Saturday, 21 July 2012

Garden Minestrone Soup- vegan

Garden Minestrone Soup is heavy on veggies, low on pasta and oil

This soup is a tasty way to use your homegrown produce in a quick and healthy meal

Continuing (unintentionally) with the Italian theme, I thought I'd share with you this simple but nutritious soup recipe. We have been making minestrone a lot lately; it seems to be a quick and healthy way to get some vegetables into the kids before they head out after lunch on a Saturday. It was my husband who started making this, and it caught on fast in our house! We always put beans in for protein, so nutritionally it's a standalone dish, and vegan, but they often have it with cheese on toast for some extra energy. (I sometimes have it with crackers or rye bread and homemade seed or nut butter. It's also great with vegan Parmesan sprinkled on top.) We usually put everything into the pressure cooker and it only takes 5 minutes or so to cook, but today I used a regular pan just to see if it was just as simple; it took slightly longer, but it is still a really easy recipe. This was also the first time I'd done it with our homegrown organic veggies, so I kept it low on pasta and left out the hing and miso that I usually put in,  just to showcase the delicate flavours of the veg and fresh basil. The quantities given here yielded 4 or 5 servings. 

2 medium potatoes (250) diced small
200g (shelled weight) fresh broad beans
1 yellow bell pepper, finely sliced
1 stick celery, finely sliced
100g mangetout, trimmed
a large handful of eggless noodles/ wholemeal pasta, broken into small pieces
a 500g carton of passata (or the equivalent in fresh blended tomatoes- I'll definitely do this when ours are ripe...so much more delicious!)
1 tab olive oil
a small handful of fresh basil, torn into small pieces to release the aromatic oil, plus sprigs for the garnish
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
coarse-ground black pepper to taste
  • First wash and prepare the vegetables. Be sure to chop them small so that they are distributed evenly throughout the soup and they cook quickly. 
  • Sweat them with the oil in a lidded saucepan over a gentle heat until cooked soft but not mushy- don't rush this part; it's important for bringing the flavours out.
  • When the veggies are cooked, add the passata, the noodles/ pasta and 1 l of water.
  • Bring to a simmer and season with basil, salt and pepper.
  • When the noodles are soft, it's done. Do not overheat or the flavours will start to disappear.
  • Serve garnished with a small sprig of basil.

By the way, minestrone means "big soup" in Italian, and versions of this (without tomato and potato) date back to Roman times. Originally, before bread was introduced to Rome by the ancient Greeks, it would have contained spelt flour and must have been a lot like upma (a tasty Indian dish of cracked grains and vegetables) and less like soup. It was originally vegetarian, being a dish made by poorer people- fava beans (a type of broad bean) and chickpeas were common ingredients.

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