Nourish Your Soul With Minestrone

This week has been incredibly intense. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to those impacted by Hurricane Sandy. I feel immensely blessed that my family and friends are safe from harm and that we have our home, food and water. 

On top of the craziness of this week, it has been COLD. Winter has come early and I am NOT ready. One of the only things I get excited about for the winter is the cooking. Winter time means feeding yourself with comforting foods. BUT! This year I am turning those overly fattening, hibernation-causing, overly-cheesy, super decadent winter foods into healthy, nutritious and DELICIOUS meals. One of the recipes I played with was a minestrone recipe from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten. Of course, I always turn a recipe into my own to suit my vegan needs. Well, here it is. Enjoy!

What You Need: 

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion

2 cups (1/2-inch) diced carrots (3 carrots)

2 cups (1/2 inch) diced celery (3 stalks)

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 cup of purple kale, chopped (remove the spine and wash thoroughly)

1 large zucchini, sliced into half moons

26 ounces canned tomatoes (1 small can of whole peeled tomatoes, 1 large can roasted diced tomatoes)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups cooked small pasta (you can cook it in the soup!)

8 to 10 ounces of fresh baby spinach (2 big handfuls)

6 cups of vegetable stock

1/2 cup dry white wine (or cooking wine)

2 tablespoons store-bought pesto (I got pesto paste- no cheese!- has more concentrated pesto flavor)

1 bay leaf

Salt, Pepper to taste

How To Make It:

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, thyme and cook until vegetables soften. Add zucchini and stir. 

2. Add tomatoes, vegetable stock, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil and low the heat. Simmer for 30 minutes, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender. 15 minutes into the simmering process add the kale, let it wilt slightly. Toss in pasta and allow to cook. 

3. Disgard the bay leaf. Add the beans and heat through. Toss in spinach and stir in until leaves are wilted. Stir in white wine and pesto. Add another teaspoon or two of salt to taste. 

4. Serve with your favorite crostini/bruschetta/croutons and ENJOY!

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