March 03

Kale & Quinoa Minestrone

When I made the decision to put together a zillion soups for the basement freezer, I knew what a couple of my go-tos would be. I also wanted something chock full of vegetables. No meat. Something that would be hearty and filling, and of course, would withstand 6 months of freezer time. I’ve made minestrone once in my life. It was back when I did all those freezer meals for my dear friend with lupus a few summers back. I’ve had minestrone many times. Usually a highly touted restaurant’s batch of overly-salted, mushy-vegetable and under-done pasta soup. I won’t say I’m not a fan of minestrone, because I do like it. What’s available on the market and in restaurants around here isn’t worth a second try. Homemade though… you can’t go wrong if you find the right recipe. And really, minestrone is not hard to make. It’s a matter of finding the proper base. The right meld of flavors, the right combination of vegetables, the right everything.

I definitely believe I found that recipe.

More often than not, when I find someone else’s recipe to use, I take a long, hard look at their list of ingredients and customize it the way we like things. With this recipe, I wanted to follow it to the letter. However, I overlooked the fact that it called for thyme and that I didn’t have any in our cupboards. That was a bit shocking, but really, I only use thyme at Thanksgiving for the stuffing and I didn’t make stuffing this past year. Oh. And I added a can of corn. Because I had it. Why not? Otherwise, everything in this recipe came together perfectly.

When it came time to actually cooking the soup up, I had already plowed through Portuguese bean and ham & bean and figured I had time to bang out the minestrone, since that would mean there was only three left for the third and final day of cooking. Timing worked out well and I set it out to cool just as The Fellow™ got home. He proclaimed, “I’m starving!” with an addendum of he didn’t care what he ate. Ladled a little of the minestrone into a bowl and fired up the stove to make two grilled cheese sandwiches. I had been snacking (tasting, really) on soup all day long, so I had no interest in dinner. Not yet anyway. I walked into the living room with soup and sandwiches in hand, gave them to him, turned to head back into the kitchen and was met with the sounds of him noisily slurping up every last drop. I asked him if he actually tasted it. He nodded and smiled wide, like a happy child, and asked for more.

Sounds like a success to me. Or someone who doesn’t give two flying figs what’s going into their belly so long as they can feel full. Which is still success, methinks.

However, the real test will be how it holds up after it’s been defrosted and re-heated. Regardless if you make it in bulk for freezer or do it just for a Tuesday night dinner, I highly recommend every last drop of this.


Kale & Quinoa Minestrone

source:  Cooking Classy [Kale and Quinoa Minestrone]


1 large yellow onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 medium zucchini, quartered
2 cups green beans, cut into 1-inch segments
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounces unsalted or low-sodium vegetable broth
28 ounces crushed tomatoes
15 ounces corn
3 cups water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
15 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15 ounces can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped kale, thick ribs removed
1 Tablespoon lemon juice


1. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.

2. Saute diced onion, carrots, and celery about 5 minutes, until softened. Add in zucchini, green beans, red bell pepper to cook for about 2 minutes, then add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

3. Add in vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, water, rosemary, granulated sugar, salt, and pepper to taste and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, allowing soup to gently boil, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

4. Add in uncooked quinoa, then cover and cook 15 – 20 minutes longer.

5. Add cannellini beans, chickpeas, kale, and lemon juice. Cook, uncovered, until kale has wilted, about 5 minutes.