Monday, March 28, 2011

Minstrone with Kale

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite."   Auguste Escoffier

Minestrone with Kale, Vegan Parmesan on top

From Color Me Vegan, by Colleen Patrick Goudreau:

"The Italian word minestrone, refers to a large, hearty soup. The soup itself is part of what is known in Italy as cucina povera - literally 'poor kitchen,' referring to the necessity of creating dishes based on what was available and in season. As it has been passed down through the ages, there is no fixed recipe and lends itself to many variations".

There are many things I love about this recipe:  First of all, it is simple, hearty, and tastes wonderful.  And second, it contains one of my all-time favorite leafy greens: KALE! 

Here are four fun (little known) nutritional facts about kale:
  1. Kale eases lung congestion and is beneficial to the stomach, liver and immune system
  2. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the eyes from macular degeneration
  3. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which may protect against colon cancer
  4. Kale is an excellent source of calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and chlorophyll

Another component to this recipe that I really like, is the step of boiling the small pasta separate from the soup itself. That way the pasta doesn't get overcooked, or soak up all the broth by the time it's finished cooking. The addition of bay leaves REALLY adds a wonderful depth of flavor; a flavor that my 'chicken soup loving, dark leafy green hating' family gobbled up eagerly.  There was barely one bowl's worth left, which always makes me happy ^_^

If you do not already have this gorgeous book, there are some sample recipes listed here, and the Minestrone with Kale is one of them!

I did make two small changes from Colleen's original recipe: First, I added 3 stalks of chopped celery along with the carrots, because you can't have soup without celery! It just gives it that special home made soup "taste".  And second, I used chickpeas instead of cannellini beans.  The first time I made this delicious soup, I didn't have white beans on hand, so of course, I subbed my old-standby: CHICKPEAS.   Well, I enjoyed them so much that I now use them every time I make the soup.  As they simmer in the both, they get so wonderfully soft and tender and compliment the hearty kale very well.  This soup is nice sprinkles with a bit of Vegan Parmesan.

"Soup of the evening, beautiful..." Lewis Carroll

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