For those who are not familiar with minestrone, it’s a thick Italian soup cooked with young vegetables.1 One healthy way of cooking minestrone is by adding spinach, which is a very good source of vitamins and minerals that can boost your health. It is enriched with flavonoids that prevent cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radicals.
Garnishing minestrone with basil leaves is also a good way to perk up your meal. Its sweet and earthy aroma will surely boost your appetite. Basil is loaded with an impressive array of nutrients that can help keep you from catching any ailments.
If you are a big fan of these two health gems, this delicious minestrone soup recipe will suit you well.
Did You Know?
- Spinach is enriched with folate that helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Basil contains iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting.
- Minestrone is a thick soup that is best cooked with locally grown vegetables as it is loaded with nutrients and vitamins.
- Spinach has antioxidant properties that can help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 medium zucchini, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can cannellini beans (or other white bean)
- 1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 cups organic free-range chicken broth
- ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 10 ounces spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped, or chard
- ½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil (or parsley)
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the oil then add onions, celery, garlic, zucchini, and the bay leaf into the pot Sauté for 2 minutes, Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for 3-5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Next add the white beans, garbanzo beans, and chicken broth to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Add green beans and cook for 8 minutes, (until just tender). Stir in spinach to wilt, about 1 minute. Stir in cheese if desired and serve in soup bowls. Top each serving with basil (or parsley).
(Adapted from Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type)
Spinach-Basil Green Minestrone Cooking Tips
Minestrone soup is best cooked using locally grown, organic vegetables, as these are loaded with nutrients and vitamins, and are not contaminated with pesticides and fertilizers.
You’re lucky if you grow your own fresh spinach or basil in your backyard or garden, because healthy living is just within your reach. When harvesting spinach, pick the green, fresh-smelling outer leaves. The remaining leaves will keep the plant growing, and maintain a season of harvest. Avoid using spinach leaves that are water-soaked, wilted, or have yellow patches.2
Wash spinach carefully, pat it dry, and store it in the refrigerator. Aside from mixing it in soups, I recommend serving spinach fresh or steaming it lightly.3
Smaller basil leaves contain the most flavors, so you have to be particular in picking the ones you use. Harvested basil leaves can be preserved by placing it in a water-filled glass, but do not refrigerate it.4
You can also dry basil leaves. Simply heat your oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare the basil leaves on baking sheet. Turn off the oven and place it in the pan for 20 minutes. Let the leaves cool, and store it quickly in a tight lipped bottle or Ziplock bags. Store it away from sunlight.
|Spinach-Basil Green Minestrone Nutrition Facts
Why Is Spinach-Basil Green Minestrone Good for You?
Meals packed with essential nutrients that can give your family immunity and energy are the best foods to serve every day. But it’s even better if you will grow your vegetables and herbs within your home – fresh and organic.
Spinach consists of numerous immunity boosters such as niacin, zinc, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. It is also high in protein and fiber, and is rich in folate that helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
The magnesium in spinach is responsible for keeping high blood pressure at bay. Studies have proven that this green leafy vegetable greatly helps sustain good brain function, memory, and mental lucidity.
Spinach also has flavonoids and carotenoids. Flavonoids have proven to be essential in lowering the risk of developing cancer, and studies have shown that flavonoids slow down the cell division of the cancer cells in the stomach.
Spinach has also shown its potential to lower the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Studies have also shown that intake of vitamin A-enriched vegetables like spinach can decrease your risk of breast cancer.5
Spinach has antioxidant properties that help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that benefit your eyes’ retina and macula. Studies have proven that the intake of spinach can also increase the blood levels of lutein.
Spinach is loaded with vitamin K1, which is an essential nutrient to keep our bones healthy. It prevents the further generation of osteoclasts, which breaks the bone down. Instead, it stimulates ostecalcin that maintains the calcium molecules inside the bone.6
Together with its sweet and earthy aroma and long list of nutrients, basil is a staple ingredient to various meals. This healthy herb contains iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, and potassium. It has vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting.
The vitamin A in basil consists of beta-carotenes that act as protection of the cell lining and blood vessels against free radical damage. This essential vitamin also prevents the oxidation of cholesterol in the blood to avoid atherosclerosis, heart attack, and stroke.
Basil is packed with volatile oils such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene, which is important in fighting off different kinds of bacteria like listeria, staphylococcus, E. coli, yersinia enterocolitica, and pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Studies show that high amount of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) can be an important factor in curing arthritis and inflammatory bowel ailments.7 When preparing your meals, do not forget to include these two leafy ingredients, which can improve your overall health without sacrificing the flavor of your food.
Sources and References
Tags: Crock Pot or Slow Cooker, Fruits and Vegetables, Soups