Recipe and photo from Simply Laura Lea: Balanced Recipes for Everyday Eating, available in April 2020

Good nutritious food doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, the healthiest meals are often the most basic, consisting of whole foods from the earth. Just ask certified holistic chef Laura Lea, creator of LLBalanced.com, whose upcoming second cookbook is based entirely on the premise that when it comes to delicious, nutritious recipes, simple is always better. Here, she gives us a sneak peek at one of her new recipes, a hearty, protein-powered soup. It's perfect for a cool night warm-up or post-workout fuel. 



Cozy Chunky Minestrone Soup

Prep time: 30 minutes  •  Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes  •  Makes 8-10 servings


  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt (start with 1 & add to taste; I use 2)
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup shallots, diced into ¼” pieces (approximately 2 medium or 3 small shallots)
  • 1 ½ cups carrots, peeled and sliced into ½” rounds or half-moons for thicker ends (approximately 2 medium-large carrots)
  • 2 cups frozen green beans, diced into approximately 1 ½” pieces if you did not purchase them pre-cut
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and sliced into ¼” ribbons
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil from the sundried tomatoes (substitute: avocado oil)
  • 8 cups/64 oz low-sodium free range chicken stock (sub veg stock for vegan)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish (sub 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast for vegan)
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 12 oz pre-cooked Italian chicken sausage links sliced into ½” rounds (sub another can chickpeas for vegan)
  • 1 15-oz can no-salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 8 oz dried pasta of choice

1. Combine basil, onion powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Add olive oil to a large soup pot and bring to medium heat. Add shallots and carrots and cook, stirring, until shallots are softened and translucent, approximately 5-7 minutes. Add splashes of water as necessary to prevent burning/sticking. Add green beans and spices and cook, stirring, another 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, another 30 seconds.

3. Add stock, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, parmesan and molasses and stir to incorporate. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer 15 minutes.

4. Stir in the chickpeas, sausage and pasta and simmer, covered, until the pasta and vegetables are butter-knife tender, approximately 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately. I like to serve with extra grated parmesan and a drizzle of any leftover olive oil from the sundried tomato jar.

5. Leftovers will keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator up to 5 days or frozen up to 2 months.