Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe: comfort minestrone

Here's a delicious and hearty minestrone for the cold days.
This thick soup has veggies, a combo of beans + grains for protein and energy, and herbs for taste. It's vegan, it's comforting, it's simply delicious.
Beware: when I made it, it took a very, *very* long time to cook: the beans wouldn't soften (they had been in my pantry for a while, plus some beans cook very slowly in an acidic substance like tomato). But it did cook in time for dinner, and it was worth the wait. (At some point I transferred it into a crock pot so it would cook without my supervision.)

Make this soup in advance: in the morning for dinner. This kind of soup/stew is better the day after anyway. And don't forget to soak the beans overnight beforehand!
This yields maybe 6 servings (yum, leftovers!)

beans (cannelloni, mixed beans, whatever you have in your pantry...) 2 cups -*soaked overnight*
vegetable oil for cooking (canola)
onion 1 big, chopped
(wheat-free)tamari -(proportions depend, 1/3 cup max)
garlic garlic 3 big cloves, minced
celery 4 stalks, chopped
carrots 4 chopped
herbs de Provence 1 tbsp
+ your blend of herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram -to taste
fresh parsley: 1/4 cup + more for garnish
crushed tomatoes 1 28oz can
hot water 1/2 cup
no-salt-added bouillon 3 cubes
water 6 cups
bay leaves 4
small-sized pasta 1 cup  (here: quinoa elbows)
salt and pepper to taste
Prep: Soak beans overnight.

In a large cooking pot, pour cooking oil so that the bottom is covered -heat up at medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add chopped onion. Cook until translucent, stirring regularly. When the onions start sticking at the bottom, add splashes of Tamari. (I like the onions well cooked, almost caramelized, because it gives more savor to the dish. So I stir for a while, adding tamari when needed, while I do other things like peeling garlic, chopping veggies...)
Add garlic and stir for 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook until soft, adding tamari (or, if you feel it's becoming too salty tbs of water) if it sticks. Add all herbs and keep stirring.
When all is soft (and the sugars of the vegetables are well released!) add beans (they should have expanded in the overnight soaking), crushed tomatoes, stir. Dissolve the 3 bouillon cubes in 1/2 cup of hot water and add to the pot, as well as bay leaves and 6 cups of water.
Set the heat to high until, and before it actually boils, set to medium-low heat.
Simmer for 1 to several hours (depending on the beans, cooking can take more or less time -and believe me: you *do not want* to ingest undercooked beans!) At some point, you may transfer the soup to a crockpot.

Before meal: cook the pasta. Drain. If, like me, you made a bigger batch (so you'd have some for later) coat them with olive oil so they won't stick together.

When you are ready to eat: remove bay leaves. Ladle soup into bowls, add pasta (2/3 soup and 1/3 pasta... your choice, really), mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley.

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