This recipe comes from the Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Clean Eating Magazine, in a feature on comfort foods. It's been so cold here in MI (my hair and eyelashes actually froze on my run this weekend) that comfort food is just right. I like that it uses quinoa for several reasons--we had some leftover from last week, I'm always looking for new ways to use it, and it meant I wouldn't have to swap out whatever pasta shape called for with brown rice pasta to make it safe for The Wheat-Allergic H.
Minestrone Soup with Quinoa
Serves 8 - Makes 8 cups
Hands-on time 15min - Total time 35min
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, sliced into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup fennel, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup red onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, mined
2 bay leaves
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 cups cooked white kidney beans, drained
2 cups fresh tomatoes, peeled/seeded/diced
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup fresh spinach, sliced into thin ribbons
3 Tbsp fresh basil, sliced thinly
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated, optional
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots, fennel, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and fennel seeds, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add 6 cups water, beans, tomatoes, and quinoa. Increase to high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently until quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and basil just before serving. Garnish each bowl with cheese, if desired.
I omitted the fennel (both bulb and seeds), added 1 parsnip, an extra carrot and an extra onion, used a pint of grape tomatoes, leftover quinoa that had been cooked in veggie broth, used 1 tsp each dried thyme and basil, used red kidney beans and some leftover butter beans, and decreased the water to 5 cups since my quinoa didn't need to absorb any to cook. I also forgot I wanted to make this a "Meatless Monday" recipe and added two packets of reduced-sodium chicken broth concentrate before I remembered that. It was delicious, filling and fresh. The H said it was good, and had two servings. I'm experimenting with freezing one of the leftover portions since it made quite a bit and I don't want it to go bad in the fridge before one of us can get to it.