When doctors and nutritionists point to the healthiness of the “Mediterranean diet,” too many people think, “Oh, I can eat lasagna loaded with cheese and meat and be healthy.” I do believe that there are times for lasagna, but I know that even made with whole grains and organic products or even spinach that it’s still not health food. Still, people from the Mediterranean do know how to eat to live. To celebrate the start of fall, we had a great Italian soup made with fresh garden ingredients: minestrone. I served it with crostini with pesto and garnished it with some petite Italian turkey meatballs, but you could leave those out and go entirely vegetarian instead.
Minestrone is health in a bowl if you make it properly. I started by cooking some navy beans with garlic and a parmesan rind until the beans were al dente.
- 1-2 cups cannellini or navy beans, cooked
- 1/2-1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 1-2 cloves minced garlic
- 2-4 cups fresh, seeded tomatoes (retain and use juice) or diced canned tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini, cut into chunks
- 1-2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
Cannellini beans are more traditional, but the navy beans substitute just fine. You can easily find canned cannellini beans too. My next step was to sauté a small diced onion while I diced a carrot and minced a stalk of celery. Then I sautéed the carrot and celery alongside the onion. As the trio begin to cook, add a clove of minced garlic. Next add 2-4 cups fresh or quality canned, chopped tomatoes, seeded but with juice retained and added to the soup. If you have any good zucchini, as we did, cut it into chunks and toss it in. Add back in the beans with any remaining cooking liquid. Add up to 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth. Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are tender, about 20-30 minutes.
I served petite turkey meatballs on top of the minestrone.
- 1/4 cup minced onion
- olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil)
- 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
- pinch crushed red pepper
- pinch salt
- 1/3 pound ground turkey (or lamb, beef, or chicken)
- 2-4 tablespoons whole-grain bread crumbs
- splash of broth sufficient for forming meatballs
I minced 1/4 cup onion and sautéed it in olive oil until the onion took on a little color. I added a clove of minced garlic just long enough for the garlic to get the harsh flavor out. Then I mixed the onion and garlic with about 2 teaspoons of dried Italian herbs (rosemary, oregano, basil), about a teaspoon of crushed fennel seed, a pinch each of crushed red pepper and salt, and 1/3 pound ground turkey. Add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup whole-grain bread crumbs. Mix and add a splash of minestrone broth or chicken broth. Using a teaspoon or small cookie scoop, form petite meatballs and cook in olive oil over medium heat, turning to brown all sides.
Serve minestrone in a broad bowl, placing meatballs on top, and garnish with fresh grated parmesan cheese and chiffonaded fresh basil. Add whole-grain crostini to work with the beans to increase the protein.
Fall makes me crave warm, healthy soups. Do you crave soup as temperatures drop? What’s your family’s favorite fall soup?
Copyright 2010 Ozark Homesteader.