The Comfort of Minestrone

Lately, I’ve been living without.  Without wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, sugar, processed foods, coffee, and chocolate, all in the name of the Whole Living Action Plan 28-Day Challenge.  I must say I’ve had some surprises.  Sure I’ve missed my daily-mid-afternoon pick-me-up (coffee).  And it’s been a large adjustment to forgo my daily lunch sandwich, or a nice chunk of bread with soup at dinner.

What I’ve missed most, however, has been sugar.  I am a sweet-eater at heart.  I generally enjoy some sort of dessert nearly every day.  My day just isn’t truly complete without it.  Blame it on my dad–who in the absence of sweets in the house, will begin to nip spoonfuls of plain-white-granulated from the sugar bowl.  I kid you not.  And while I will likely never resort to that level of sugar-deprivation-induced-behavior, I do most definitely love my sweets.

One thing this challenge has given me is some perspective and sense of accomplishment.  I know I don’t need these things I’ve been giving up.  I feel my metabolism has kicked up without them.  I realize the things I’ve given up are mere luxuries I’ve been indulging in every single day.  And while my meals this past week have been rather wholesome, they are challenging as well.  They require some thought and advance planning, and much recipe manipulating.  They equire me to forgo most restaurant meal items (or perhaps even all).

They’ve also given me an opportunity to simplify.  Because at the end of the day, when you remove most allergen-inducing ingredients from your diet, you are only left with the most simple, basic, nourishing meals. Like minestrone.  This minestrone was pure simplicity.  I started with dry white beans and cooked them until they were really soft.  A long simmer really helps the beans soak into all the other flavors.  The soup was delicious and was consumed with much approval.

Minestrone (adapted from Good Mood Food)
1 medium-sized zucchini, chopped into small chunks
2 cups diced tomatoes, canned
5 cups cooked great northern beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
3 oz. rice noodles
2 Tbs. olive oil
A pinch paprika
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, as needed
  • Begin with 1 1/2 cups dry white beans and cook until soft.  Set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic and onion until they become soft.
  • Stir in the celery, carrots, zucchini, and cook for about five minutes.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.
  • Add the rice noodles, paprika and beans.  Stir in and cover the pot.  Cook gently for 10 minutes or until rice noodles are cooked.
  • Season with salt and pepper.
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