Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spring minestrone

I recently took up hot yoga.

It was a tactic to cope with stress, because as effective as drinking several tall jugs of wine every evening is, I was finding it unsustainable.

Hot yoga, if you’ve never tried it, is yoga in a large room heated to about 40C — or, as some prefer to describe it, hell on earth.

It involves ingesting large volumes of your own sweat through inverted nostrils while your muscles cuss at you. Then there’s the humiliation factor of emphatically jumping to face your right when the entire rest of the class jumps to face the left.

It is deeply uncomfortable. It makes me feel like a motor function impaired gorilla. And yet... While I’m there, sweating like a hog in heat, I don’t think of anything else. I am completely present. One might argue that inserting rusty forks under one's kneecaps would have roughly the same effect, and I wouldn’t have to pay R60 a pop for the privilege. (Can’t fault you there.)

All I can say is, I guess you either get it or you don’t — I am certainly not trying to convince you to start hot yoga. But that hour at lunch time is like the eye of the storm of my life.

(Watch now as I deftly tie the topic of yoga to the spring minestrone recipe below.)

Making this spring minestrone is a bit like yoga...

(Impressive, huh?)

... in that it requires effort and commitment.

If, that is, you are going to be shelling farmer’s market peas and boad beans yourself, as I did. You could always just get the pre-shelled ones from Woolies if you like, I won’t judge you.

This minestrone is just so good for the soul — I mean, look how green it is. You can just tell it’s pure goodness. And it tastes even better than it looks. It’s the perfect way to combine all the lovely green things sprouting all over the place this time of year. (Feel free to add whatever you like — zucchini, beans, artichokes, or even chopped potatoes, pasta or cooked cannellini beans.) I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the success of this soup hinges on the quality of the stock.

Promise me you’ll try it.


Spring minestrone
Serves 6

Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
1,5 litres good chicken, ham or vegetable stock
100g peas, podded
100g asparagus, chopped into 3cm pieces (separate tips from the woody stems)
100g broad beans, podded
100g spinach, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful each fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped
100g Parma ham or pancetta, chopped & fried until crispy

1. Add a good glug of olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed pot and add the onion and garlic. Cook gently on a very low heat until the onion is nice and glassy (make sure it doesn’t brown), about 15 minutes.
2. Add the stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the peas and asparagus stems and simmer for 2 minutes. Then add the broad beans, spinach and asparagus tips. Cook for a minute, then stir in the ham. Season to taste.
3. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of chopped basil and parsley to stir through.


  1. I loved reading about your yoga-ing. I loved staring at that gorgeous green photo.

    I am undoubtably going to be making this recipe as soon as is physically possible. I might also try the hot yoga thing...

  2. Have heard of this hot yoga thing... I am so unfit that I sweat profusely during normal temperature yoga, so I am sure I'd suffer from severe dehydration if I even attempted it. Instead, I shall simply admire and lust after that beautiful soup.

  3. Looks lovely! I'll give it a go.

  4. Looks awesome. A note for the enthusiastic pea and bean podders... you can take your huge pile of pea pods and simmer them with some leeks and garlic and whatever else you like, to make a very lovely pea stock. I did it earlier this week for a pea risotto and it worked like a bomb.

  5. I am not a yoga fan but this minestrone of fresh young veggies looks so tasty & bright green too! ;)

  6. I'm sold on the spring minestrone. The hot yoga? Not so much..Really love your blog, it makes me feel like cooking.