It’s almost summer, and today I made soup.
No, I’m not crazy!
This is not a normal soup.
This is going to become a phenomenal staple, a genial all-rounder in your kitchen!
Actually, I didn’t invent anything, as these kinds of cereals and legumes creamy soups are very popular in Central and Northern Italy.
As usual, if we go back to our roots and traditions, we can find lots of interesting recipes and ingredients that are gone forgotten and are much healthier and ecological than many trendy foods.
Here it’s all local; no veggie had to fly by plane, nothing has been refined or processed. The combo whole grains and legumes has amazing nutritional values, and it’s packed with high-quality proteins and fibers. It’s since always my ready-to-go protein source, I always make big batches and keep it in the fridge. In winter it becomes a phenomenal hot comfort food with some toasted bread, chili flakes, and possibly grated Parmigiano. In spring and summer, I add it cold or lukewarm to my Buddha-bowls or salads. And it’s not finished yet! As it’s so sticky, it can also be used to make delicious veggie burgers.
If you cook it during the weekend and store it in the fridge, you have an endless amount of possibilities for your dinners and lunch boxes.
So, how do I make it?
It’s a pretty normal procedure for a soup; the only particularity is the huge variety of whole beans and grains. When I lived in Italy, I often bought packages of already mixed beans and cereals so if you find them in your local grocery store go for it! Otherwise, you can simply make the mix by yourself, it works perfectly, and you can vary the proportions each time.
I do soak my cereals and beans in water for about 4 or 5 hours just to make them softer and shorten the cooking times. Then I rinse them well until the water comes out clean.
I cook some mixed veggies in extra virgin olive oil, then add the beans and the water.
At this point, it’s done! The magic minestrone will cook by itself.
There are two secrets for this dish:
1) let it simmer on very low heat (from the start: beans don’t like jumps in temperature) for about two hours
2) add the salt just at the end. Otherwise, they will become hard and take ages to cook
Serve it with some fresh extra virgin olive oil and the herbs you love. I used my dad’s precious Italian evoo, some parsley, rosemary, pepper, and chili flakes.
CREAMY & GENIAL CEREALS AND LEGUMES MINESTRONE SOUP
for 4 big or 6 regular portions
The dry mix
Two cups in total. Today I used:
- 1/4 cup of whole-grain barley*
- 1/4 cup of whole-grain spelt*
- 1 and 1/2 cups of mixed dry beans (I used borlotti, cannellini, azuki, black, black-eyed and kidney beans, peas, red and green lentils)
Mixed veggies for the base
- 1 large onion
- 1 big celery stalk
- 1 carrot
- 1 clove of garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups of water
- salt and pepper
- some more extra virgin olive oil
- rosemary, parsley, chili flakes and any other spice or herb you love
* You can, of course, use other kinds of beans (fava, chickpeas or whatever you like) and cereals (wheat, rye, kamut and so on). The soaking time may vary accordingly in some particular cases. For example, if you want to use chickpeas or rye that are notoriously quite hard, soak them overnight, then add them to the rest.
1. Soak the beans and cereals for about half-day. If your water is very hard, stir in a pinch of baking soda.
2. Heat about 6 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Finely chop the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and add them into the skillet. Stir for a few minutes until they start to soften.
3. Rinse all the beans & cereals and add them to the veggies in the skillet. Add also the 4 cups of water and reduce the heat to a minimum. Cover and let it simmer on very low heat for about 2 hours or until all the beans will be nice and soft.
4. Only when everything is nice and soft, add the salt and cook for 5 more minutes.
5. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, your favorite fresh herbs, and chili flakes or let it cool down completely and then store it in the fridge.