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Magnificent Minestrone

30 Jan

IMG_3989Jim and I met many years ago when I had just graduated from nursing school and he was a fourth year resident.  When we both started getting paychecks and had a few extra dollars, we used to go to Lelli’s Restaurant in downtown Detroit for special occasions.  Their minestrone soup was the best we’d ever had….chunky and creamy and so delicious! (The picture above was taken day 2 and when it was cold, so it looks more like a stew.  It tastes so much better than this picture looks.  Photography is still not my forte!)

When my sister-in-law made minestrone soup for a family occasion, it was equally delicious, so of course I asked for the recipe. Would you believe that the recipe was for the famous “Lelli’s Minestrone Soup”?  Thank you universe!

I’ve made this soup a number of times now and it has become a much loved regular in our home, (meaning at least 2 bowls each, and for my husband, maybe three……and that’s just the first night). It’s great because the needed ingredients are staples. I usually always have carrots, celery, onions, potatoes and crushed canned tomatoes and beans.  So no extra shopping necessary!

I’ve made some changes….the original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons butter…I use just one teaspoon of olive oil and to be honest, you could get away with using none at all.  The original recipe calls for chicken broth, so I subbed in the Better Than Bouillon brand no chicken broth base.  This is my favorite brand of broth.  It comes in vegetable and mushroom flavors also. The original recipe also called for parmesan cheese and skim milk.  I’ve completed eliminated the milk, as the soup gets creamy with the blending of the beans, potatoes and broth.  Instead of the dairy parmesan, I’ve sprinkled the top of my serving with Go Veggie dairy free parmesan. Leave it out and let people add it if they wish.

I’ve made this recipe with different amounts of carrots, celery, and potatoes as well as varying amounts and types of herbs.  I think the combination I put together last night was the best so far!

Minestrone Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/3 cup broth

3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)

3 carrots, chopped

3 medium yukon potatoes, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil

4 cups No Chicken bouillon

1 14 ounce can cannelini beans, with juice

1 14 ounce garbanzo beans, with juice

3/4-1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped

2 tsp fresh thyme

1 teaspoon basil (can use fresh, to taste)

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or to taste)

1/3-1/2 cup small whole wheat macaroni-elbow, etc.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes and celery in broth and oil until softened.  Add tomatoes, rest of broth, beans, herbs and spinach.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Blend some of the soup into creaminess using an immersion  blender.  Alternatively, take out 1/2 of the mixture and blend in a standing blender and return to the pot.  Add pasta and bring back to a boil and simmer until pasta is tender.  Flavors continue to improve as they meld together.


Engine 2 Diet: Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna

2 Oct

This is my first post for Vegan MoFo 2012 and this Sweet Potato Lasagna recipe from the Engine 2 Diet is a winner! Check out their website for a wealth of information and support as you lean into making more healthy plant-based food.

I’ve decided to challenge myself to make a conscious effort to cook without added oil.  I know I have a story that food won’t taste as good without a little added fat for flavor but I want to be convinced!  The Engine 2 Diet Cookbook and website is just one of many resources that I’ll use to support my  intentions to eat well.

The photo above does not do this lasagna justice.  Not only is this absolutely delicious and completely without added oil, it’s filled with phytonutrient packing, fiber fabulous veggies!  I made a few changes to the original, using fresh spinach instead of frozen.  Next time, I will leave out the corn, also.  I love corn but not in my lasagna!


1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 head broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 (15 ounce) cans corn, rinsed and drained (I would omit this next time)
1 (12 ounce) packages tofu
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 (25 ounce) jars vegan pasta sauce
2 (14 ounce) boxes whole grain lasagna noodles
16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I used fresh spinach)
2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin

1 cup raw cashews, ground


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Sauté the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Sauté the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Sauté the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl.
Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.
To Assemble:
Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashed sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover the lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes.
Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashews, and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Luscious Lasagna from VegNews

28 Oct

I love getting VegNews.  I am in general, surrounded  by mostly omnivores.  When I flip through my VegNews Magazine, being vegan feels like the new “normal”.  In these pages, I am treated to a global community of like-minded individuals sharing their resources, recipes, wisdom and compassion.  I feel so much less alone in my vegan living and very supported.  So I send a heartfelt Thank You! to VegNews for making my world a better place!

The new issue (Nov./Dec.) has a recipe for this Luscious Lasagna in the VeganizeIt column by Allison Rivers Samson.  I was looking for something like this to take to a friend who has just moved into a new home.  This is her special housewarming gift, along with a delicious salad, some Zingerman’s Paesano Bread, Coconut Bliss and double chocolate cookies for dessert.  She’s not vegan so I feel like I’m doing my little part by sharing with nonvegans how good vegan food can be!