and fantastic! (Plus, they would make amazing appetizers with a lime/yogurt dip!)
We drizzled a small amount of olive oil into a dutch oven. I don’t even measure anymore, but it was approximately 1 Tablespoon.
In went the halved pieces of garlic, and then the broccoli. Notice we used both the stems and the florets. We sautéed them for about a minute on medium-high.
Next, the green beans. We added each vegetable in order of it’s density, in order to have all the vegetables cook evenly. Another minute of stirring and sautéing.
Next came the asparagus, sliced on the diagonal, to make it slightly different looking than the green beans, and a minute later, the zucchini.
We added the thinly sliced leeks at the same time as the homemade vegetable stock that we always keep in the freezer. Another unexpected touch: added the juice of 3 limes. Then we brought it to a boil, turned it down to a simmer, and covered the pot for about 20 minutes.
The end result was remarkable! We added 5-6 little meatballs to each serving, and sprinkled cut scallions on top. A garnish of 1 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top lent the soup just enough sodium to make it interesting, and the lime juice in the broth made it bright and vibrant.
Green Minestrone Soup: Add a little crusty, whole grain bread, a glass of wine … and … DINNER! Plus we have eight 16-ounce Mason jars in the freezer for great lunches in the future! The soup comes in at about 150 calories per 2-cup serving, but the fiber will keep you full for hours! Need more bulk? Add beans or farro or barley or whole grain pasta. Want it creamy? Make a little paste of corn starch and water, (or white flour, melted butter and milk,) and whisk it in slowly. There are no hard and fast rules for soup. Do what makes you happy!
Green Vegetable Minestrone with Lime/Arugula Meatballs
- large soup pot
- 16 ounces lean ground beef
- 3 large garlic cloves
- 2 ounces arugula leaves
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 3 medium lime zest
- 2 tsp coarsely ground pepper
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup broccoli florets and stems
- 1 cup zucchini
- 1 cup green beans
- 1 cup asparagus
- 2 medium scallions
- 8 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 12 cups no-sodium vegetable broth
- Combine beef, lime zest, 2 crushed garlic cloves, and chopped arugula in a large bowl. Mix well with both hands until well combined. Roll into approximately 50 one-inch meatballs.
- Chop all vegetables into bite sized pieces.
- Pour olive oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add remaining garlic clove and sauté, stirring well, for 1 minute. Add broccoli and stir for another minute. Add beans, stir for 1 minute. Add asparagus and zucchini, and stir for one minute.
- Add leeks, vegetable broth and lime juice, and turn heat to high.
- Place meatballs on a sheet pan in the oven at 375º for 15 minutes if using a convection oven, or 20 minutes if using conventional oven.
- When the soup reaches a boil, turn down to a simmer, place lid on, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Meatballs and soup will be ready at approximately the same time. Place two cups of soup in a wide bowl and add 5-6 meatballs. Garnish with sliced scallions and grated Parmesan cheese.