Thursday, 31 May 2012

If winter comes...

Minestrone Soup with sprouts

If winter comes, er.. wait a minute! If winter comes we enjoy winter! Why think about spring now! Let’s savour the beauty of winter…

Tomorrow is the beginning of winter in Oz. This morning when I went out, there was a layer of frost on the grass, our breaths puffed out little clouds, people rushed to work bundled in layers and layers and the ubiquitous black coats and jackets and the maple trees looked uncomfortable as if they couldn’t wait to shrug off the last of the lingering leaves.

I remembered landing in Melbourne one cold winter morning with my young family. Coming straight from the Middle East and then with a month of an Indian summer behind us, we were sadly under prepared for the cold! Although numbed with excitement and adventure and tired after a long holiday and travel, the one thing that we felt was “Oh! It’s so cooooldddd!”

How time has gone by! We are already about to enter the sixth month of the year and our twelfth winter in Melbourne!

It’s time to make all the soups, one dish casseroles, pastas, risottos, Indian one dish meals like dal dhokli, bisi bele bhat, khichdis, bajra khichada and undhiyu! Can’t wait! And yes, this winter I must make the santra bhat with the yummy sunny mandarins and also the santra kheer that my friend Jaya has told me about!
And winter eating is fairly guilt free, as I tell myself that being vegetarian, we need to eat a bit more fat (read butter/ghee) to fuel up our bodies to keep warm!

I would like to welcome another Melbourne winter with this very easy, hearty  one dish meal!


1 or 2 carrots cut into small pieces
1 onion – diced
½ cup pumpkin cubes
1 cup shredded cabbage
½ cup red pepper- cut into small pieces
1 cup chopped celery sticks
1 cups mixed or any sprouts
1 cup any short pasta
1½  cup or 1 can skinned and chopped tomato
4 cups homemade vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. parsley
1 tsp crushed garlic
Sugar to taste (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley to garnish

For the vegetable stock
I hate the Maggi stock cube flavours of shop bought stock so prefer to make this at home. Boil This is one of the simplest things one can make
All or any of the following in amounts available and as desired:
Hard and slightly woody stems of cauliflower, broccoli, thick outer layers of cabbage, a handful of green beans, one medium carrot sliced, one medium potato diced, empty pea shells or a handful of snow peas, a few small corn cobs- throw them in whole and remove at the end of the boiling to serve on the cob with a knob of butter!

Wash all the vegetables thoroughly and trim them to medium size pieces. Boil in plenty of slightly salted water till reduced to half and you get a nice brown- green and fragrant broth.

For the soup

In a big sauce pan, heat the olive oil and sauté onions adding garlic a little later. Add the sprouts, veges and the stock. When it starts boiling, add the pasta and bring to a boil again. Then add the tomatoes. Keep stirring from time to time and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Add the herbs, salt, pepper and adjust the taste.
Serve hot, garnished with coriander or parsley and with garlic toasted bread.

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