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warm up and slow down: Minestrone soup


As I type this, it is 25 degrees in Massachusetts, with a “real feel” of only 12 degrees. It is November 13th, but we are experiencing weather that is more typical in January or February. In fact, the United States is set to break some 170 records today due to either unseasonably cold temps, snow or ice (if you’re really lucky, a combination of all three).

Of course, this weather makes me think of my favorite soup recipe: one that not only warms and satisfies me and my family, it re-calibrates and settles me. When I am feeling overwhelmed, stressed or upset, I turn to this recipe time and again. I slow down, I focus on the flavors, the ingredients and the aromas rather than a to-do list or checking my email. I don’t feel rushed or hurried when there is a pot of soup simmering on the stove.

I suspect it’s because one cannot rush a good, home-made soup. It must simmer for a while in order for the flavors to develop and the ingredients to cook properly, you just can’t cut corners. This recipes take some time, but it is in that time that the magic takes place. I feel my shoulders relax, my movements become slower, my smile lingers longer, our house smells amazing and our kitchen is warm and inviting. My wish is that if you make this recipes, you will feel the same way. There is something so pure, so beautiful and so simple about sharing a bowl of warm soup with those that you love. Maybe that’s why I love this recipes so much: not just the process of making it, but the process of sharing it with my family.

MINESTRONE SOUP

(makes about 6 bowls or 8 cups)

  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, chopped

  • 2 medium ribs celery, chopped

  • 2 TBSP tomato paste

  • 1 large can San Marzano tomatoes, with their liquid (28 ounce can)

  • 2 cups (total) chopped seasonal vegetables that are in season: potatoes, peas, zucchini, butternut squash)

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme

  • 4 cups (32 ounces) low sodium vegetable broth

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

  • 2 bay leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 TBSP nutritional yeast

  • 1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans or kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cups chopped kale, chopped dandelion or chopped collard greens

  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • Flat leaf Italian parsley, torn

  • Cooked quinoa (according to package directions)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, tomato paste and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables have softened and the onions are turning translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. If the veggies start to stick to the pan, add a bit of vegetable broth to release them.

  2. Pour in the San Marzano tomatoes and their juices. They come whole, so you will need to break them up. I use a potato masher or a fork to break them into bite-sized pieces.

  3. Add the seasonal vegetables, garlic powder, dried oregano and thyme. Cook for about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the vegetable broth and water, the salt, bay leaves and nutritional yeast. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Stir to incorporate everything.

  5. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot with the lid, leaving about a 1” gap for steam to escape. You may need to reduce the heat to keep a gentle simmer.

  6. Cook for 45-60 minutes, then remove the lid and add the beans and the greens.

  7. Turn off the heat, and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and taste: you may need more salt, more nutritional yeast, I tend to add more of both.

  8. Ladle in a bowl and add about a 1/4 cup of the cooked quinoa, top with torn parsley and serve with really good bread for dipping!

With love,

Jane


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