Minestrone Verde (Spring Minestrone)
We spent last weekend in Thredbo, which was just gorgeous, very green, but bitterly cold. I think it topped 7 degrees on the Saturday! When we got home Sunday night it was raining and cold in Sydney. We needed something quick, warming and nourishing for dinner and I thought only of making soup.
This soup makes the most of those great spring vegies – asparagus, fennel, peas, silverbeet or rainbow chard (pictured below) and zucchini. Combined with a tin of cannellini beans and homegrown parsley and basil, it was a quick and easy Sunday night dinner and the leftovers were perfect for lunch for the next few days.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 small or 1 large brown onion(s) (240g), finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 small fennel (250g, 2 cups approx), finely sliced
- 1 bunch silverbeet* or rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated, washed well
- 2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock (I used Massel’s concentrated liquid vegetable stock)
- 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
- 3 zucchinis (350g, 2 1/4 cups), cut into half-moons
- 1 bunch asparagus, bottoms broken off, then cut into 3cm pieces
- 1 1/2 cups (210g) freshly podded or frozen peas
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly torn (or other fresh herbs)
- 20g fresh parmesan, to serve (replace with nutritional yeast for vegan version)
- Heat a large pan over medium heat. When hot add oil and onions and sautee for 10 minutes, adding a little water if the onions start to stick.
- When the onion is soft, add garlic, fennel and the stalks of the silverbeet which have been cut into 1cm widths and cook for 8 minutes, with the lid on, but removing it every 2 minutes to stir and prevent sticking. Again add a little water as needed.
- Add cannellini beans, zucchini and finely shredded silverbeet leaves, and stock and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add asparagus and peas and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Serve topped with shaved parmesan and sprinkled with fresh basil, parsley or coriander.
Per Serve (with parmesan): 653kJ or 155 calories; P 9.5g Fat 4.8g SFat 1g CHO 15g Fibre 9g
*Silverbeet or Rainbow Chard – (Kale or Spinach can be used in place) – Well it’s green, so it must be healthy – and it is! Brimming with disease-fighting antioxidants and phytonutrients, rainbow chard is also low in calories, fat-free, high in fibre and a good source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as magnesium, potassium and iron.
Green leafy vegetables like silverbeet and rainbow chard contain good amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that are concentrated in the eye. Studies show these antioxidants help protect the eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. Their exceptional vitamin K content may also play an important role in preventing osteoporosis.
Swiss chard stands out from other green leafy vegetables thanks to a unique phytonutrient called betalain, which comes from its bright red and yellow pigments. Many of the betalain pigments in Swiss chard have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties.