Jen’s Minestrone

Minestrone Soup (1)

There is nothing like cooking. Sure, there’s gardening, but it’s winter. There’s Yoga too, and walking on the beach, noodling with your dog, or giggling with a girlfriend. All of this can restore you to yourself. But there is nothing quite like cooking to really take you home.

So when we all went for a hike and a swim on New Year’s Day, and my sister Jen stayed home to prepare this minestrone soup, I watched her do something I love to do and saw in her doing, the beauty of that ritual.

Jen turned to Food52 for inspiration, adapting (and I believe improving) this recipe. It’s more feast than soup – hearty enough to satisfy, light enough to make a happy belly and start your new year healthy.

Jen skipped the pesto, serving it simply with chopped parsley, parmesan and pepitas (with a lot of help from Mama). It was perfect like that, but I add the recipe for pesto in case you want that extra flavor punch.

minestrone soup cu

Smoky Minestrone Soup, adapted from Food 52
Serves 6-8

3 T ghee
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
1 t chipotle powder
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1 c purple cabbage, sliced and
4 c vegetable broth, preferably homemade
1 & 1/2 c of cooked “Orca” beans (or, 1  15 oz. can of organic cooked beans)
3 c tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped (or 1 28 oz. can of peeled tomatoes, with juice)
Pink salt or sea salt, & fresh cracked pepper
1 c spinach, chopped fine
2 c high quality, all-natural cheese tortellini, optional

Aged balsamic vinegar
Pine nuts
Grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat 3 tablespoons of the ghee in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, garlic and leek. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until softened. Stir in chipotle and let sauté one minute before adding the chopped carrot, celery, zucchini, cabbage and stir around for a minute or two. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as you go. Add a few generous pinches of salt (be judicious if your stock is salted already), and a grind of two of pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes. Add the spinach and tortellini and continue to cook over a simmer about 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve garnished with a spoonful of the pesto, a few drops of the aged balsamic, a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkling of pine nuts and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Be generous here – this is where the soup goes from wholesome to holy.

*Parsley or Basil Pesto

cup loosely packed basil or parsley
tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
cloves garlic, peeled
tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
tablespoon olive oil

Chop the basil or parsley by hand until it’s very fine, reducing it down to 1/4 cup.

Chop the garlic and mash the pine nuts until fine.  Incorporate the ingredients in a small bowl and stir in the olive oil. Use as a garnish for the minestrone.

* You can make this vegan by replacing the ghee with coconut oil, the pasta with a vegan one, and the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast.

minestrone soup

New Year Healthy: This soup is great for your New Year’s wellness plan. With a rich spectrum of vegetables, parsley, and beans, it is low in fat, but high in macro/micro nutrients and fiber. Parmesan cheese is a dry, aged cheese so while  adding body to the soup, it is low in fat, and high in digestive enzymes. Chipotle and garlic not only ramp up flavor, they are helpful for winter’s sometimes sluggish digestion. Carrots give the sweet taste that keeps us grounded in Vata season while celery adds the bitter taste that helps purify.

What are your new year plans for self care, self love and self nourishment? 


19 thoughts on “Jen’s Minestrone

  1. You are magical! San Diego is not as bright without you here. We are full steam ahead for a move June. Perhaps you and your mum want to come on the Ireland trip this year?/I would do the best discount I can. Alina I’d joining also Love you

  2. Aah! Just what is needed for this frozen January in NWPA. ❄️
    Many thanks to your sister for preparing and to you for posting!
    This New Year I am continuing to nurture myself with healthy whole foods, and look foward to a time of cleansing. In many areas of my life I am trending toward doing less, and being more. Spending time in silence and solitude allows me to clear the air from “shoulds”, “oughts” and “wants” to rest into right where I am, and follow the path as it unfolds by doing what’s right in front of me. Many thanks for all of your offerings, Gratefully received.

  3. Thanks for the inspiration of colour and heartiness!

    A couple of questions: one tsp of chipotle, is that chopped pepper, powder, canned or what form?

    Two: I was quite surprised to see the recipe included cheese tortellini- wheat and dairy really? I wasn’t expecting a vegan dish, but was very surprised to see pasta included here. Maybe it was left out in the photo, but a nice alternative would be to add sweet potatoes, serve on brown rice, as with all the legumes, adding pasta would make it very heavy and hard to digest in my opinion.

    Thanks again,

    Light and love, Lesley

    1. Oh- good questions! 1. It was chipotle powder (ground). 2. You are quite right. It doesn’t need the tortellini, and sweet potato would be a great alternative. Thank you Lesley.

  4. Warm soups, warm hugs and dreaming of warm climates again are some of my nurturing gems during these cold winter months. I do love the bareness of our Canadian landscapes, seeing the nakedness of the trees and tuning into my own vulnerabilities, and thinking about new ways to nurture my mind and body, reflect on my intentions. I love chanting, yoga, dancing, and my 40 day meditations with a online global group to keep me plugged in during this season of less physical connection to others. And of course dinner parties, as music and food connects and nurtures us all!

  5. I love this and adding the cheese tortellini is perfect for my vegetarian/meat eating family. My Sweet daughter Valerie made a wonderful vega potato soup to serve at our Christmas gathering. It gave us the idea of having a soup cook off next year. I am going to practice this one for next year. XO to you Sweet Laura

  6. “I saw in her doing, the beauty of that ritual”. This resonates deeply Laura – you said it perfectly. And this is a real deal minestrone! I love the chipotle in it especially. Will be making this soon. I hope you enjoyed the holidays Laura and are having a wonderful start to the New Year!

  7. Laura, I love it, it’s so colored and healthy. During spring or summer you can add nettles too; my old aunt who lived in the countryside had a vegetable garden and her minestrone was delicious. Unfortunately at that time I was too young to learn how to make it.

  8. I was thinking of you today while making a big pot of vegetable stew with lots of onion, carrot, celery, potato and garlic. I like the nettle tip above, they are just starting to show their wild selves in the canyon. Winter really is a time of “tuning in to our own vulnerabilities” and connecting quietly over a steaming bowl of soup – or a thoughtful blog post. Lots of love, Sally

    1. It is so nice to hear from you Sally, and get a little taste of your life. Live that the nettles are peeking out. Your nettle teas have always been such an important part of my spring care. Sending you love from the other coast.

  9. Thanks for the inspiration of colour and heartiness!

    A couple of questions: one tsp of chipotle, is that chopped pepper, powder, canned or what form?

    Two: I was quite surprised to see recipe with cheese tortellini- wheat and dairy really? I wasn’t expecting a vegan dish, but was very surprised to see pasta posted. Maybe it was left out in the photo, but a nice alternative would be to add sweet potatoes, serve on brown rice. With all the legumes, adding pasta would make it hard to digest don’t you think?

    Thanks for sharing,


What nourishes you?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s