It is very important that we stay healthy and include some vegetables in our diet as they are rich in vitamins and fiber.
Last week I went to the supermarket and bought lots of vegetables: zucchini, carrots, red tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes.
Today I realized that the zucchini would not have lasted any longer and I did not want to waste such an important ingredient.
So I decided to make a big minestrone vegetable soup, and freeze part of it for the next weeks.
I have to say that now that I have more time to cook, the minestrone vegetable soup tasted better than usual. It must be due to the slow cooking at low heat!
In Italy we have many different recipes for the minestrone vegetable soup. The key principle is that: you just use whatever vegetables you have.
Ideally you should use different colored vegetables as each color carries each own set of health benefits.
If you don’t have cauliflower you can use broccoli or cabbage or any other vegetable you have.
If you don’t have fresh red tomatoes you can use some canned tomato sauce.
If you don’t have fresh vegetables, you use the frozen ones. So, let’s say you don’t have fresh zucchini you can use frozen spinach or mushrooms.
And if you buy lots of fresh vegetables at once, you can freeze them for the next weeks. For example, at the end of February I bought lots of onions. I washed, chopped and froze all of them. Now I still have enough onions to make my healthy soffritto with extra virgin olive oil, onions and tomatoes almost every day.
And it makes a huge difference if you make a soffritto also for the minestrone vegetable soup: it will be so much tastier and healthier as medical research shows that when vegetables are cooked in extra virgin olive oil, they better release all their nutrients.
And according to scientists, cooking with extra virgin olive oil is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean Diet is so healthy.
MINESTRONE VEGETABLE SOUP
Ingredients for 4 servings
-half onion, chopped
-3 tomatoes, sliced (or 2 tablespoons of canned tomato sauce)
-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
-2 zucchini, sliced
-2 carrots, sliced
-1 small cauliflower, in small pieces
-4 small potatoes, cut thin
-1 liter of broth (1 liter of water, 1 carrot, half onion, celery if you have it)
-1 flat teaspoon of sea salt
-pinch of chilly pepper
-pinch of oregano (or other herbs)
Prepare the broth in a pot.
In a separate non-sticking pan, put 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 ladles of broth, chopped onion and red tomatoes (or canned tomato sauce).
Sautè at low heat for 2-3 minutes to soften the onion and tomatoes. Then, add another ladle of broth and keep cooking at low heat.
Next you add the vegetables.
Note: you should not add all vegetables at once but one at the time and based on the time they take to cook. So that you don’t run the risk of overcooking them.
So first add the sliced potatoes to the soffritto, add 2/3 of the broth, stir and cover the pan with the lid. Keep cooking at low heat.
After 10-15 minutes, gently mash the potatoes with a wooden spoon so that the soup becomes thicker.
Then add the cauliflower (or cabbage) and carrots. Stir and add the remaining broth. Cover with the lid and cook for other 10-15 minutes at low heat.
Finally, add the zucchini (or spinach or mushrooms) and sea salt and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Switch off the flame and add a bit of chilly pepper, oregano and other herbs you may have.
Let the minestrone sit.
Serve on a plate and add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.
You may also a bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top (if you have it).
If you want, you can accompany the minestrone vegetable soup with a bit of pasta (about 50 grams per person, because the minestrone already has the potatoes).
Because I made so much minestrone soup, I froze the extra minestrone in two different jars so I can eat again vegetables next week.
What recipes with vegetables are you making?