Crockpot Minestrone

Last Updated on Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44 Written by Flax Monday, 6 February 2012 12:44

I really do love using my crockpot in the winter.  Not only do I come home to a warm nourishing meal, I also come home to a house that smells great.  Crockpot cooking is also a much safer way to cook large beans as you don’t have to leave the stove on for long periods of time.  (Maybe it’s my own anxiety, but I’m always afraid that I will forget that the stove is on and accidentally burn down the house.)  Smaller beans, such as the adzuki beans and the mung bean are wonderful summer beans as they require under an hour cooking time.  Larger beans such as the kidney  bean, garbanzo bean,  and of course the fava bean require much longer cooking times and are much more appropriate for the winter where it is appropriate to keep a dish simmering for even an entire day.

Crockpot cooking also happens to provide an excellent solution for “working mom’s” who are sometimes the last ones to walk through the door.  Either prepare the food in the morning before leaving, or if your morning are just too busy, prepare all of the ingredients the night before and then just plug-in the crockpot the following morning.  It’s like magic!  Your family has a  healthy nourishing meal without your even being home!

The recipe below is for minestrone.  Minestrone is a hearty Italian vegetable soup which is essentially a whole meal.  The soup has red kidney beans which are a wonderful winter food as they nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.  Please note how the recipe includes, white, orange, and  green vegetables.  When all  three colors of  vegetables are in a dish, you can be sure that the dishl will be balanced, both with regard to nutrition, as well as with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 parsnips, diced
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), diced
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/8 cup brown rice
  • turmeric
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • pepper

Pesto:

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 2 tbsp roasted pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

To prepare the soup, place all of the soup ingredients, other than the salt, in a crockpot.  Set the crockpot to  low and allow to cook for 8-12 hours.

Prepare the pesto by pureeing all of the ingredients together in a food processor until you have a smooth paste .  Set aside.

Add the salt and the pesto to the soup a few minutes before serving.

Serve hot.  Serves 6-8.

Note:  When beans are cooked with salt the skin doesn’t soften and they remain hard.  It is preferable to add the salt only after they are at least slightly cooked.

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Nutritional Healer and teaches Healthy Cooking Classes.

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Crock-pot Split-Pea Soup

Last Updated on Tuesday, 3 January 2012 02:00 Written by Flax Tuesday, 3 January 2012 01:54

Seasonal cooking calls for heavy winter soups and stews. The longer you cook a food, the more warming it is, and no soup needs to cook for longer than a split pea soup. My favorite way to cook split pea soup is in a crock pot. I toss in the peas  first thing in the morning, add some water and then forget about it for the rest of the day. The all day cooking makes the peas incredibly soft, and I think just the smell of the soup heats up the house.
If you happen to have more time in the morning then add the remaining ingredients first thing, otherwise add the rest of the ingredients at various times of the day when you have a few moments.  I find that the remaining ingredients work well on only 3-4 hours of cooking time.

Every crock pot cooks differently, I will tell you my method but keep in mind that your crock pot might cook faster or slower than mine. One of my favorite crock pot tricks  is to start off with boiling water. Using already boiling water cuts hours off of crock pot cooking time. When preparing split peas, I find it important to make sure that the peas cook for long enough (otherwise, pop out those pepto-bismols). Since this is a soup recipe and extra cooking time will only help, it’s preferable to have it cook for longer, so I advise starting out with boiling water.

Notice that I use an interesting combination of spices in this soup. The spices are part North African and part Germanic. Turmeric and cumin are more North African, while bay leaf and caraway seed are more German. While it is a strange combination, I find that they work well together. What is interesting for me is the similar and yet different roles these spices play.
Turmeric and bay leaf are very common spices used in foods as they both help with the digestion. They are used when cooking legumes to prevent flatulence and to promote proper digestion.
Turmeric, one of the most important spices, functions as a a liver cleanser.  Turmeric helps with the digestion of fats and oils and should be eaten every day.  Turmeric has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It is also a natural anti-viral and anti-biotic and it keeps our food as well as our bodies healthy by eliminating pathogens.
Bay leaf, while also a digestive aid, works primarily on the lungs. It is a pulmonary antiseptic and an expectorant and is a wonderful remedy for someone who has a cold or who is congested.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1/2 kilo split peas, (soaked overnight)
  • 4 liters boiling water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 4 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1 kohlrabi or turnip, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 cup beer (optional)
  • 1 marrow bone (optional)
  • salt and pepper

Croutons and/or hot dog slices for garnish.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, saute the onions for 2 minutes and then add to the crock pot.  Discard the soaking water and add the peas to the crock pot as well.  Add the remaining ingredients, other than the salt.  Cook on high for a minimum of eight hours. Add the salt only after the peas have slightly softened.
If you prefer to cook the soup in two stages than put half of the water and all of the peas in the crock pot.  Cook on high for around 4 hours. At a convenient point mid-day, saute the onion and add them, along with the remaining ingredients, to the crock pot. Continue to cook on high for at least 4 more hours.

Garnish with croutons and hot dog slices (big hit with the kids!)

Sima Herzfeld Navon is a Cooking Instructor and a Nutritional Healer.

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Sup on Soup

Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 12:04 Written by Flax Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:35

Personally, after a month of holidays, I feel the need to lighten up the meals and drop off some of that extra weight.  One statistic claims that the average Israeli manages to gain 2.5 kilo (5 lbs.) over the month of Tishrei!  Perhaps what we really mean by mar-Chesvan is diet-Cheshvan.   Ironically enough, some of the best foods to assist in weight loss are bitter foods, examples of which include, radish and celery.  While eating a radish a day is beneficial for anyone trying to lose weight,  one of the best ways to feel full while shedding some weight is with a hearty vegetable soup.  Soup is a water based food that is extremely filling while also being low in calories.  To turn a vegetable soup into a full meal I add whole grains to the soup as a thickener while simultaneously adding nutritional value.  I also tend to puree my soups so that the individual ingredients become unidentifiable.  This trick is especially helpful with picky eaters who are afraid of new foods.

This recipe below is a healthier version of a Russian Spinach Soup. While the real Russian would use potatoes, I try to avoid that.  Potatoes happen to be one of the most fattening foods around, not a good choice for anyone wanting to lose weight.  Instead of using a potato, I use both millet and quinoa.  The grains thicken the soup in the same manner as a potato would, but they are a whole lot healthier.  While really any grain can be used here, I chose to use quinoa, for its nutritional value and millet as a wonderful way to balance the spinach.

Quinoa, considered only a few years ago to be exotic, is now a popular food.  The rise in popularity of quinoa  is due to its wonderful nutritional value.  Quinoa has the highest protein content of any grain, has more calcium than milk and is a very good source of iron, phosphorous, and vitamins B and E.  Millet on the other hand, might be one of the least used grains.

Millet is also high in protein and it has a rich silicon content.  Millet is a great food to eat while pregnant and it is helpful in preventing miscarriage. Millet is also used in  treating candida, this is due to its anti-fungal properties. Millet is  the most drying of the grains and is beneficial to a state of excess.  Eating millet during the month of  Cheshvan will help us to lose weight by restoring our normal balance after a month of feasting.  Combining spinach and millet is a very good practice.  While millet is very drying, spinach is very slippery.  The two foods harmonize each other both in flavor and by nature.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 bunches spinach, washed well
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 5 sprigs dill
  • 2 liters water
  • 2 cups oat milk (optional)
  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot. Saute the onion until they soften. Add the carrots and celery and continue to saute for five minutes more. Add the water and the oat milk and bring to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on a low flame for one hour.  Remove from the flame and puree.

Serve hot.  Serves 6

Note: Adding a little bit of hiziki (seaweed) to your bowl of soup will add nutritional value as well as promote weight loss.

Sima Herzfeld Navon has a clinic for holistic medicine and nutritional counseling.  She also teaches healthy cooking.

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