Collards in minestrone soup*

Like everyone else on the planet, I’d like to lose a few pounds in this, the new year.  To that end, I’m trying to make meals that are a little less calorie-dense.  That means vegetables.  Lots of them.  Minestrone soup can use up just about anything you’ve got in the fridge.

Minestrone Soup

3 strips bacon
1 onion, chopped
½ small head green cabbage, chopped (about 3-4 cups)
2 cups frozen collard greens, thawed
2 cups frozen greenbeans, thawed, cut in bite-size pieces
3 carrots, sliced
Any other relevant vegetable (see NOTE, below)
1 ½ cup cooked white beans (canned are fine)
½ Star Oregano bouillon cube, or other bouillon cube (optional)
4-6 cups water
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese

In a pot big enough to hold everything, fry the bacon over low heat until most of the fat has rendered off and the strips are crisp. Remove the bacon to paper towels and blot dry. Pour off most of the fat in the pan, leaving enough to sauté the onion and cabbage.

Turn the heat to medium and add the onion and cabbage to the pan. When they have begun to wilt, about 5-8 minutes, add the collards, green beans, and carrots. Continue to cook until the vegetables begin to brown. This usually takes 10-20 minutes.

Add everything but the seasonings and cheese, bring the mixture to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cover. Cook until it’s the way you like it. I like mine cooked pretty thoroughly, but a lot of people prefer some crunch.

Taste, and correct the seasonings. The vinegar and Worcestershire are optional; I think they round out the flavor. Serve with the grated cheese.

NOTE: You can use absolutely any vegetable in minestrone soup. Just make sure they all finish cooking at about the same time. This is a great way to get rid of odds and ends in the freezer or crisper.