08 May Nonna’s Postpartum Minestrone – A delicious, sustaining soup recipe for a new mama.
The evenings are getting cooler here in the Southern Hemisphere so my thoughts turn to cooking soup for my lovely postpartum doula clients. Not only does a healthy, sustaining soup fit in with the postpartum food guidelines, but it also has the added benefit of being able to be enjoyed with one hand or even in a mug or flask. Important for a new mother who often has her babe in arms! Of course when I’m doing a postpartum visit I am delighted to have baby cuddles while mum enjoys her meal in peace (and with two hands!) but I also encourage her to keep a flask of warm, nourishing soup or dhal next to the bed or close by to enjoy as a nourishing snack in between nighttime feeds.
This recipe is based on a Minestrone cooked by my mother. I have Italian heritage so it may well have been cooked by my Nonna and Nonnon (great grandmother) too! 🙂 I’ve played around with it a bit and tweaked it here and there and you can too by changing the vegetables and herbs to use up what you’ve got in the cupboard, fridge or garden. You can also substitute the kidney beans for chickpeas or white/black/pinto beans. Occasionally beans can cause excess gas so if that’s the case for you just leave them out but usually the tins are fine and give a good boost of protein to the dish. It’s worth investing in some good quality stock (either vegetable or chicken) as that really improves the overall flavour.
The only slight problem is that I don’t have this recipe written down anywhere. It’s in my head so it’s a bit different every time I make it! When I posted it on my social media, you kindly asked for the recipe so I’m going to try my best to record it for you, remembering how I made it last night 🙂 . I’d love to hear how it turns out for you so please comment or drop me a line to let me know.
1 Red Onion
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Stick Celery
1 Medium Sweet Potato (can use butternut, pumpkin or white potato).
1 or 2 Courgette/Zucchini
Handful of Green Beans
3 Large Tomatoes (can use a Tbsp of tomato paste or tin of chopped tomatoes)
* Feel free to substitute above vegetables with what you’ve got in the fridge. Keep in mind that vegetables from the Cruciferous family ie cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and broccoli can sometimes cause gas in breastfeeding mamas and their babies and might want to be avoided if your baby is suffering with excess wind and/or a sore tummy.
2 Tbsp Olive oil plus extra for drizzling
500mls of good quality vegetable or chicken stock.
Splash (1/4 cup) of white wine (optional)
1 Tin of Kidney Beans (or substitute for cannellini, black, pinto, broad beans or chick peas)
Large handful of pasta (whatever you have but smaller sizes best ie macaroni, twirls, shells etc)
Tbsp of Basil Pesto (optional but tasty)
Large Handful of fresh herbs – I used Marjoram and Parsley but you could also use Basil or Oregano. If no fresh herbs use one tsp of dried herbs of your choice. * Set some fresh herbs aside for sprinkling on top if you have.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Feta cheese for crumbling on top and spreading on wholemeal toast (optional). Can use Parmesan too.
Finely dice the onion, slice the celery and crush/chop garlic.
Heat the olive oil and fry the onion for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the garlic and celery and cook for a minute or so until soft but not brown.
Finely chop or grate the carrot and sweet potato and add – gently frying for about 5 minutes until soft.
Add 500mls of vegetable or chicken stock and a splash of white wine (if using) for flavour.
Chop the courgette/zucchini and green beans into small pieces. Add to soup along with finely chopped tomatoes/tin chopped tomatoes or tomato paste depending on what you’re using.
Add a tablespoon or so of Basil pesto if using to taste.
Add the tin of beans (if using) that have been rinsed and drained and a handful or so of dried pasta.
Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until pasta is cooked through. You may need to adjust the liquid/stock adding more if the soup gets too thick.
Add a handful of fresh herbs or one tsp of dried herbs if using and simmer for a couple more minutes.
Season with salt and lots of ground black pepper to taste.
Serve in a bowl and drizzle a tsp or so of olive oil and scatter fresh herbs on top along with crumbled feta, a dollop of yoghurt or grated parmesan and ground black pepper. I served this with wholemeal toast that was also spread with feta but you can leave out the cheese/yoghurt if you are dairy free.
This recipe will serve 2 large portions or 3/4 smaller but you can double it up to make more. Feel free to add more vegetables and stock to make as much as you want. Just taste and add herbs/pesto/beans etc to the quantity that you want. There are no hard and fast rules.
PS: If you ARE a new mama please follow one of the ‘Six Secrets to a Slow Postpartum’ and pass this recipe on to one of your friends or family and ask them to cook it for you. Asking for help and support during these busy few weeks is so important as you do the important yet time-consuming job of caring for your new baby. You need and deserve others to care for you during this special (and exhausting!) time. Feel free to download my free e-book to find out other nurturing, nourishing ways to be supported during your Slow Postpartum here.
Jojo Hogan is an international postpartum doula and mentor and the founder of Slow Postpartum – a movement that works to educate and empower society as to the importance of honouring the postpartum ‘sacred window’ and to care for mothers and babies worldwide. To find out more or to work with Jojo to create your Slow Postpartum visit www.slowpostpartum.com.