Minestrone soup isn’t just for summer. Here’s a real meal-in-a-pot using vegetables you’ll find abundant in fall and winter markets: carrots, onions, winter squash, kale, cauliflower. Organic canned tomatoes, a bit of pasta and some dried Mediterranean herbs give it that Italian touch. The full recipe:
This is a generous pot of soup, enough to feed six easily. It’s proportioned so you’ll use the full cans of tomatoes and beans, and avoid having little bits of this and that left over. But cut it in half if it seems too much.
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups winter squash, peeled, seeds scooped out, and diced
5-6 large mushrooms, button mushrooms are good, shiittakes even better
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon mixed dried Italian or Mediterranean herbs
2 cups cauliflower, cut in small florettes
6 cups vegetable stock (preferably) or water
1/2 cup macaroni-style pasta, or fettucine-type pasta broken into 1-inch pieces (optional)
1/2 of a small bunch of kale, leaves cut in half (stems removed ) and cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 cups diced organic canned tomatoes with their liquid (one 15 oz. can)
2 cups cooked beans of choice (or one 15 oz. can)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
seasonings: salt, pepper, umeboshi vinegar, a small squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste
Garnish: one or two tablespoons, chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1. Heat olive oil in a large, thick-bottomed soup pot. When oil is hot, add the carrots, onions, squash, garlic, mushrooms and herbs and a little pinch of salt. Sauté five or six minutes or until the onions and mushrooms soften and color. Add the cauliflower and sauté a minute or two more.
2. Add the stock and the pasta, bring up to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer everything about ten minutes or until the squash and carrots are tender. Add the kale and simmer 3-4 minutes more.
3. Add tomatoes and beans, the soy sauce, a teaspoon of umeboshi vinegar, a tiny pinch of salt and pepper and simmer five minutes more.
4. Taste, adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley, a little sprinkle of olive oil, and if you eat cheese, a sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan. Keeps a day or two, freezes reasonably well.