The weather is finally starting to feel like Spring – isn’t it glorious! The birds are chirping, the cicadas are singing (yes, I actually heard some today!) and the sun is beating down. It is reminding me that in a few months it will be Summer…and at this rate it’ll be a scorcher!
With summer in Brisbane comes lighter clothes, swimming, the beach, and all those other lovely things that those of us who are body-conscious adore. Now, I am one who steadfastly believes that being healthy doesn’t naturally mean being thin, but if you are feeling like you ate one too many pieces of pizza or hot chips over the weekend (or both – woops!) and you just want an easy, nutritious, veggie-filled bowl of goodness to get you back on track, then this is the recipe for you.
This is my own take on minestrone soup, and I love it for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is so packed with veggie goodness that a bowl easily gives you a giant super charged dose of nutrients and vitamins. I made it a few weeks ago when I wasn’t feeling 100% and it was just the thing to cheer me up. The second reason that I love this soup is that it is great for using up any veggies in your fridge that may need to be eaten asap (and I mean any!). The best thing about this soup is that it is so versatile; it can be made with pasta for a hearty, winter feast; with barley for a boost of fibre; or with mixed beans for a lighter meal option – if you think of some other suggestions let me know! I made it last night to balance out some unhealthy choices earlier on and I chose to throw in some beans at the end to suit my mood and the warmer weather.
Preparation/Cooking Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 4 – 6
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 brown onion
2 teaspoons of crushed garlic (or 2 chopped garlic cloves)
An assortment of vegetables (fridge leftovers or some lovely fresh stuff!). In this instance I used summer squash, zucchini, carrot, asparagus, red capsicum, tomatoes, spring onions and a cheeky mushroom that I found all on its lonesome! The quantity completely depends on how hearty you want your soup to be. Just stop adding when you think it’s enough!
4 cups of vegetable stock
About a quarter cup of chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I have used thyme, parsley and oregano)
Either mixed beans, pasta, barley, or any other grain or pulse – just to flesh it out a bit!
1. To start, dice your brown onion and combine it with the garlic and olive oil in a big saucepan. Cook over the lowest heat setting for approximately 5-10 minutes, or until soft.
2. While the onions are cooking, chop all your vegetables, except for the spring onion, roughly into small pieces. Make sure to keep an eye on your brown onion and stir it occasionally so it cooks evenly. If it has softened and starts to burn before you have finished, turn off the stove and turn on again when you have finished chopping.
3. Once you have all your vegetables prepared, combine them in the saucepan with the onion, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Make sure you delight in the smorgasbord of colourful yummy natural food that you have in front of you!
4. Dice your herbs and spring onion and stir into the vegetable mix, before adding your stock. Bring to the boil. Put a lid on your saucepan and simmer gently for approximately half an hour, or until vegetables have softened. If you are using pasta or barley instead of beans, add these now.
5. Finally, drain and rinse your mixed beans and stir through your soup. Add more salt or pepper if you like to suit your tastes. Simmer for about 10 more minutes, or until beans are heated through.
Voila! Let cool slightly before slurping down your deliciously healthy Not-Quite-Winter Soup. Enjoy with some crusty wholemeal sourdough if you want a little somethin’ somethin’ extra! The beautiful thing about this soup is that it’s slightly different every time you make it, and you can add extra herbs and spices to give it a different kick whenever you want. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers (not easy in a full house!) then this soup reheats perfectly for next-day lunches, or freezes well for those nights when you just can’t be bothered!
I hope you enjoy!