Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Recipe: Hearty Minestrone Soup

Hearty Minestrone Soup

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Although Spring is around the corner I am still craving big bowls of hearty nutritious soup. Minestrone is one of my all time favourites and given the chance I could eat the whole pan! I posted the above image on instagram and got a couple of requests for the recipe so thought I would share

This hearty Minestrone recipe is Vegan but can be easily adapted to suit meat eaters, or gluten free diets. I have included details of where to add the pancetta, and obviously just replace Pasta with Gluten free pasta.. simple

It really is a very simple recipe.

  • 200 g cannellini or borlotti beans, fresh or dried and soaked overnight (or a tin of beans)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves, crushed
  • Optional..... 60g Pancetta , finely chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, cut into 1cm slices
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1 cm slices
  • 1 potato diced
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato puree
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 liters of stock
  • 2 courgette cut into 1.5 cm slices
  • ¾ cup pasta shells
  • ¾ cup fresh sweet corn (or frozen)
  • 60g green beans, cut into short lengths
  • 150g Kale , Spinach or Chard
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Tobasco
  • Optional...... Pesto

1) Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water overnight. Drain and rinse (A tin of beans would work just as well)

2) Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and onion (if adding pancetta add now as well) and cook for 8 -10 minutes until softened

3)Add the celery, carrot and potato to the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, tomato, basil and drained beans. Season with pepper. Add the stock and bring slowly to the boil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1.5 hours

4) Add the remaining vegetables, parsley and pasta. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

5) Serve with a shake or two of Tobasco and crusty bread..... or a dollop of Homemade Pesto

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Wawona Tunnel Tree...

Wawona Tree, Mariposa Grove, Yosemite NP, California

In 1881, The Scribner brothers were paid $75 for cutting a tunnel through the Wawona Tree, a Giant Sequoia tree, in Yosemite National Park, CA. The brothers were hired to cut the tree which, had an existing fire scar, by Yosemite Stage and Turnpike Company to create a tourist attraction. The tree tunnel was an instant success and visitors came to be photographed driving through the tree tunnel, first by Horse and later by Automobile

The Scribner Brothers cutting the Wawona Tree

The Tree tunnel would not only direct increased tourism (and conservation funds) to the National Park but also help establish the Park Service as a noteworthy bureaucratic agency.

The Wawona tree already had a slight lean pre-1881 which was increased post -tunnel and sadly the tree fell in 1969 under an estimated 2 tonnes of snow on its crown. At the time of falling it was estimated to have been 2,300 years old.

The tree is still in place, and a tourist attraction but is now known as The Fallen Tree Tunnel, providing a mini Eco-system for insects and animals of the park.

Although the Wawona tree has fallen there still exists another tree tunnel in California called the Chandelier Tree