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Soup Weather Is Here

September 27, 2016

After a long, steamy summer, the past couple of autumn-like days have forced me to shut the windows, close out the chill from the house, and make a pot of one of my favorite soups for this time of year—minestrone.

Why minestrone? It’s quick, healthy, versatile, and you can use the best of the end-of-summer harvest veggies available at our fine farmers’ markets. It’s also economical, and leftovers freeze well. As a vegetarian, I make mine with homemade vegetable stock that’s far lower in sodium than most store-bought stock or broth. Some readers might remember one of my previous blogs about how to make your own stock (https://naturalmilwaukee.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/soups-on-with-low-salt-d-i-y-veggie-stock/). Meat lovers can use chicken or beef stock or bone broth, and also add cooked diced chicken or mini-meatballs, which will make it an Italian wedding-style soup.

As for the health factor, the assortment of beans in minestrone makes this soup high in fiber and protein, and the immune boosting alliums like garlic and onion help prepare the body for the upcoming cold and flu season. The tomatoes and kale, spinach, or Swiss chard ups the intake of antioxidants and is a tasty way to use the last of our fresh veggies of the season.

Here’s my recipe for a vegan version of minestrone. Have fun, experiment with the seasonings and ingredients to your taste, and Happy Autumn!

Vegan Minestrone Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock

4 whole bay leaves

¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil

2 tsp oregano

½ tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 15 oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz. can three bean mix (kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

2 tomatoes, diced with seeds and pulp removed

2 cups chopped spinach, kale, or Swiss chard

Warm olive oil in a stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté diced onion in the olive oil for about 2 minutes; add garlic and sauté for another minute. Pour in vegetable stock and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add bay leaves, basil, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for about 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Add beans and tomatoes and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove bay leaves. Stir in spinach, kale or Swiss chard and simmer until greens are slightly wilted. Serve with warm crusty bread or gluten-free sesame crackers or whole grain crisps.

Sheila Julson is a  freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine.

 

 

 

 

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