No matter how busy our family schedule gets, I make it my mission to ensure that we eat as many home-cooked meals during the week as possible. As we move into cold and flu season, I’m also looking for ways to boost the children’s immunity and ward off seasonal viruses. Vitamin supplements and flu shots are fine, but I think one of the easiest and most practical solutions is eating homemade soup. Canned soup is quick and inexpensive, but it can be high in sodium and fat and quite modest in nutritional value. A steaming bowl of homemade soup, when you can control the sodium, fat, and nutritional value, is an ideal food for any healthy family eating plan.
While on a recent media tour of Williams-Sonoma on Bloor Street, we received a copy of Maria Helm Sinskey’s Williams-Sonoma Family Meals – Creating Traditions in the Kitchen cookbook. Always searching for new family-friendly recipes, I was excited to give it a try. Family Meals is full of delicious, easy-to-prepare recipes, and is organized by ingredients. Each chapter begins with a fun cooking project that teaches you and your children about ingredients, seasonal availability, and nutrition. Based on what I had in the crisper and the number of sick children in our school, I chose to make the Veggie Minestrone. This soup features a variety of seasonal, vitamin and nutrient-enriched vegetables. I was a little apprehensive about including the “green bits”, otherwise known as kale, but thought I should stick to the recipe the first time. Kale is low in saturated fat and a very good source of fibre and Vitamins A and C. Much to my surprise and delight both of my children devoured their first bowl and asked for a second. The leftovers got packed into their thermos’ for school the next day. With this soup, you can substitute with other favourite vegetables or throw in whatever is left in your crisper—a different soup every time. Create your own family-favourite version.
Serves 8 – 10
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (6 oz/185 g) diced fresh or canned tomatoes with their juice
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 large fresh sage leaves
- 2 cups (15 oz/425 g) drained canned or cooked cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
- 2 cups (6 0z/185 g) packed shredded kale or chard
- 1 cup (4 oz/125 g) tubettini or other small dried pasta shape
- Grated parmesan cheese for garnish
- Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 Tbsp oil and the garlic and sauté until the garlic is toasted and the oil is fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the carrot, onion, and celery and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and brown, 3-4 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the tomatoes, bay, sage, a 2-inch (5 cm) Parmesan cheese rind (optional), and enough water (or vegetable broth) to cover the vegetables by 2-inches (5 cm) and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Add the beans and kale and continue to simmer for 20–30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Just before the soup is ready, bring a saucepan ¾ full of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain well and divide among warmed soup bowls. Ladle the soup over the pasta, drizzle with oil, sprinkle generously with the grated cheese, and serve.
What is your favourite soup recipe?
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