Vegetarian Minestrone with Fennel

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This healthy and hearty vegetarian soup is perfect for any winter meal.

Fennel is not a typical addition to minestrone, but it’s available in the winter and lends an interesting flavor here. My garden is buried under many inches of snow right now, but if I had homegrown fennel, carrots, onion, potatoes, or greens, I would most certainly use those.

I finished this off with nutritious raw watercress and parsley, and like how the assertive flavors of the greens are muted in the very hot soup. It’s easy enough to leave them out if serving children or others who might not be a fan, though. You can also feel free to use any other greens – like shredded kale, collards or spinach – and add them to the soup towards the end of the cooking time.

If you are not vegetarian, you could add some chopped all-natural bacon or pancetta when you add the onion and swap in chicken stock for the vegetable stock. To make this into a one-pot family friendly meal, you can add a package of cheese tortellini to the soup during the last few minutes of cooking. If you want to keep it gluten-free but like the idea of adding noodles, rice pasta would also work well.

 

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Recipe for Minestrone with Fennel

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, peeled and chopped
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade, plus 1-2 cups more, if needed (or use chicken stock or water)
  • one 15 oz. can of cooked chickpeas, drained
  • one 28 oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice
  • chunk of Parmesan cheese rind, if you have it – optional
  • sea salt, if necessary
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch watercress, cleaned well and chopped fine, mixed with 1 cup of minced parsley, or use several cups of another type of greens, like kale
  • grated parmesan cheese for garnish- optional

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until they start to soften and brown a bit.
  2. Add the chopped carrot, potato and fennel and stir around for a minute or two.
  3. Add the stock, the chickpeas, and then the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon as you go. Add the Parmesan rind. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, add 1-2 cups more liquid if necessary, and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender. Allow to cool a bit and taste the broth. Add salt, if needed, and pepper.
  4. Take a handful of the greens and place in serving bowl. Pour the hot soup over the greens and garnish with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

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–Winnie Abramson writes the organic gardening and food blog Healthy Green Kitchen.

Photo Credits: Winnie Abramson

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