Italian Stuffed Pepper Soup
See, my parents are huge fans of stuffed peppers. And, whenever I go to visit, I try to cook up some food for them. My father has Parkinson's and my mom is his primary caretaker—I like to bring them tasty, nutritious, protein-heavy (important for boosting my father's strength), comfort meals that are easily reheated. When I saw a stuffed pepper soup on Aunt Bee's Recipes, I felt inspired to do my own take on the hearty, one-pot meal.
For many of the same reasons that this soup is great for my dad, it's also wonderful for new moms as they recover from childbirth. This budget-friendly dish is loaded with Vitamin C (crucial for healing) from the peppers, zucchini and tomato sauce. The meat and beans provide iron—important after the blood loss of childbirth—and protein, which is vital for rebuilding strength. Plus, this soup freezes and reheats well. Whether you're stocking your own freezer during your pregnancy, or bringing food to a friend that's recently given birth, this is a great dish to make.
Of course, you can cook up this pot of soup in just about 30 minutes. It's an easy weeknight meal for anyone, especially perfect now that the kiddos are headed back to school!
6 servings (about two quarts)
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced (I used red and yellow)
- 1 large zucchini
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 1/4 cups marinara sauce (homemade or your favorite jarred sauce!)
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth or water
- 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (if using canned, drain and rinse)
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan
- additional cheese for topping, optional
Over medium-high heat put the olive oil in a soup pot until hot. Add the beef and onions, as well as some salt and pepper. Once the beef is no longer pink (about five minutes), add the peppers, zucchini, garlic, and red wine.
Cook for a few minutes until the peppers and zucchini are getting tender. Then add the marinara, fennel seed, and broth or water and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and stir in the garbanzo beans. (I know that a lot of people add rice to their stuffed peppers, but I prefer using beans: they still provide energy in the form of carbs, but in a more nutrient-dense way.)
Simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Serve with additional grated cheese, or perhaps a slice of fresh mozzarella. I used a shredded Italian cheese blend of Fontina, Asiago, Parmesan and Provolone that I found at Trader Joe's and it was wonderful on this soup!
For another great dish to bring to a new mom, try this Spicy Meatball Orzo Soup!
What delicious dishes do you like to bring to new parents or to people recovering from an illness?