Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Vegan Week: Winter Minestrone

Husband and I are embarking on another vegan (almost) week prior to Christmas. I say (almost) week due to the fact that we started Monday and will not be eating vegan on Christmas day. We do this periodically to help cope with excess indulgences and as a fun challenge. We do have 2 exceptions to abiding by vegan week: 1) food that would spoil in our fridge if not eaten during the period; 2) We're allowed to sample small amounts of veggie (but non-vegan) food during work celebrations this week. If you're really curious about the origins of vegan week (and I know you are--wink! wink!) check it out here.
             Steam makes it tricky for me to take a clear pic--but don't you feel warm?

For my first day of vegan week, I ate:
  • English muffin with spinach-artichoke dip*
  • Winter Minestrone Soup
  • Clementine
  • Lime tortilla chips
  • Dark chocolate
  • Pan fried tempeh with artichoke dip
  • coconut cookie**
  • ginger cookie**
  • Water, seltzer, coffee, wine spritzer to drink 
*recipe coming soon
**Exempt item

For vegan week to be a success, I rely a lot on the recipes of others. This lovely winter minestrone comes from Joanne at Eats Well With Others. Her recipes always look scrumptious and amazing! I followed it very closely, though I changed the ratio of some veggies to suit my tastes, and changed the order of ingredient additions based on how I have made soups before.

    Winter Minestrone (serves 6-8)
    • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 3 medium/large carrots, coarsely chopped
    • 1 large red onion, diced
    • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 large bunch chard, leaves roughly torn, stems coarsely chopped, leaves & stems kept separate
    • 1/2 C parsley, finely chopped
    • 1 28-oz can tomatoes, either diced or whole and chopped, with juice
    • 1/2 head cabbage, cored and cut into strips
    • 1 15-oz can white northern beans, drained
    • 2 quarts veggie broth
    • 1 1/2 C small pasta shapes, cooked, reserve a bit of the cooking water, if possible
    • salt and pepper to taste

    1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over med-low heat. Add the carrots & onion, and cook for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. 

    2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, begin boiling the broth. In the pot with the carrot and onion, add the garlic, chard stems, & 1/4 parsley, stirring constantly for a couple of mins. Then, add the tomatoes & tomato juice & cook for 10 mins, stirring occasionally. 
    3. Add the tomato/onion/chard stem/etc. mixture to the boiling broth. In addition, add half of the cabbage leaves and half of the chard leaves. Bring to a boil, reduce, and simmer 30 mins, covered.
    4. While the soup is simmering, bring some water to a boil (I just used the same pot I cooked the veggies in--I didn't bother to rinse it). Add the remainder of the cabbage & chard leaves, cook for 2 mins, strain, and put in ice water to prevent further cooking. 
    5. After the soup has been cooking 30 mins, add the blanched cabbage, chard, 1/4 C parsley, pasta, & 2/3 of the white beans. Take the remainder of the white beans, a bit of the soup broth, and a bit of pasta water and puree. Add the puree to the soup and some salt & pepper. Serve immediately.
                                          My soups all look alike. See here, here, and here

                                                                    The fancy pasta I used!

                                                            So pretty while cooking!

    Kitchen Notes: The original recipe calls for 1 fewer carrots and 2 bunches of chard as well as a whole head (!) of garlic. It also calls for less broth and no pasta. Blanching the veggies helps to keep them crisp and green and gives the soup a beautiful color. It also calls for finishing it off with Parmesan cheese. In this recipe, each of the veggies are discretely tasted, so good ingredients are important.

    Verdict? A veggie-lover's soup. Nice full flavor. I love that it's hearty, filling, yet clean and light at the same time. I'm giddy about the nutrition packed into this soup, and it warms nicely on a winter day. I'm glad I decreased the amount of chard so that it didn't overwhelm, but I am always excited about a recipe that uses chard stems. And now, some pretty pictures of the beautiful carrots and chard one local farm still grows, even in December:



    1. I love this soup and all veggie soups. New here and just signed in to google friend connect. Buzzed your recipe too for foodbuzz. Now I am going to check out your vegan week I don't have a set schedule like that just off and on. Thanks for sharing. Happy Holidays!

    2. I love spinach and artichoke dip on just about anything...completly delicious.

      I love this challenge you all have set up for yourself.

    3. Thanks for the lovely comments--Rachel it's your beautiful spinach dip that I've made!