Root vegetables are strong and sturdy and, when eaten, naturally ground us. Sweet varieties, like carrots, can also help curb sugar cravings as they satiate our bodies’ need for sweetness. Combined with a generous helping of cabbage and plant-based protein, this mighty minestrone is a nutritional powerhouse that will warm you up after a stressful day at work—or shoveling snow.
I like to pair this soup with a simple arugula salad and piece of crusty whole-grain bread. The recipe makes quite a large batch, so enjoy leftovers for lunch, or store in the freezer in an airtight container for later in the week or even next month!
Root Vegetable Minestrone
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking by Janeth Johnson Nix
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
8 cups chopped root vegetables (such as carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and turnips), cut into bite-size pieces
8 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cooked red kidney beans
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 cups shredded cabbage
Freshly ground pepper
- Heat oil in a stockpot. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the root vegetables and a pinch of salt. Sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the stock, beans, and herbs, and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes (or until all the vegetables are tender).
- Toss in the cabbage and cook until wilted, about 5 more minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Kale & White Bean Minestrone. Replace the cabbage and red beans with chopped kale and white beans.
- Minestrone Soup with Elbow Noodles. Decrease the root vegetables to 6 cups. Stir in the tomato paste, along with 1/2 cup whole wheat or gluten-free elbow noodles. Proceed as advised.
- Mixed Bean Minestrone. Replace 2 cups red kidney beans with 1 cup red kidney beans, 1/2 cup white beans, and 1/2 cup chickpeas.
The sodium content of the stock you use will inform how much salt you need to add at the end to create the right balance. If you use a rich, seasoned stock, you might not need to finish the soup with salt. If you use a low-sodium stock, you will probably need at least a few pinches to activate the flavors. Always taste first, and then add salt as desired.
Dark leafy greens, such as cabbage, are full of essential vitamins and minerals that are credited with boosting the immune system and protecting us from common colds. Greens also contain chlorophyll, which can brighten our mood and enhance our energy during the dark winter months.
This recipe is easily adaptable to fit any season! Substitute leeks for the onion in spring. Replace some of the heavy root vegetables with lighter veggies, like zucchini and yellow squash, in summer. And opt for butternut squash and leafy greens, such as escarole and chard, in fall.