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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Minestrone

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:07 Written by Flax Thursday, 24 February 2011 01:02

This soup is really just a vegetable soup, like any other, except that I add beans, lentils and pasta to it.  Also at the end I add pesto, which to my mind is what then transforms it from a hearty vegetable soup and into a minestrone.

Health-wise, nothing is better than eating vegetables.  In the winter, soup is the ultimate way to be eating them.  Beans, especially red kidney beans are also wonderful winter foods.  They nourish the kidneys, the organ that should be strengthened in the winter.

Please note as well, how the recipe includes, white, orange and  green vegetables.  When you include all  three colors of  vegetables in your meals, you can be sure that they will be balanced both with regard to nutrition and with regard to flavor.

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup lentils
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, chopped
  • 1 celeriac (celery root), peeled and chopped
  • 1 broccoli stalk, peeled and chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 liters water
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pasta, penne or elbow noodles
  • turmeric
  • salt and pepper

Pesto:

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

Oil the bottom of a large soup pot.  Saute the onion until translucent.  Add the carrot, garlic, broccoli stalk, parsnip, and celeriac, and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes until they are slightly reduced.  Add the water, bring to a boil, and add the tomato, sweet potato, turmeric and pepper. Lower the flame and simmer for 2 hours.

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

Ten minutes before serving add the pasta, salt, and the pesto.

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.

Enjoy!

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Celery Soup

Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 December 2010 02:42 Written by Flax Wednesday, 29 December 2010 01:54

Celery is an amazing food. It is one of the only vegetables that we use the root, the stalks and the leaves as well. While in the West, it is not as common to cook with the leaves, due to their strong bitter taste, it is commonly used in Middle Eastern dishes. The bitter flavor is the one of the most ignored flavors in foods. The bitter flavor cleanses the blood and allows the removal of toxins. Eating bitter foods helps us to deal with the bitter part of life. Eating only sweet foods resembles a desire for life to be like a Disney movie, always a happy ending. (Is that what life is really like?) While the celery stalks and root are bitter as well, the sweet helps to cover a little of the bitter taste and helps it be palatable to people who are not used to eating bitter foods. Emotionally, we understand that the bitter and the sweet go together and that is where we can find happiness.
Celery is an amazing food for another reason as well. Eating celery helps cut cravings for sweet. All bitter foods do that, but celery helps to dry damp conditions from having eaten too much sweet in the past. That is what makes celery the perfect diet food. Celery combined with lemon is useful for diabetes, high blood pressure or headaches caused by a heat condition (red face and irritability). Celery is also high in silicon which helps to renew joints, bones, arteries and all connective tissues, this makes it useful in the treatment of arthritis, gout, rheumatism and nerve inflammation.
To kick off a diet in the spring or summer I would recommend a green smoothie made with celery, radishes, sprouts and carrots. For the cold winter months however I recommend starting with celery soup which will allow you to benefit from the healing properties of the celery but in a warmer fashion.

Ingredients:

olive oil
1 celeriac (celery root), diced
1 large celery, stalks and leaves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 liters water
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, chopped small
2 carrots, chopped
1/4 cup green lentils
1/2 bunch parsley
1/2 bunch coriander
turmeric
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot, saute the onion and the celery stalks for 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the remaining vegetables and spices and simmer for 1/2 hour or longer. Add the chopped celery leaves, coriander and parsley. Cover and simmer for five more minutes.

Serve warm accompanied with garlic bread and black-eyed pea pate.

Enjoy!

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