I eat hot soup in Malaysia year round. I didn’t think I would when I first moved to the tropics– at first, the constant heat made me crave a lot of cold fruit and salads. As time went on, I went back to my pot-of-soup-a-week routine. Soup, especially this Summer Minestrone Soup, is a great one pot meal, and so easy to make in large portions for leftovers. A pot of soup will make it 4-5 days around here, and I never tire of this one.
When we eat soup, 15 minutes before dinner, we close the doors and turn on the air conditioner. Maybe throw on the ceiling fan. Otherwise, we sweat while we are eating it, especially if it’s a spicy soup like this one. But- totally worth it!
In fact, I learned after moving here, cultures around the world in tropical climates tend to eat really spicy cuisine. This isn’t as counter intuitive as it sounds. The idea is that the spice makes you sweat—> your body’s natural way of cooling itself down. Hmm. I think I’d rather sit under the air conditioner than sweat into my soup.
Minestrone is always a favorite of mine when I go out for italian. It’s a light option, usually full of great vegetables, and free of cream. Perfect. Summer. Food. Hot or not.
I use quite a bit of cayenne. Tone it down a bit if you must! But cayenne is a great metabolism booster, besides just tasting awesome.
To make this gluten free, I used Trader Joe’s brown rice fusilli. Equally good would be the Ancient Harvest quinoa pasta I used for the Shrimp Pasta Primavera. If you’d prefer not to use pasta, try potatoes, or a whole grain, like brown rice or quinoa.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 cups celery, sliced thin
- 2 medium onions, minced
- ⅓ cup fresh garlic, minced
- 10 cups water (or substitute good quality vegetable broth)
- 3 vegetable bouillon cubes (I use Rapunzel)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- 3 carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 cups fresh green beans, cut into short pieces
- 2 cups zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 3 cups kidney beans (prepared fresh, or equivalent to 2-15 ounce cans)
- ¾ cup tomato paste (or about 1-5.5 ounce can)
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (1/2 for a spicy broth)
- brown rice fusilli (several servings, boiled until it is almost, but not quite, done)
- 1 cup basil, packed and shredded finely
- parmesan cheese (garnish, optional)
- Add olive oil to a large soup pot, and then sauté the minced onions and garlic and sliced celery on medium-high heat, until all are soft and translucent, and just beginning to brown, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes, either water and bouillon or vegetable broth, and the spices through cumin.
- Bring to a boil, then let simmer on medium-low for an hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare several portions of pasta. Stop cooking it when it is almost done, but still very firm. It will continue to cook once you put it in the soup. Set aside until ready to serve the soup.
- Add the peeled and diced carrots, and let simmer for another 10 minutes or so, until the carrots are soft.
- Meanwhile, add the tomato paste and cayenne. Start small with the cayenne, and add more to taste. I love it pretty spicy and find that ½ teaspoon is a good amount without making it too spicy.
- After the carrots have softened, add the kidney beans, green beans and zucchini. I like the green vegetables to still be crispy, which is why I add them just a few minutes before I turn the soup off.
- After turning the soup off, add the basil. I also like to reserve some to use as a garnish. Basil quickly loses it's flavor if it's cooked.
- Add pasta to individual bowls of soup, then garnish with reserved basil and parmesan cheese.
The pasta isn't necessary. Sometimes I use a different grain, like rice or quinoa, and add a bit cooked to bowls instead of pasta. If I've added potatoes, I don't use pasta or a grain.
What are your favorite summer meals?