[MUSIC PLAYING] ERIN HARNER: Hi. My name is Erin Harner. I'm a registered dietitian nutritionist with Cornell Wellness. Today I'll be cooking a minestrone soup with quinoa and kale.
So to start I'm going to turn on the burner and get this heating up a little bit. About medium high is good for the minestrone soup. First thing I'm going to do is take my onion and just chop it up. Going to cut off the ends. If anyone has issues with onions burning your eyes, it's likely a very fresh onion. And there's a few things you can do to make that so it doesn't bother you so much. One of which is put them in the freezer for a couple of minutes before you cut them.
And there's about 1,000 different ways to chop an onion. This is just one of them. Essentially what we want to do for our minestrone soup is make them all bit-sized pieces. All right. Got a little compost bin over here I'll put them in.
OK. So once our pan starts to get hot I'll add some oil. I'm going to use olive oil, and this is a refined olive oil. I'm going to use it in pretty high heat, because I'm sauteing with it, so I'd rather not use extra virgin. So I'll do about two tablespoons. You can use more or less. If you're trying to reduce your intake of vegetable oils, less it is great. You can also saute with a little bit of water as well.
I'm just going to put in the onions and let them saute away for a few minutes. So this will sweeten them up and caramelize them.
So you can see that my cutting board moved a little bit. I have a wet towel underneath. So if you've ever wondered how to keep your cutting board from slipping while you're cutting, the wet towel underneath keeps it from slipping really nicely.
All right, next I'm going to take my onion-- or my garlic, excuse me. So I'm going to take a head garlic and just peel off three cloves. To take the skin off the cloves I'm just going to hit it with the side of my knife. Be very careful. Watch your fingers. But what that does is it pulls off the skins for me so they're really easy to peel. You can also get pre-cut or pre-roasted or pre-peeled garlic cloves. You can also buy minced garlic in a jar. Whatever works best for you. But the key is the health benefits from fresh garlic are numerous. They also impart a really nice flavor to the dish.
So while I'm peeling the garlic, I want to just talk a little bit about what makes a dish plant based, or what makes a plant based diet. So there's some components of the plant based diet that are a little bit confusing. So when we say plant based, clearly we mean you're eating plants. That excludes all animal foods or anything that comes from an animal. So it excludes dairy. It excludes meat. It excludes eggs. We'll talk a little bit later-- it could potentially also exclude honey. So anything that's made from an animal or produced by an animal, the plant based diet would exclude.
Now there's varying levels of plant based. There's anything from a pescatarian, which is someone who eats fish, to someone who is a lacto ovo vegetarian, which is someone who doesn't eat any meat products but would consume eggs and dairy. All the way down to someone who is a vegan who doesn't consume any animal products at all. So there's lots of different pieces of the plant based diet. But the biggest thing to remember is the more vegetables and the more fruits we can eat, the better. So the more plants you can get in your diet, the better. And it also has a tendency to push out the meat and the dairy and the eggs. So wherever you want to fall on that spectrum is fine, but the key to remember here is plant based we're typically talking about a vegan diet.
You may have heard of meatless Mondays or weekday veg. Those are some other ways that people can cut out meat or dairy products from their diet for part of the week or part of the time, which also has a big impact.
I'm going to turn up the heat just a little bit and let this saute. OK.
I'm going to take the carrots. So these are local organic carrots. I'm actually not going to peel them. There's a fair amount of nutrition in the peel, so I'm going to leave it on. So I'm just going to take the carrots. And again, minestrone is-- minestrone or ministrone, however you want to say it. I spent a good part of my childhood in the UK, where they call it minestrone. So that's what I remember. So I'm just going to chop them into essentially bit-sized pieces. There's no need to be precise in your chopping here. As long as they're about the same size they're going to cook pretty quickly.
You can see I'm turning my fingers under, and just going right down the carrots to chop them all in small pieces.
This knife is also extremely sharp, which helps. So if you have trouble with vegetables or chopping a lot of veggies, sharpening your knives or having nice sharp knives that keep a blade really helps a lot. So there's carrots. Turn this up just a little bit.
Moving on to the celery. And I've washed these all ahead of time. The leaves actually have a really nice flavor, so I'm going to leave some of the celery leaves on. Celery is also going to add a little bit of sodium, so we don't need to add as much salt at the end. Go right down the celery, watching my fingers. And just push that aside until we're ready to use it. OK.
While that's going I'm going to move on to the zucchini. This zucchini is looking a little bit sad. Being March it's not really zucchini season, so if you'd rather not use zucchini and use something else that's totally fine. So you could use kohlrabi or turnips or rutabagas or potatoes or whatever you want. The classic use of minestrone soup is to empty the refrigerator drawer of whatever is left. So feel free to start with the recipe or start with your own, and feel free to add whatever you want into it. It's not specific. Just the seasonings and the ratio of liquids to other things is what matters. But you can always thin it or make it thicker, depending on how you like to eat it. It's a very loose recipe to make your own.
But as you'll notice here, we're using a lot of vegetables. So it's a great way to get a lot of vegetables and plant foods into your diet. Soups like this minestrone soup are also great for lunches. You can bring them to work, heat them up at work, and enjoy them. And get a lot of veggies at lunch, that might otherwise be something more grain based.
So these are doing pretty well.
I'm actually going to separate these. So the celery and the carrots take a little bit longer to cook than the zucchini does, so I'm going to push these in first. I'm going to use the back of my knife so I don't dull my blade. And just push them right into the pan.
So as you can see, this recipe does take a while. The total time on this recipe is 60 minutes, but it's not all active time. You prep the vegetables in the beginning and then you kind of let it do its thing.
Next thing I'm going to move on to is my bell pepper. You can use whatever color you would like. I added yellow because it adds another color to the dish. Eating a variety of different colors of foods is really important, as well. Not just lots of vegetables and fruits, but also lots of different colors. So really eating the rainbow is really important to make sure that you're getting all of the benefits of the phytonutrients in those foods.
So phytonutrients are not vitamins and minerals. They are other compounds that are found in foods. Things like anthocyanins, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, lutein, beta carotene. These are all phytonutrients. So they come from the color of the food. So bell peppers are extremely high in phytonutrients, and the yellow bell pepper is going to add another color to our dish. So we've got green and orange and red from the tomatoes, green from the green beans. So there's our bell pepper.
And as far as the green beans go, you could use frozen green beans. You can use pre-cut green beans. Whatever you want to do. These are fresh and I just chopped them ahead to save a little bit of time. All right.
Lower the heat just a little bit. Going to add the next three ingredients. So I'm going to add the two cups of green beans, the zucchini that we cut up, and also the bell peppers. And for any of these things-- if you'd would prefer to use frozen vegetables, that's fine, too. Use whatever is in season or whatever you have.
Next thing I'm going to do is add some spices and some herbs, and some crushed tomatoes. So I'm going to pour in a can of crushed tomatoes. And these don't have any seasonings in them, but if you got a can of crushed tomatoes that did that would be fine, too. So we've got some fresh tomatoes. We've got some vegetable broth. You could also just use water if you wanted, and add a little bit more seasonings or a little bit more salt and pepper at the end. I prefer using vegetable stock, because it gives a really nice little bit more deep flavor to the dish. And it also-- this does have salt in it so it will prevent us from using more salt later.
So just keep in mind, if you are using broth-- you could also use chicken broth if you wanted to. It certainly wouldn't be vegan in that case or plant based, but you could if you would like.
So just remember if you are using broth that it does have salt in it, so you want to use less salt later. So there's the broth.
And I'm also going to add some herbs. So we're going to start with some thyme. And some parsley. A couple of tablespoons of parsley. You could also use fresh parsley is really nice. Some black pepper. And some dried rosemary. So the rosemary is-- it's like a twig. So you really want to grind it. You could use a coffee grinder to grind it, if it doesn't have a coffee flavor you don't mind. You could also use a mortar and pestle if you have one. You could use a small blender. You could use a food processor. You could chop it up with a knife. However, you want to do it. You could also use it whole. I just prefer the flavor and the texture if it is ground. So I'm just going to use the mortar and pestle and kind of grind it up like that. And add it to the dish.
Give the whole thing a stir. And I'm just going to let this simmer for about 15 minutes. I'm going to set my timer to keep me on track since I'm doing too many things at once.
It's not even simmering.
AUDIENCE: Do you put a lid on it?
ERIN HARNER: Yeah. I think I will just add the quinoa and let it go. That's a great suggestion.
I'm going to add some quinoa. So quinoa is an ancient grain from the Incas actually. It dates back to the Incas. So when they went to war they ate "war balls", which were a combination of quinoa and fat. And that's all they were. And they supposedly ran for days just eating those things.
So I'm going to wash the quinoa underneath water until it runs clear. As you can see, it's full of saponines. So they're soapy substances. So it'll look like there's soap on the quinoa. If you don't rinse it well, what's going to happen is it's going to be really soapy and bitter tasting. So if you've had quinoa before, you tried to make it and you really didn't like the flavor or you thought it was too bitter, it's likely because there was still saponine on it. And some quinoa is pre-rinsed some is not. It's pretty hard to tell whether it's been rinsed or not, so I always rinse it just in case.
So traditionally, minestrone soup has been made with pasta. And you could use pasta if you wanted to. You could use gluten free pasta, you could use regular pasta. In this case, I'm going to use quinoa. It's going to thicken it up a bit, and it's going to add a lot of protein, a lot of fiber, and a lot of just powerhouse of nutrition. Just give that a quick stir, and put the lid on and let that simmer.
So these essentially just need to heat up. So I'm going to add those.
AUDIENCE: Are those just kale leaves without the stocks?
ERIN HARNER: Yes.
AUDIENCE: Do you remove the rib?
ERIN HARNER: So they do have some ribs. These were pre-prepared kale leaves. They do have some ribs. You can eat the small ribs just fine. Oftentimes if I was getting-- when I went shopping, Wegmans had no kale. There seems to be a run on kale lately. They had no full size kale. So normally I would strip them from the stock, but these were pre-prepared, pre-washed, pre-cut kale leaves, which makes it really easy to make salads and things out of kale.
But I'm going to let these simmer for just a minute. The quinoa is done cooking. You know the quinoa is done cooking when you can see the little tails come off. You'll know that it's done.
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Erin Harner, RDN, makes a vegan, gluten-free minestrone with kale and quinoa.