Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gluten Free Fridays: Minestrone Soup


I'm cheating a little here because I'm actually writing this post on Saturday. However, this is what I ate yesterday on Friday. No, not a cupcake, minestrone soup. I recently added gluten-free blogs to my blogroll, as cooking and eating are two of my favorite past times. Blame my Italian genes.

I am gluten sensitive. I do not have celiac disease, but personally, I don't see much of a difference. If you can't eat gluten, you can't eat gluten. I guess with my gluten sensitivity, I do not get vilely ill if I eat a little bit of gluten. I might get depressed or I might feel achey in my joints or muscles. Gluten can cause a lot of problems if you are sensitive to it, including infertility.

Gluten 101
Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, barley and oats that is responsible for making breads, pasta, and other baked goods stick together. Actually, oats itself does not have gluten, but it is usually contaminated with wheat, so unless you buy oats from fields and factories dedicated to process oats only (2 or 3 companies in US & Canada), just figure it has gluten. The oat grain and the wheat grain look almost identical, so it is difficult to process wheat grains out of oats. Wheat is slightly larger, though these pictures are not to scale:

Wheat grains

Oat grains

Modern wheat has been bred to have higher gluten contents than historical wheat varieties. Gluten is the sticky stuff that holds bread and other baked goods together. Plant breeders figure the more gluten the better, but modern wheat is harder to digest as a result. Some people can eat spelt or kamut. These are basically old varieties of wheat that have not been messed with like modern wheat, but wheat just the same. If you can't have gluten, spelt or kamut won't do either.

Interestingly enough, my little old Italian grandmother had asthma, so way back when people were not so savvy about gluten sensitivity, her progressive doctor told her she could not eat wheat, only rye. Rye has less gluten content in it than wheat.

Every Friday, I will try to include little tidbits of interest on the effects of gluten on the body. I know a lot of women who are told to avoid it if they have fertility problems. I decided to cut it out for several reasons, including mental health, digestive problems, fibroids and fertility. I recently found out I have osteopenia in my hips, which is the first stage of bone loss before osteoporosis. It's probably from all those years I had digestive problems and was not absorbing calcium properly, just another reason not to eat gluten. Enough talking, let's eat!

Minestrone Soup

I miss eating minestrone soup from a can. If you can't have gluten, you can make your own and it's much healthier than the processed canned stuff! I use gluten free elbow pasta. To date, I have not been able to find GF ditalini in the US, and I live in gluten free central. If you have the time, you can cook GF penne and cut them in half or thirds to approximate ditalini. Sorry, no picture, but trust me, it's good!

~1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp butter: substitute with ghee if you can't have dairy or omit
2 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion diced
1-2 medium carrots diced
1-2 stalks celery diced
1 medium potato diced
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste to taste
1 small zucchini
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp salt, or to taste
4 cups GF chicken broth
1 cup fresh or frozen green beans in 1/2" to 1" pieces
1 15oz can kidney beans - drained & rinsed
1 cup dried GF pasta (Tinkyada brand elbow pasta works well)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (optional) or 2 cubes of frozen homemade basil pesto
black pepper to taste
Romano cheese to top (optional)

Add olive oil, ghee, & onion to a large soup pot and saute until the onion is translucent. Add garlic about half way through this.

Add celery, carrots, potato. Saute for another 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, chicken broth, and tomato paste.

Bring soup to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-30 minutes. Veggies should be tender. In the meanwhile, start your water boiling for the GF pasta.

Add green beans, kidney beans, zucchini, and fresh or frozen basil. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. While this is simmering, cook your GF pasta separately and add to the soup after the soup is fully cooked.

Serve hot and top with freshly grated romano cheese. Yum!!

4 comments:

Clio said...

thanks for all the explanation regarding the gluten thing.
The soup sounds yummy, especially with all the snow outside. I'm vegetarian though, so I'll substitute.

Cara said...

I am soooooo grateful for your Friday post! And I look forward to much more.

I have a GF girl who has been on the diet restrictions for 8 months. She's 5 and missing some stuff!

Thanks for all the detailed into too. I've read alot, but there was stuff in there I hadn't seen before.

Phoebe said...

Dear Clio, To make the Minestrone soup vegetarian you could substitute the chicken broth with either prepared vegetable broth (which I really don't like) or increase the amount of tomato sauce, say one to two 15 oz cans total with equal amounts of water. I make a vegetarian pasta fagioli (pasta & bean soup) recipe this way.

Dear Cara, Let me know what your daughter is missing, and I can point you in the right direction. There are so many great substitutes for gluten foods these days. I really don't miss it! The dairy, well, that's another story...

Lost in Space said...

I am not a fan of minestrone soup as I can't get past the beans (LOL), but appreciate all the gluten info you shared here!