Saturday, May 4, 2013

Recipe: Minestrone Soup

This is one of those recipes where every family seems to develop their own variation insisting that "it's the best" - and I'm no different - this is the best!!  I have been cooking it for years, tweeking the recipe to suit my taste and honing the ingredients until it is just about perfect, every time - there's also a triple bonus - it's cheap to make, goes a long way and IS VERY HEALTHY.


It's funny, but in Italy - where minestrone soup comes from, it is one of the few recipes I have come across that is not strictly regional and can be varied from region to region, village to village and family to family (think bolognese sauce (Bologna), or napolitana (Naples)).

Now that autumn is here I can finally think about more hearty, warming meals - and this includes soups, and minestrone is right at the top of the list as far as family favourites go - children, and adults alike love it.  My secret is to cut the ingredients into small, and evenly diced pieces, and leave out cabbage - it won't keep as it makes it smelly (that sulphury, cabbage smell!), and cook it in lots of olive oil.

Recipe 

1 large brown onion chopped finely
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
2 cups finely diced carrot
2 cups finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups finely diced waxy potato
1 400gm can copped tomato
1 700ml jar tomato passata
Handful of finely shredded kale (doesn't smell) or fresh, chopped green beans (optional)
2 bay leaves
Sprig of fresh thyme
Salt and Pepper
1 400gm can organic kidney beans (or cannellini beans), strained
1 cup small dried pasta
750 ml filtered water.
Handful of fresh, chopped parsley
Freshly grate parmesan cheese

Method

Saute onion in olive oil in large heavy based saucepan.
Add diced carrot, garlic, celery and potato. Give it a stir for a couple of minutes
Add all other ingredients except pasta and canned beans,
Cook for 20 mins.
Adjust seasoning and amount of water.
Add pasta and beans and cook for further 10 minutes
Add parsley when cooked.
Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan

NOTE: I help out a a 'Stepping On' class -  management strategies and exercises for older folk who have had a fall or are becoming frail and afraid of falling.  Last week we were having a chat about Vitamin D and calcium - things that we need to help make our bones stronger, and I was thinking that this is a very nutritious dish that is high in calcium (and you could probably tick off just about every other essential vitamin and mineral as well).

As we age we need more calcium than in our middle years - about 1,200mg per day for the over 75's (50 year olds need about 1,000).  So one good serve of this soup will provide you with about half your daily calcium needs.

So where's the calcium in minestrone soup?  We'll take the three highest.

Parmesan Cheese: 100gm has 137mg calcium (the highest for any cheese)

Parsley:  100gm has 138mg calcium (a handful of fresh herbs on your food is often higher in vitamin and mineral content than the whole of the rest of the meal!!)

Kale: 100gm has 135mg calcium (any other fresh greens are good too)

Source http://www.healthaliciousness.com

For another calcium rich dish go to the zucchini bake recipe.

NOTE: You can freeze any soup that is left over.

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