We have had some beautiful 80-degree days of late, and while I am loathe to look a gift-horse in the mouth, I’ve nevertheless been longing for more mild weather before plunging headlong into summer. Call me crazy, but summer in March is a bit much.
My wish came true. I opened the back door to feed kitty and was greeted by cool, gray morning, hovering in the mid-50s; I could have sworn I was transported back to my beloved SF Bay Area. After swearing off soup but a few days before, I found myself pulling out a pot around mid-day for a quick batch of minestrone.
I had an odds and ends assortment of vegetables the refrigerator, which inspired me to make an improvised minestrone. Kevin seemed particularly pleased to see them head into some soup (I had made a zucchini, apple and kale “smoothie” days before that sent him out the door in haste).
Quinoa made its way into the pot in place of traditional pasta; it’s such an easy swap or addition and makes for a really filling and delicious soup. Have you tried quinoa yet? It is an amazing superfood grain of the Incas. It has an earthy, nutty flavor, and cooks in less than 20 minutes. Best yet, it is one of the few plant-based sources of protein that is complete, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Pretty amazing!
Some cornmeal biscuits, baked the day before, were waiting for a dunk in some soup. It didn’t have much of a wait; the soup was ready for ladling into bowls in under 30 minutes. Enjoy!
- Quick Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
- Makes 6 big servings
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1-1/4 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium-large onion)
- 1-1/4 cups chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots—no need to peel)
- 1 cup chopped celery (about 2 large stalks)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
- ⅔ cup quinoa
- Optional: one 15-ounce can whole potatoes, drained and diced
- 8 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
- 1-1/2 tbsp Italian herb seasoning
- 1 19-oz can red kidney or white beans, rinsed and drained (I had some of both!)
- Optional: fresh basil leaves, sliced and grated Parmesan cheese (no cheese if vegan)
- Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Add kale and cook and stir 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes with juice, quinoa, broth, and herbs and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Place half of beans in a small bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Stir mashed and whole beans into soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with basil and Parmesan, if desired.