We are in the middle of winter here in the UK, and it is getting really cold! It’s really time for warming, comforting soups and vitamin-packed juices. I am really interested in the idea of eating seasonally because it’s cheaper, easier and better for the environment, but I also truly believe that our environment provides us with what we need at different times of the year. In winter, it’s important to boost your immunity to protect yourself from infection (particularly important in this period of Covid pandemic) and it is also traditionally at time to rest and restore your energies after a busy year. Diet reflects this: focus on simple, veg-based recipes, lower your meat intake and give your digestive system a gentle break. Avoid consuming too much dairy, as it tends to increase mucus production. This could be a good time to try dairy free milk! My juicing machine usually gets plenty of use in the winter, and I like starting the day with a good veg- based juice. My favourite at the moment is beetroot, carrot and apple with a tiny piece of ginger.
First of all, citrus fruits are in season, and they are a good source of Vitamin C. Oranges, clementines, lemons, pomelos, blood oranges, there is plenty of choice! There is a good reason why those fruits emerge in the depth of winter: we need them to boost our immune system over the cold season.
In terms of veg, there is plenty of choice: carrots, beetroot, leeks, kale, celery, sprouts…are all in season.
My favourite winter soup (and I eat loads and loads of soup) is minestrone, which simply means ‘soup’ in Italian. It is wonderfully comforting and warming, as well as full of vitamins and minerals. You can make it pretty much with any leftover veg in your fridge, and it is very versatile. The more veg the better! I also pack mine with herbs, such as thyme, a bit of coriander and of course, basil.
Basic minestrone recipe for 2 people:
- a medium sized potato
- 2 small carrots
- 1 courgette
- 2-3 celery branches
- a handful of cannelini beans or
- a large handful of kale, chard or spinach
- a small handful of angel hair pasta
- tomato paste
- olive oil
- 1 L of veg stock (or plain water if you don’t have any!)
- Herbs: thyme, rosemary, coriander, basic…
- to serve: parmesan (optional)
First of all, soak your beans overnight if you are using dry ones.
Then cut all your vegetables in small squares. Gently fry the carrot and celery in olive oil.
Once it is starting to soften, add your stock, potato, courgette, beans, chard and herbs, add a tablespoon of tomato paste, cover and let simmer for at least an hour. The longer you leave it, the better as the broth will become more concentrated in flavour. Ideally, you would cook this soup, leave rest at night and heat up again the next day before eating.
Once your vegetables are cooked, add the pasta, mix well and leave another 5 minutes until it is cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a few basil leaves and some grated parmesan cheese for a more authentic Italian soup!