Monday, January 21, 2013

Minestrone with Adzuki Beans and Kale

I always thought it was Jack and his beanstalk that had the corner on magic beans. Not anymore! Apparently Dr. Oz and like-minded health conscious folk have challenged ol' Jack with these new-kids-on-the-block-beans, the Adzukis. to me anyway. 

What are they?  Besides the darling of the macro-biotic world? Adzuki beans are are a variety of beans found in Japan, China and such. Small, dark red and packed with protein and fiber - much like any other bean - they are also said to contain the power to help you lose weight. If nothing else, they fill you up so you stay full longer. 

Do I buy it? Probably not. But after the excess of the holidays followed by Restaurant Week, I'm looking to adzuki beans to be the antidote to my over indulgence. What the heck, it's worth a shot.  (I'm only half kidding....I'm secretly hoping all this "magic" stuff is real! Note to self: get a grip!)

Traditionally in Asia, adzukis are used in sweet preparations and desserts. My friend Leah Lizarondo of the wonderful Brazen Kitchen blog told me of an adzuki bean rice pudding she makes. Leah! Recipe?! If adzuki beans are good for you, then adzuki beans for dinner AND dessert must be even better! Magic? Here's hoping!  

Minestrone with Adzuki Beans & Kale

  • 1 cup dried adzuki beans, rinsed
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, broken into pieces - WITH leaves
  • 1 large carrot, big pieces
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, You know I use Jane's Crazy Salt!

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed & diced, leave peel on
  • 1 package Italian green beans, frozen
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced across
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups kale, sliced into 2" ribbons
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • seasoned salt, to taste - maybe 1-2 T more
  • 1 parmesan cheese, rind - SAVE YOUR PARM RINDS FOR SOUP! - plus more for serving 
  • 1 cup ditalini or other small pasta - or just crush larger pasta (gluten free, of course, to make this GF)

In a large heat-proof bowl, soak adzuki beans in boiling water several inches above beans for 2-3 hours. Drain.

In a large soup pot, add the ham bone, onion, 2 celery stalks and the carrot. Cover with water until the ham bone is submerged.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer and cook 2-3 hours until the meat begins to fall off the bone.  Remove bone and meat and strain out the stock veggies.  Return the broth to the soup pot.

Add adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, potato, Italian green beans, garlic, zucchini, slices carrot and celery, kale, 8 basil leaves, oregano, additional Crazy salt and the rind of a parmesan wedge.  The rind makes all the difference in the the soup depth and flavor.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and cook an hour or so until the veggies are soft.

Add the pasta at this point.  Bring to a boil again, reduce the heat again and simmer until the pasta is tender.

Serve in bowls topped with shaved parmesan and a little fresh basil.

NOTE: You can use purchased beef broth in place of the homemade ham broth - I had a hambone and you know I don't waste it!  Use 2 boxes of broth in place of the homemade stock.  Veggie stock is fine if you want to keep this vegetarian. If you're making this gluten-free, be sure to check the label of the bought broth to be sure it's GF.
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