This homemade minestrone is perfect for cool fall days.  

This homemade minestrone is perfect for cool fall days.  

For the past few weeks, I've been taking an online course from the Clean Eating Institute. I've been learning more about the tenants of clean eating as well as knife skills, how to work with herbs and spices, and different methods for slicing and dicing vegetables. Yesterday was the first day I tried out a hands-on recipe for the class. It was the ultimate fall weather recipe and my all-time favorite kind of soup: minestrone. While I worked on the soup, my husband made a loaf of from-scratch whole wheat bread with rosemary. For dessert, he made apple rosettes. All of the recipes were time-consuming in terms of their actual cook time, but the preparation was quite simple and straightforward. Having such a rustic, down-home Sunday felt good for the soul, as did completing a 100% clean, homemade meal. I couldn't have been happier with the way the soup turned out and I've already received several requests, so decided to share the minestrone recipe here today. 

Homemade whole wheat bread with rosemary made a perfect minestrone pairing.  

Homemade whole wheat bread with rosemary made a perfect minestrone pairing.  

Before I share the full recipe, here's the recipe for a delicious homemade vegetable stock. If you're pressed for time you could use a boxed version, but I find there's something ultimately rewarding about knowing all the exact ingredients of your food. Also as a note this recipe says it makes 4 cups and the minestrone calls for 6 cups of vegetable stock. I just used the 4 cups and thought it turned out fine. If you want a more voluminous soup, you could make this recipe X 1.5 for the perfect amount. Also note that even if you're only making the 4 cups, you'll need a LARGE pot -- enough to fit 8 cups of water.

CLEAN EATING INSTITUTE VEGETABLE STOCK
SOURCE: CLEAN EATING INSTITUTE
MAKES 4 CUPS
HANDS-ON TIME: 30 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 30 MINUTES

INGREDIENTS:
1 t high-heat cooking oil like avocado (I used olive -- it worked fine)
2 c medium-diced yellow onion
1 c paysanne-chopped celery
1 c paysanne-chopped carrots
5 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered

BOUQUET GARNI (see below):
4 sprigs fresh parsley stems
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 t black peppercorns

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) Prepare bouquet garni: Place all bouquet garni ingredients in 5-inch-square piece of cheesecloth. Gently crush the ingredients in the cheesecloth with the bottom of a knife handle. (Note: We watched a video about this for the class. If this part sounds confusing, I recommend looking for a tutorial on youtube. It sounds more confusing than it is.)

2.) In a stockpot on medium, heat oil. Add onions and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sweat until fragrant, about 1 minute.

3.) Add tomatoes and bouquet garni. Add 8 cups cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until fragrant and liquid has reduced, about 1 hour.

4.) Strain through fine mesh cloth or a fine mesh sieve. (You're only keeping the liquid part and ditching the mushy veggie remnants.)

Homemade vegetable stock

Homemade vegetable stock

CLEAN EATING INSTITUTE MINESTRONE VEGETABLE SOUP
SOURCE: CLEAN EATING INSTITUTE
SERVES 8
HANDS-ON TIME: 35 MINUTES
TOTAL TIME: 1 HOUR, 35 MINUTES

NOTE: If you use dried beans instead of canned, you don't have to worry about BPA or other chemicals from the can. Just remember to soak the beans overnight. Dried beans have instructions for this on their packages or you can look it up online.

INGREDIENTS:
1 t olive oil
1 yellow onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, roasted then chopped (I didn't roast mine first and it was fine)
2 bay leaves
1 c peeled and small-diced sweet potato
1 c small-diced carrot
1 c small-diced parsnip
1/2 c small-diced celery
2 c kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 c small-diced tomatoes
6 c vegetable or chicken stock (homemade or boxed low-sodium)
1 small zucchini, small-diced
1/4 c fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 T balsamic vinegar (I straight-up forgot to add this and it still tasted fine.)
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste (I didn't use any salt and thought it was flavorful enough without it. My husband used a few dashes.)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1.) In a stockpot on medium, heat oil. Add onion and saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaves and cook for 1 minute, stirring.

2.) Add sweet potato, carrot, parsnip and celery. Continue to cook for 5 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp. Add beans and tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.

3.) Add stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 50 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.) Add parsley and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaves before serving.
 

The delicious finished product

The delicious finished product

 

Homemade apple rosettes for dessert

Homemade apple rosettes for dessert

I Do! Me Too! 

I Do! Me Too! 

Leftovers for lunch today

Leftovers for lunch today

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