July 23rd, 2018

The Kosher Gourmet

Thick and hearty Italian-Greek soup is a quick fusion meal in a bowl

Linda Gassenheimer

By Linda Gassenheimer Miami Herald/(MCT)

Published Oct. 20, 2014

 Thick and hearty Italian-Greek soup is a quick fusion meal in a bowl
No matter what the weather, my family loves a bowl of soup, but most recipes take too long to make for a mid-week meal. Greek-style minestrone fits the bill.

This thick and hearty soup made with vegetables, beans and Arborio rice takes only 20 minutes to make. It's a whole meal in one bowl and a great way to brighten up a fall evening.

Navy Beans, garlic, onion and tomatoes are the basis for Fassoulada, a Greek bean soup. With the addition of feta cheese and Italian risotto rice, it becomes an Italian-Greek fusion meal. Used to make creamy risotto, Arborio has shorter, plumper grains than other short-grained rice.

You can make this a vegetarian meal by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Serve it with a salad and crusty bread.

This meal contains 561 calories per serving with 13 percent of calories from fat.


Use a medium or short-grained rice if Arborio rice is unavailable.

Domestic crumbled feta cheese is available in most markets and works well for this recipe.

Sliced celery can be found in the produce section or on salad bars of many supermarkets and save prep time.

Minced garlic can be found in the produce section of the market. Two crushed garlic cloves can be used instead.


Prepare ingredients.

Make soup.

While soup cooks, open a washed, ready to eat salad and warm some bread. Wine suggestion: I'd serve an inexpensive Chianti or another light-bodied wine.


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • 1 cup frozen chopped or diced onion

  • 1 pound sliced zucchini (about 2 cups)

  • 1 stalk celery, sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • 2 cups fat-free, low sodium vegan chicken soup

  • 1 cup drained, canned, no-salt-added, whole tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice

  • 2 cups no-salt-added, rinsed and drained navy beans or Great Northern beans

  • 4 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, zucchini, celery and garlic. Saute 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, tomatoes and rice. Break up the tomatoes with the edge of a cooking spoon. Bring soup to a simmer. cover and cook 15 minutes. Add a little water if the soup becomes dry. Add the beans, spinach and thyme. Cook until the beans are warm and the spinach wilted, about 1 minute. Add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle feta cheese. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 566 calories (13 percent from fat), 8.3 g fat (3.6 g saturated, 2.8 g monounsaturated), 17 mg cholesterol, 34.5 g protein, 94.5 g carbohydrates, 19.7 g fiber, 486 mg sodium.


Here are the ingredients you'll need for tonight's Dinner in Minutes.

To buy: 1 package frozen chopped or diced onion, 1 small zucchini, 1 small bunch celery, 1 package washed, ready-to-eat spinach, 1 small can no-salt-added whole tomatoes, 1 can navy beans or Great Northern Beans, 1 small package Arborio rice and 1 small package crumbled feta cheese.

Staples: Olive oil; minced garlic; dried thyme; fat-free, low-salt chicken broth; salt and black peppercorns.

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Linda Gassenheimer is the author, most recently, of "Fast and Flavorful: Great Diabetes Meals from Market to Table."