I didn’t mean for that to happen. Truly.
I have food on the brain a lot lately. Well, pretty much always, but I digress. Lately, I have been rediscovering all of the things I love, or coming to a new appreciation for even if I thought I had fallen out of love, especially the creative things, and creating food has long been a joy. Except when it wasn’t, like when trying to feed my child with Celiac disease and food aversions.
Celiac disease means no gluten. Seven plus years we’ve been doing that, and I’m pretty much an expert. No big. But then this same child wouldn’t eat meat (texture), eggs (texture, taste, smell, you name it), or vegetables of any kind. And I do mean any kind, full stop. He was eight before we got to the point where he’d voluntarily eat raw carrots, but only if there was red pepper hummus in which to dip them. (TWO VEGGIES!) Cooking for this child has been a challenge. Sometimes it was even just a drag. The thought of trying to “go Paleo” with this kid would make me hyperventilate.
After many years of occupational therapy/Palette Broadening (yes, in caps, it has been that much of a Big Deal), and the purchase of a Kitchen Slave, aka VitaMix, my Child with the Refined Palette has become more open to foods of all sorts. He eats lots and lots of veggies, willingly even! This minestrone soup is one of his favorites, a meal he asks for by name, and there are no less than ten vegetables in it. I’ve left out the beans and pasta that traditionally make a vegetable soup minestrone, but I did throw in a rind of Parmesan, which gives this soup an incredible and delicious depth of flavor. Paleo purists, you can always leave it out, but I think it makes this soup spectacular, and since you don’t actually eat the cheese, I’m going to call it good. If you don’t have a chunk of Parmesan cheese on hand, you can purchase pieces of Parmesan rind from Whole Foods, or ask at your local delicatessen or favorite cheese shop.
Mostly Paleo Minestrone for the Child with the Refined Palette
1 medium Walla Walla onion, diced
3 cloves (or more … I love garlic, so it’s usually more) of garlic, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh parsley, loosely packed
6 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth, water, or a combination thereof
1/2 small head Savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch of kale, roughly chopped
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
2 cups Italian-style peeled, stewed plum tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
rind of one Parmesan cheese
parsley, for garnish
pancetta, for garnish
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and fresh parsley and saute for approximately 7 minutes, or until onions are translucent and carrots are starting to brown. Add broth, remaining vegetables, tomatoes, salt, pepper, thyme, and Parmesan rind. Cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Remove Parmesan rind and adjust seasonings to taste. If you have a Child with a Refined Palette, you may wish to transfer soup to a blender or food processor in batches and process until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender to process. Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkling of pancetta and a sprig of parsley. Serves a crowd, or make for lots of lovely leftovers! Freezes well, too.