Even I’ll admit, there are days when I’ve simply had too much cheesecake, and a few too many croissants and deep-fried chicken wings. I’m often left feeling bloated, clogged up and frankly, quite disgusted with myself. To remedy this, I switch to temple-mode and focus on clean, fresh, light foods. Although I always aim to drag this phase on for as long as I can, it realistically only lasts a couple of days. I cram in as much goodness in this time as I can muster, and this minestrone features frequently as a temple-mode lunch.
This is not tomato-based like the more traditional, hearty ones that you’ve probably had before. I favour using clear vegetable/chicken stock for maximum cleansing effect, and it is also prettier to look at because the colours of the vegetables stand out more. There’s also my personal touch of adding a heap of torn baby spinach leaves at the bottom of the bowl before ladling the boiling soup over. The velvet-y texture and subtle crunch of just-wilted spinach adds a lovely texture to the dish, since the rest of the veg becomes rather soft, and not to mention, provides a great nutritional boost. For myself, I keep this minestrone carb-free; no potatoes, no beans, no pasta. Again, for detox purposes. But when I serve this to the kids, I like adding some cooked brown rice or whole-wheat orzo, plus some shredded chicken or tofu to make it a complete meal. This soup ticks so many boxes for me. It’s quick to prepare, economical, it tastes delicious and is nourishing for the body, and the
monkeys sweet children like it. There’s currently nothing better in life than to watch the little ones eat their dinners happily and peacefully. This is definitely a keeper.
(serve 2 adults and 2 children)
1 leek (about 200g), split in half, trimmed, and sliced into 1-cm half moons
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in small dice
2 celery stalk, peeled and cut in small dice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini (about 250g), cut in 1-inch dice
100g fine asaparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-cm pieces
100g French beans, trimmed and cut into 1-cm pieces
1 -1.5 litre vegetable/chicken stock
1/2 a piece of chicken stock cube/1 tsp of concentrated chicken stock (optional)
100g baby spinach, roughly torn
salt and pepper to taste
Saute leek, celery and carrot in the oil until softened slightly.
Add the minced garlic, stir and leave to cook for 1-min.
Add zucchini and French beans and stir thoroughly.
Cover the vegetables with vegetable/chicken stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat right down and simmer with the lid on, for 10-min.
Test for seasoning and add stock cube/stock concentrate at this point if the soup still tastes weak. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the asparagus and simmer for another 3-min, or until all vegetables are tender and cooked through.
Portion out little mounds of baby spinach into bowls, and ladle the boiling soup over. Leave to steep for a minute before mixing the spinach into the soup. You can also add cooked brown rice or pasta and shredded chicken into soup at this point if you like.
*Please feel free to substitute or add any vegetables you might prefer. I also like using cauliflower, cabbage, frozen peas/corn and broccoli. To take things up a notch, I sometimes stir in a dollop of pesto just before serving.