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.2
Garnishing minestrone with basil leaves is also a good way to perk up your meal. Its sweet and earthy aroma not only will boost your appetite, but also will load you up with an impressive array of nutrients to help boost your health. If you are a big fan of these two health gems, this delicious minestrone soup recipe will suit you well.
Did You Know?
- Minestrone is a thick soup that is best cooked with locally grown vegetables as it is loaded with nutrients and vitamins
- Spinach is enriched with folate that helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. It has antioxidant properties that may help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure
- Basil contains iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting
Spinach-Basil Green Minestrone Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 stalks celery with leaves, chopped
- 2 cloves 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 chicken broth
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 10 ounces spinach or chard, stems removed and coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or parsley)
- Heat a large pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut oil then add onions, celery, garlic, zucchini and the bay leaf into the pot. Sauté for two minutes, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté for three to five more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the white beans, garbanzo beans and chicken broth to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Add green beans and cook for eight minutes, until just tender. Stir in spinach to wilt, about one 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 — they’re very versatile crops that you can use for many dishes. When harvesting spinach, pick those with 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.3 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.4
As for basil, make sure to look for leaves that are crisp and vibrant, but have no signs of decay. Harvested basil leaves can be rinsed and wrapped in a damp paper towel, and then stored in the fridge. It will keep for up to one week.5
You can also dry basil leaves. Simply set your oven to the lowest possible setting and pop in a cookie sheet with basil on it in a single layer. Watch until the basil has completely dried. Let the leaves cool. The green color may fade, but the flavor will still be intact. Store the dried leaves in a tightly sealed container and store it away from sunlight.6
|Spinach-Basil Green Minestrone Nutrition Facts
|47 to 48 grams
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 grow your vegetables and herbs at 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.7 It also has protein and fiber, and is rich in folate8 that helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.9 The magnesium in spinach is responsible for keeping high blood pressure at bay.10 Studies have proven that this green leafy vegetable greatly helps sustain good brain function, memory and mental lucidity.11
Spinach also has flavonoids and carotenoids.12 Flavonoids have proven to be essential in helping reduce the risk of developing cancer, and studies have shown that flavonoids help slow down the cell division of cancer cells in the stomach.13 Spinach has also shown its potential to help lower the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.14 Studies have also shown that intake of vitamin A-enriched vegetables like spinach may decrease your risk of breast cancer.15
Spinach has antioxidant properties that help decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that may benefit your eyes’ retina and macula. Studies have proven that the intake of spinach can also increase the blood levels of lutein.16 Spinach is loaded with vitamin K1, which is an essential nutrient to keep your bones healthy.17 It helps inhibit the further generation of osteoclasts, which breaks the bone down. Instead, it stimulates ostecalcin that maintains the calcium molecules inside the bone.18
Basil, with its sweet and earthy aroma and long list of nutrients, is a staple ingredient to various meals. This healthy herb contains iron, calcium, manganese, vitamin C and potassium. It has vitamin K,19 which is important for blood clotting.20 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.21
According to the George Mateljan Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose goals are to offer the latest scientific information on foods and their nutrients, basil is packed with volatile oils such as estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene and limonene, which are important in fighting off different kinds of bacteria like listeria, staphylococcus, E. coli, yersinia enterocolitica and pseudomonas aeruginosa.22 Studies show that high amount of (E)-beta-caryophyllene (BCP) may be important in easing arthritis and inflammatory bowel ailments.23
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.
A Note on Lectins in This Recipe
Beans are a mainstay ingredient of minestrone soup, but you need to be aware that they contain lectins. These are plant proteins that may expose you to health problems like inflammation, weight gain and autoimmune reactions. So, if you are struggling with an inflammatory or autoimmune condition, you may be among those who need to be careful with respect to lectin-containing foods. To limit the lectins in the cannellini or garbanzo beans, I suggest doing these steps before preparing this recipe:
- Soak the beans in water for at least 12 hours before cooking. Change the water frequently. You can also add baking soda to the water to further neutralize the lectins.24
- Drain the beans and throw away the soaking water. Rinse the beans.
- Cook for at least 15 minutes on high heat or in a pressure cooker.
For more information on this topic, read my article, “Limit the Lectins
+ Sources and References