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Zucchini and mint soup and grilled veggies in mint vinaigrette recipe

Soup and grilled vegetables are easy ways to eat more healthfully. Enjoy these recipes and tips from Dr. Rani Polak.

Roni Polak, MD, is Founding Director of the Culinary Health Education Fundamentals (CHEF) Coaching Program at the Institute of Lifestyle Medicine at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, am. He is also a Research Associate, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School. Follow Dr. Polak on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn.

There are endless possibilities for healthy homemade soup. To keep it easy and convenient:

  • Always make more soup than you need, and freeze the leftovers in meal-sized portions. Then, on days when you are busy or the cupboard is bare, you can heat it up, serve with whole-grain bread or a salad, and enjoy a great meal.
  • You do not need to defrost frozen soups prior to reheating, just run the frozen container under hot tap water to loosen it from the edges, then dump the contents into a pot and heat it right up.
  • If you don’t have an ingredient, it’s okay to leave things out, or substitute with what you do have. By improvising you can discover new combinations you enjoy, and each success helps you build confidence.

Here is a delicious example:

Zucchini and mint soup

Serves 8 / Serving size: 1 cup


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 cups water
  • 1.5 pounds zucchini, sliced
  • 1.5 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, squeezed to juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Atlantic sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes, until brown. Add the zucchini slices, salt, and pepper and sauté for 3 minutes until very light brown. Add water and increase heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Mix in mint and lemon juice, then transfer to a food processor, or use an immersion blender, and puree until smooth. Return soup to pot, and heat gently. Add salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with mint leaves before serving.

Indoor grilling

Pamper your kitchen with a grill pan, which is a basically a “frying” pan with elevated ridges that duplicate the effect you get on your outdoor grill. This is an amazing tool that can help you prepare quick and impressive food. Grilled veggies are super-healthy and tasty! To keep it easy and convenient:

  • Let your grill pan heat up for a while before you set food on it, just as you do with your outdoor grill. The hotter it is, the better “grill” taste and marks you will get.
  • To prevent sticking, lightly brush or spray food with a vegetable oil that can get hot without smoking, like canola.

Try this grilled vegetable appetizer or side dish. I used yellow and red beets, zucchini, and summer squash, but the list of possibilities is nearly endless (eggplant, peppers, Brussels sprouts…).

Grilled veggies in mint vinaigrette (I used beets!)

Serves 10 / Serving size: 1/2 cup


  • 3 firm medium beets, sliced into thin rounds
  • Pinch Atlantic sea salt
  • Pinch ground black pepper


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare beets (or vegetables of your choice): Season beet rounds with salt and pepper.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, roast beet rounds for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side, until dark lines appear. Transfer to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, garlic, and mint. Pour over beet rounds, and mix to coat. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving, to allow flavors to blend.

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