Val and I are finally on the mend from the flu and decided it was time to make something more nourishing for ourselves than simple broth and plain toast. Although we are not done with winter, the earth is starting to thaw and smell more like spring. To that end I wanted to see color if only in a pot of soup, the scent wafting around the kitchen like a waltz. I love chopping vegetables for soup, soft music in the background, knowing that I’m cooking with intention. It’s our version on slow food.
We settled on Harvest Minestrone. Minestrone means ‘big soup’ in Italian or a soup of many vegetables. We call ours ‘harvest’ minestrone for its abundance of root vegetables. In order for the vegetables to end up being done at the same time and not overcooked, they are added in stages. We start with a base of aromatic vegetables like onion and garlic, adding carrots and sweet potatoes next. I had soaked dried cannellini beans the night before. These will be cooked separately in a pressure cooker and added near the end with a green of some kind (Swiss chard in this case). Minestrone is a very versatile and forgiving soup. Many different vegetables can be used, as well as pasta for additional interest. If using pasta, this too should be added near the end so it will not become mushy and bloated.
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp good quality olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced in 1/2 inch circles
- 1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, cubed
- 32oz carton organic chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 15oz can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed. Alternatively cooked dried bean of your choice, measuring 2 cups cooked
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 4 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard or kale, without stems
- Freshly grated Pecorino cheese
- In large Dutch oven saute onion and garlic in olive oil on med-high until soft. Add sweet potatoes and carrots, saute 3-5 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with juice and Italian seasoning. Cook on medium-low for 30 minutes or until vegetable or soft.
- Add cannellini beans and Swiss chard, simmer until chard wilts, about 3-5 minutes.
- Ladle into bowls and drizzle additional olive oil. Pass Pecorino.
Be sure to serve with some nice crusty bread that you can dunk into the soup. While the wind howls outside, you can sit around your table with your loved ones and pause with gratitude for feeling full. It’s simple pleasures that we turn to again and again to remind ourselves that in this life there is plenty.
“Each experience leaves an imprint. It’s transformation into something useful is a choice.”