Smoky minestrone soup

RECIPE: Smoky minestrone soup

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There is no better way to get in your ‘five a day’ than with a big bowl of hearty minestrone soup.

This version is a bit different to the traditional version as we know it. It’s been spiked with paprika, rounded out with a touch of cumin and made with gluten-free pasta but it stills does exactly what a minestrone soup should do and that’s nourish you from the inside, out. 

Let’s run through the nutrition of this soup. Instead of using a regular base of celery, fennel is used in this soup to give it a deliciously rich and slightly sweet flavour. Fennel is more flavoursome than celery and is a wonderful vegetable for your digestive tract with it having soothing and calming properties. 

The beans add a protein source to this soup which it otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have. Beans also slow down the absorption of glucose into your blood stream thanks to their fibre content which helps your energy stay stable and on track after you’ve eaten. 

Kale is one of the healthiest greens out there and is nature’s multivitamin, containing nutrients such as A, C and K as well as potassium, iron and calcium. It is also a plant food that aids your body in detoxification and supporting the liver. 

Lastly, the basil on top is also a source of vitamins A and C but also is high in essential oils. Basil’s essential oil is thought to be uplifting and it’s best to eat it in it’s fresh, uncooked state to maintain its aromatic properties. 

The best thing about this soup is that you can sub in and out any vegetables according to the season. It can be made with sweet potato as opposed to carrot if you prefer your soup a little sweeter, you can add in some green beans, change the kale to another super green such as silver beet or chard and even mix up the beans to whatever is in your pantry. 

It’s a forgiving soup and the base flavours of onion, garlic and fennel as well as the herbs and smoky spices will make sure any changes you make to the soup will still leave you with a delicious, warm bowl of nourishing minestrone.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
  • ½ tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced into rounds then quartered
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into rounds then quartered
  • 2 cans diced Italian tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • A generous splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 whole bay leaf
  • 1 can butter beans
  • 1 cup gluten-free pasta such as quinoa pasta, uncooked
  • 2 heaped cups Tuscan kale leaves, stalks cut off and cut into 2 cm long strips
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil leaves, to garnish

How to make

  • In a large lidded pot on the stove, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and fennel to cook for 5-7 minutes until soft and slightly golden. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic, herbs and spices and cook for another 3 minutes until everything smells fragrant. If anything is going too brown or something is burning, turn the heat down
  • Now, add the chopped carrot and zucchini to the pot stirring them into the onion and garlic and then add the canned tomatoes including all their juices, vegetable stock, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. Bring the pot to the boil, place the lid onto the pot and turn the stove down to low so the soup can simmer. Leave to cook for at this heat for 10 minutes
  • At the 10 minute mark, taste your soup and season with salt and pepper. If you would like to add more vinegar or lemon juice, do so. Then, add the uncooked pasta and kale and bring the pot back up to the boil. The amount of time you need to cook the soup for now will depend on the cooking time of your pasta which is usually around 8-10 minutes for gluten-free pasta (remember it will continue to cook while the soup is still hot so you can probably turn it off a bit sooner)
  • Once the pasta is done, turn the heat off and let the soup sit for 3-4 minutes to cool slightly and then serve it up into soup bowls, topping each one with basil leaves, salt and pepper. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months

Roberta's tips

  • If you are freezing the soup, you can leave the pasta out and add cooked pasta to the soup when you decide to eat it. That way you can avoid having over-cooked pasta in your soup if you do not want it
  • You can top this soup with extras such as feta or parmesan cheese as well as croutons. You can also use regular wheat pasta as opposed to gluten-free. However, please note that this will change the soup from being gluten-free or dairy-free

Roberta of Naturo Medico is a Naturopathic Practitioner who specialises in preventative care and women’s health. From her Melbourne-based clinic, Roberta sees women of all ages wanting to meet their own health goals and assists them on their path with personalised treatments specific to their needs.

Alongside practice, Roberta shares healthful and nutrient-rich recipes with her readers who inspire her to continue educating on what health and wellbeing means and how it can be achieved.

Follow @naturomedico on Instagram for more healthy eating inspiration!