Meatless Monday: Kale-Quinoa Minestrone

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In most parts of the country, autumn is a transitional season where summer slowly transitions into winter. Leaves turn colors, fields are harvested and turned for the next season, and our sleeves get longer.

Here in Central New York, autumn lasts about three weeks. September gets progressively colder, so much so that you think it is October already. By the time Halloween hits, parents debate whether snowsuits are necessary underneath the costume for trick or treating.

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But fret not, weary autumnal Syracusan, we’re mere weeks away from the first of 150 inches of snow to fall. In September 1995, I sat in the backseat of a Honda Civic hatchback, en route to St. Bonaventure University after a weekend home. It snowed the entire way from my driveway in Liverpool to the doors of Shay-Loughlen Hall. People love Syracuse because you get to see all four seasons, sometimes even in the same week.

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It’s easy to beat on Syracuse because of the weather. I actually enjoy winter and dislike fall. The transition is lost on me. It’s wasted time between the heat index and windchill. I would just assume have autumn take a week and go right into snowfall. Eliminate all of the pumpkin spice pretext and head straight into a snowbank.

With the cold weather, we bring in more soups and this is one that really stands out. A little earlier in the fall and you might be able to find the end-of-the-season kale harvests at the farmer’s markets in your areas, as well as the carrots and onions that power this soup.

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WHAT WORKED: My favorite here was the smell of the mirepoix sauteing at the very beginning. The smell of the carrots, onion and celery fill the kitchen. Someone should make a candle out of that scent. Also, I made this soup a day in advance and refrigerated it. It allowed the veggies to absorb more of the tomato base and the flavors to mingle.

WHAT DIDN’T: The spice profile. Turmeric and hot pepper flakes didn’t really appeal to me. I spun it closer to the more traditional herbs found in minestrone using herbes de provence.

2014-11-04 at 18-41-54WHAT DID THE WIFE SAY: “This is really good. (Looking in the pan) We are going to have a ton of it left over.”

WILL IT MAKE ANOTHER APPEARANCE: This year? Yes, but as leftovers. We have three quarts in the freezer.

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Kale-Quinoa Minestrone
Adapted from MindBodyGreen

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 small or 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium to large red bell pepper, diced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups kale, chopped coarsely and stems removed
  • 1 to 2 tsp. herbes de provence

In a large soup or stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When it shimmers, add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the red pepper and zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water and stock*, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the quinoa, reduce heat to medium, and cook, covered, for 20 more minutes. Remove the lid and stir in the beans. Add the kale in bunches, stirring in, and return to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes.

Serve hot with grated parmesan cheese.

*: If you are making this soup in advance, reserve 2 of the 6 cups of stock. When reheating, add the stock, bring the soup to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook 20 minutes, covered. If you are serving this soup immediately, add all six cups of broth and increase the cooking time of the first simmer to 30 minutes.

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