The weather is still a bit bizarre here in New York — it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s hot, it’s cold. Yesterday was a cold day and I took the opportunity to make my new all-time favorite soup. This will likely be my last soup post of the season but I am so enthralled by it that it may show up again in my kitchen! There is one crucial component to this soup — you must soak and boil your own beans and reserve the cooking liquid from the beans for your stock. This makes the soup creamy, delicious, and hearty. I’ve tried it several different ways and this is the way to go. Plus, it’s economical and you avoid any nasty chemicals that may be present in canned beans and packaged broth (see my article in The Atlantic on obesogens for more on this). It’s delicious and healthful — make it before summer is upon us.
Very Best Minestrone
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 to 2 cups chopped greens, I like kale, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
4 cups cooked white beans
about 1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice (I used Pomi)
about 6 to 8 cups bean cooking liquid (you can add water if you don’t have enough)
3 to 4 tbl olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot saute the onions in about 2 tbl of olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for several minutes. Then add the remaining olive oil with the garlic, parsley, beans, and greens and stir and cook for several more minutes or until garlic is fragrant and greens are wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, bean-broth, water, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan and more fresh chopped parsley.
Beans come in many varieties but for most of them: white, navy, kidney, pinto, black — the nutritional benefits are very similar. Beans contain high amounts of fiber and protein and are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. They also contain iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Richly colored dried beans offer high amounts of antioxidants. Beans are also protective against cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, researchers found a significantly reduced frequency of breast cancer in women who had a higher intake of beans or lentils.
Parsley is an extremely potent healing food. It is rich in large numbers of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. Parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, and iron and is a good source of minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties and is regarded as a nerve stimulant that helps with energy production. Parsley’s volatile oil components have all shown to have anticancer effects. Parsley is also a good cleansing food and helps with liver health.
Kale is a member of the cabbage family and as such, exhibits the same kind of anticancer properties as all the other members of this family. Kale is actually one of the most nutritious vegetables, with high amounts of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. It is a great source of calcium, iron, and copper as well as dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. As you can see from its deep green color, kale is very high in chlorophyll. The deeper green your vegetable, the more health benefits it contains and kale is one of the darkest!