Minestrone is a thick vegetable/bean soup, usually with the addition of pasta. It has a long history dating back to pre-Roman days, and it used to be made primarily with leftovers by poor families looking to stretch their food resources. It’s considered a part of la cucina povera, or poor kitchen. It evolved over the years, as any good recipe does, reflecting the economies and eating habits of the people making it, so I thought it fitting that I add quinoa (instead of pasta) and kale to this classic soup.
Don’t let all the ingredients scare you. All you’re really doing is chopping the veggies into a medium dice (about the size of popped corn) and putting everything in a big pot. It’s fast, easy and ready to eat in about 40 minutes without much fuss from you, and it’s good for more than one meal. Make a really big pot and freeze what you don’t use in quart containers. They last for months and will be a lifesaver when you can’t or don’t want to cook.
In celebration of this time of harvest, when fresh local vegetables are available almost everywhere, go explore the farmer’s markets, stop at farm stands, or just grab your favorite fresh veggies wherever you can, and make a minestrone. Express yourself!
1 sweet onion – medium diced
2 celery stalks – medium diced
3 carrots – medium diced
2 tablespoons olive oil – or enough to cover the bottom of the pot
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
2 cups fresh zucchini – medium diced (about 1 medium or 2 small)
2 cups green beans – cut in 1 inch pieces
1 bell pepper – medium diced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 28-ounce cans of water
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
1 cup quinoa
2 cups kale – stems removed
1 teaspoon turmeric (or to taste)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish with parmesan to taste
Garnish with slivered basil or finely chopped rosemary
Place a large stockpot over medium heat and add the onions, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5 minutes or until softened.
Add the garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes and cook for about one minute or until garlic begins to color.
Add the zucchini and the green beans, season with salt and pepper, add the turmeric, stir and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the water, raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to medium/low and allow the soup to gently boil (uncovered) for about 20 minutes.
Add the quinoa and cover for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover, add the kale and the canned beans (more water if needed) bring back to a gentle boil and cook for another 5 minutes or just until the kale is tender.
Grate in the parmesan, add the basil and serve. (or do this for individual servings).
When the temperatures drop, I love making a big pot of this hearty chili. The dried chipotle adds a rich, bold flavor and just the right amount of spice.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Recipe: 3-Bean, Kale & Chipotle Chili
1 dried chipotle pepper (or ancho)
1 red, 1 yellow and 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bunch kale, stems & leaves finely chopped (separately)
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
28oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 can (15oz) each: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans
2 Tbs chili powder (read ingredients and avoid blends with added sugar, salt, MSG, and other unnecessary fillers)
Bring 3 cups water to a boil. Remove from heat and place dried chipotle pepper in hot water and allow to re-hydrate.
Place a large soup pot on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, chopped bell peppers, onion, garlic, kale stems and leaves, and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
Remove and discard seeds and stem from the rehydrated chipotle (option to reserve a few seeds as desired for added heat). Place chipotle in a blender with the boiling water and blend until smooth, adding seeds as desired (do so gradually and taste for heat before adding to chili — a few seeds can add a lot of heat!). Add pureed chipotle and water to sautéed veggies.
Add 28-ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons chili powder and 3 cans of rinsed and drained beans. Bring to a boil then lower heat to low-medium, stirring occasionally and adding water or broth as needed. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.
Season to taste with additional chili powder, salt and pepper. Enjoy! Note: Leftover chili freezes well.
Courtesy of MindBodyGreen.