Friday 8 June 2012

MLLA Minestrone and some vegetarian reflections

Every now and again I notice a gap in my recipe index.  Something that I make a lot but have never posted.  I love a big pot of minestrone on the stove.  It is a simple matter of throwing together lots of vegetables and pasta in a tomato sauce.  Easy, cheap, healthy.  What's not to love!

Once I started to make it last week I started questioning this version.  I found that every time I make it, I make it slightly differently.  So this is not the definitive version.  There isn't one.  It is however fairly representative of the types of minestrone I make and love.

Variations that I quite often make include tinned tomatoes instead of passata; other vegetables such as green beans, capsicum, zucchini, potato or even marinated vegetables; bayleaves and other Italian herbs (I used homemade stock that I know had herbs from the garden); ravioli instead of plainer pasta; spinach or kale instead of silverbeet; kidney beans, chickpeas or lima beans instead of cannelini or borlotti beans.  The list is endless.

I made this minestrone to eat with the Cheese and onion beer bread on the weekend.  It was easy enough to chop the vegetables while Sylvia had her bath.  (Dash out to the back garden for a handful of silverbeet.)  Let it simmer while I dried her and dressed in her pyjamas.  Once she was in bed, E and I sat down with a bowlful of stew.  We were left with plenty for a few lunches and a quick dinner during the week.

Lastly here are a couple of vegetarian reflections:
  • The Age newspaper had an article on 4 June about a Vegetarian diet.  It is is reasonably positive but has an odd title: The Terrors of Tofu: the Real Risks of Turning Vegetarian.  (Thanks to  EssMick for the link.)  I was surprised that it advises people that they should talk to their doctor when they turn vegetarian.  Do people do this?  I don't think I did but I read about nutrition and spoke to friends who were vegetarian.
  • I was really pleased to talk to a Queen Vic Market Stallholder at one of the cheese counters (the one near the door to the fruit and veg aisle that sells lots of butter) and find that they not only have quite a few vegetarian cheeses but they also label them so I don't need to keep asking questions.
  • On our recent visit to the vet, he said he didn't know why people fed cats foods that simulated meat when you could feed them meat.  I said I was a vegetarian and understood why anyone might eat mock meat.  The nice thing was that he got it once I said it.
  • Most days when Sylvia has been at child care and I ask what she had for lunch, she tells me (with glee) "vegetarian meat".  I think  it is a vegetarian schnitzel but when I ask the child care workers they tell me she only has that occasionally.
I am sending this to My Legume Love Affair (#48), founded by Susan of the Well Seasoned Cook and hosted by Valerie of A Canadian Foodie this month.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: Maple scones and trash and treasure
Two years ago: Advice for Gluten Free beginners and kids
Three years ago: GF Apricot and Cranberry Cake
Four years ago: Polenta Quinoa Sticks with Rhubarb Sauce
Five years ago: Kraut Rock Cupcakes

serves about 6

Slurp of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
3-4 garlic bulbs, finely chopped
1/8 cabbage, diced
2 cups vegetable stock
2 and 1/2 cups water
700ml passata (pureed tomatoes or can used tinned tomatoes)
2 x 400g tins of beans (I used cannelini and borlotti)
handful of silverbeet, roughly chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1 and 1/2 cups small pasta pieces
black pepper, freshly ground
pesto, torn basil or grated parmesan, to serve

Heat olive oil in stockpot.  Chop vegetables in that order that they appear in the ingredients list and as they are ready throw them in the pot, stirring occasionally.  Once the cabbage is added, stir for another 5 or so minutes.  Add stock, water, passata, beans, silverbeet, red wine and salt.  Check seasoning and add more salt if necessary (it will depend on your stock).  Bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.  Add pasta and simmer for another 25 minutes or until pasta is cooked.  Add black pepper.  Check and adjust seasoning again.  Serve with basil, pesto or parmesan.

On the Stereo:
The Essential Klaus Schulze 72-93


  1. Such a hearty delicious stew! I often throw together stews too, and never post them because they are impromptu recipe-less affairs.

    In a country like India, a large proportion of the population is vegetarian and have been for centuries. No one thinks anything of it. If you ask a doctor's advice, I suspect it would more reflect their own personal beliefs about diet rather than anything evidence-based.

    1. Thanks Nupur - I thought it odd to talk to a doctor about being vegetarian as I have found that quite a few health professionals don't have a good grasp of nutritional issues for vegetarians - but in India I would hope that doctors know a bit more about implications of being vegetarian and maybe even the populations general knowledge is a bit better too.

  2. That minestrone looks delicious! all those fresh veggies..yum! and vegetarian meat --- how precious! haha...thanks for sharing! have a great weekend!

    1. Thanks GF happy tummy - give me fresh veggies over vegetarian meat any time :-)

  3. that is one delightful looking soup!

  4. What a lovely minestrone! I have lots of greens in the fridge, too...

    1. Thanks Astra - lots of green in the fridge is a good thing but I always worry they will wilt before i get to use them - am sure you will find something yummy for them

  5. You know, I like a good minestrone, but I never think to make it, either. And believe it or not, I had no idea that there were "non-vegetarian" cheeses!! Isn't cheese just made from milk--?? And now that you told that anecdote about Sylvia, I'd be wondering what she DID eat on those other days! ;-)

    1. Thanks Ricki - we should have it more often - a great way to have pasta and your vegie too. Cheese is often made with rennet, which is the lining of calves stomachs (I think) - it took me quite some time after becoming vegetarian to really understand it but now I try to eat veg cheeses as much as possible.

      Yup what Sylvia eats at child care is often a mystery - they put up menus for the kids each day but they don't have the dietary variations for vegetarians (and kids with other "special diets") so it doesn't help me that much.

  6. This is a lovely recipe, and it is good to have a 'go to' base for minestrone as it's such a great dish but can vary enormously in ingredients and taste! This sounds like a great version and I love how hearty it looks.

    Those points on vegetarianism are interesting too, particularly that article in The Age. It would never have occurred to me to speak to a doctor (or dietitian) about vegetarianism, but I suppose if people jumped in without much consideration it could be challenging to get everything one needs.

    1. Thanks Kari - I am not sure where I got this version of minestrone but have been making it for years - probably learnt from a series of housemates which is how I learnt to cook.

      It never occurred to me to speak to a doctor when I went vegetarian - but I have had a friend who had so many problems with iron that the doctor advised her to give up being veg - so maybe it is more of a case of see doctor if there are problems.

  7. Your minestrone sounds really good, I love these types of meals that make so many leftovers. It can be difficult to write down a recipe that you are always playing around with, I have a few like that on my blog that I posted last year but they are constantly changing.

    I read that article last week too and don't believe there is much merit in discussing a vegetarian diet with your doctor prior to making the change. Nutrition seems to be an area that GPs lack depth of knowledge in. If you are not up to doing the research yourself, a visit to a dietician or nutritionist would be far more beneficial in my opinion.

    1. Thanks Mel - I find that often I make recipes off my blog and change them too (and sometimes even wonder why I did something else in the first place) but it is good to record a moment in time.

      I agree that GPs are not that hot on nutrition esp when talking about vegetarians - I found this when I decided to bring up sylvia as a vegetarian - the ignorance in some of the health professionals was shocking (esp as they are still quite willing to give an opinion). So I think you would need to find the right person if you did want to consult someone.

  8. i made your recipe on friday! simple, delicious...volume lasted for 2 days...even carnivore husband enjoyed it! loved it...said tastes just like daddy's meat i proved that vegan can taste just as good!...thank you for your inspiration : )

    1. Thanks Eva - glad it impressed everyone - it is a very satisfying meal - hope sylvia loves it one day :-)

  9. The minestrone sounds delicious - I like the idea of having lots of different bits and pieces to enjoy. I never make it for myself as I'd end up with enough for a week and get bored of it!
    Interesting article, but really bizarre title - the tone of the article is nothing like the tone of the title. How odd. I can't imagine people consult their doctor before becoming vegetarian. I'm not vegetarian, but eat that way probably 95%+ of the time, and wouldn't dream of consulting my GP about my diet - I think they'd laugh at me!

    1. Thanks Caroline - this is the sort of thing I would make for myself when I lived alone and have lots of it in the freezer for lunches and lazy nights.

      The article does have a bizarre title. I've never thought to see a doctor just to ask about diet - I would worry I was timewasting. Though I have had low iron at times over the years so when this happens I have talked about diet with doctors.

  10. That looks delicious, Johanna. x


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