Wednesday, January 6, 2010

  • Minestrone-The Ultimate Weight-Loss Meal

The beginning of another year and yet again we’re bombarded with ads telling us to lose weight and exercise; all good things yes, but not if you give in the diet propaganda: Pills, Jenny Craig, Nutri System, Slim-Fast, along with all of the self-proclaiming weight loss gurus claiming to have found the secret to weight loss, will only exacerbate your weight in the long run. It starts with real, proper food! If you’re eating something that wasn’t around 100 years ago, get rid of it!
I too like to detoxify after the holidays (too much pasta and good wine) and I do so with minestrone. This Italian, peasant soup is a perfect example of eating real, proper food, and in keeping with my mantra of eating in the same way your great grandparents would have eaten.


Like most staples of “cucina povera” there is no real recipe to making minestrone, you simply use whatever vegetables you have on hand. (If your refrigerator is void of any vegetables, you might want to make that one of your New Year’s resolutions.) I’ve provided some instructions under each photo.

Fig.1. Meat is optional, but adds depth to the broth. This hunk-a-hunk of meaty goodness is a beef osso-bucco, a blade cut or beef ribs works just as well. I Sear the meat in olive oil in the same pot I make the soup in; once the meat has browned on both side, put it aside.

Fig.2. Onions, garlic, cabbage, potato, celery, carrots, a can of chick peas and a large can of plum tomatoes which I purchased at Costco--if you can't find a large can, use three regular 28 ounce cans instead.

Fig.3. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the pot you seared the meat in, begin with a soffritto--add the chopped onion, carrots and celery and cook over medium high heat for about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the diced potato, cabbage, and chick peas (if using canned, rinse them first) and any other vegetables you wish to add and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, stirring all the while. Add your garlic (I like to press mine through a garlic press for this soup, but you can add them chopped or even whole--your choice.) cook and stir for about 2 minutes. Add your tomatoes, (when using whole plum tomatoes, it's a good idea to break them apart--go ahead and use your fingers, become one with your food!) and equal parts water. (1 can of tomatoes=1 can of water) I then add the seared meat, one tablespoon of sugar to counteract the acidity of the tomatoes, three bay leaves, some fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
Let your soup come to a gentle simmer, and cook for about two hours with your lid partially covering the pot--skim off any tomato scum which floats to the surface of your soup, failure to do this will result in a slightly acrid taste.
There is no right way to make this soup--whatever vegetables you decide to use, just remember that the liquid should cover the vegetables by at least three inches minimum. Let your soup cool slightly, cover pot with plastic wrap, and place pot in the fridge overnight--as with most soups and stews, it's better the next day. Oh, and don't forget to break up your meat and throw it back in the soup.

Fig.4. The next day, fill your containers and freeze. Bring them to work, pop them in the microwave, and avoid all other temptations.

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