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Winter Warmer – Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

Below is a recipe for a vegetarian minestrone style soup that uses pantry staples. We like making a big batch of this soup. It reheats well and is excellent for leftovers. The soup uses whole unprocessed ingredients that is great for our tummies (and body). It serves a crowd. With a few changes , this soup is good for fall, winter, spring or summer (although drinking soup during the hot summers in Sydney may not be a great idea). During fall, you should find all the vegetables in the market. In winter, use a can of good quality canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. Be sure they are good quality and not over-seasoned with vinegar or salt.

vegetarian minestrone style soup

On Vegetable Broth

A well made broth is the essence of making a good soup. Here is a recipe for a basic vegetable broth to make at home. Making your own vegetable broth at home is an excellent way to use up excess veg or using all those odd ends and bits that end up being thrown.

However sometimes you don’t have a homemade broth when you want it. So don’t worry – We all buy store bought at times. But choose carefully. Few points to note here :

  • Check the labels. Avoid anything with too much sodium, gums and ingredients you may never have heard of .
  • Some of the canned vegetable broths that might be alright ingredient wise, maybe too concentrated to use. In such a case dilute it for the recipe.
  • Some bulk food stores (like Alfalfa House 🙂 ) , stock dry veg stock powders. These are mostly made of dehydrated veggies that are ground into a powder. This dry good quality veg stock powder without any additives is perhaps one of the better options than using the canned varieties of broth.

A Note on Sourcing the Ingredients for Minestrone Soup

As mentioned above, this vegetarian minestrone soup uses pantry staple ingredients. And good news – we have all the ingredients stocked in store at the Alfalfa Shop (read veggies, dried beans, olive oil, dried herbs, hard cheeses). Further this soup is a power house of vegetables, giving you more than 5 serves of veg in a single meal. Check out the below pic of our Alfalfa House shelves stocked with all the fresh produce that you will ever need for this soup. And if you are looking for a quick pick-me-up vegetable option, then order our weekly veggie box online here . Our weekly veggie box has you covered. Thereafter make a big batch of this soup with all the healthy package-free produce from Alfalfa House.That’s dinner sorted for a few nights a week 🙂

Alfalfa House Veggies In Store

If you do make this soup, please share your photos and tag us on Alfalfa House Instagram. We would love to see your creations 🙂

Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

This is a great pot of soup. Perfect to feed a crowd. It is vegetarian made using whole foods and seasonal vegetables. It can be made vegan if you skip the cheese toppings

  • 100 g dried beans (cannellini, lima, butter beans are all excellent)
  • 4-5 medium garlic cloves (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 large yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (chopped)
  • 2 medium celery stalks (thinly sliced)
  • 450 g tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 200 g zucchini
  • 100 g greens (baby kale, baby spinach or thinly sliced savoy cabbage works)
  • 1 litre basic vegetable broth (See notes in the post)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (App. 30 ml)
  • 1/2 cup small pasta of choice (like fusilli, penne, macaroni )
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
  • 15 g fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 15 g oregano (fresh or dried )
  • 30 g hard cheese like a sharp cheddar or parmesan (optional)

Preparing the Beans

  1. Soak the dried beans overnight. Atleast for 8-10 hours. Soaking dried beans and legumes not only reduces their cooking time but is also great for digestion

  2. The next day, rinse the soaked beans thoroughly under cold running water. Then put the dried beans in a large pot with 3 cups of water and 2 peeled garlic cloves . Bring the water to a boil , then lower the heat, and simmer covered for atleast an hour OR until the beans feel soft and tender but not completely mushy

  3. You can use the beans immediately if preparing the soup OR let them sit in the refrigerator for upto 2 days and use them when you need to make the soup

Preparing the Soup

  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep soup pot. Add in the finely chopped onions and remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Saute for 8-10 minutes until the onions turn translucent and begin to brown

  2. Next add in the chopped celery and carrots . Add a pinch of salt and continue to stir for around 7-8 min more.

  3. While the onion-celery-carrot mix is in the stock pot, chop the tomatoes and zucchini into small chunks. Also finely chop the greens that you are using – If using Kale remove the tough stems in the kale

  4. Next Add in the dried herbs, chopped tomatoes, zucchini, finely chopped greens and vegetable broth in the soup pot. Give it a good stir, season with salt and let it simmer until the tomatoes start to turn mushy

  5. Once the veggies are semi-soft, add in the cooked beans and pasta of choice in the soup mix. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente in the soup

  6. Ladle the soup in bowls. Check for seasoning and season with salt and black pepper as per taste. Garnish with finely chopped parsely , oregano and grated cheese. For a vegan version, skip the cheese and add in a glug of olive oil

Main Course, Soup
minestrone, vegetarian

Recipe Contributor : Adity Kaushal, (Volunteer and Member at Alfalfa House Co-op , Newtown)

She also writes all her vegetarian, healthy plant-based recipes over at the urbanfoodlover website

Or follow along her Foodie journey on Instagram @urbanfoodlover

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Cinnamon Scrolls

Cinnamon Scrolls Recipe (with Vegan Version)

Our Alfalfa House member Ivy shares with us her Cinnamon scrolls recipe. After all the baking fever that 2020 brought upon on, all the ingredients should be in your pantry right now. Further Ivy’s included the vegan version as well. She makes these feel so simple to bake. We have our ovens ready to preheat right now!

Cinnamon Scrolls

If you do bake these cinnamon scrolls, please share your creation on Instagram with #alfalfahouse

Cinnamon Scrolls Recipe (with Vegan version)

These are quick and easy cinnamon scrolls to bake. We use pantry staples (flours, yeast, cinnamon ) and have also included the vegan version.

  • Medium baking tray (approx 35cmĂ—25cm)
  • Baking paper for lining tray (optional)
  • Small bowl
  • Medium bowl
  • Large bowl
  • whisk
  • Wooden spoon or a silicone spatula
  • Basting brush

For the Dough

  • 330 g all-purpose flour
  • 60 g granulated sugar ((App. 1/4 cup))
  • 30 g butter ((See Notes for vegan version ))
  • 1 large egg ((See Notes for vegan version ))
  • 1 package  instant yeast
  • 120 ml water ((App 1/2 cup))
  • 120 ml milk of your choice ((App 1/2 cup))

For the Fillin

  • 149 g brown sugar
  • 56 g butter ((See notes for vegan version))
  • 15 g ground cinnamon ((App. 1 tbsp))
  • 5 ml vanilla extract ((1 tsp))

For the Vanilla Glaze

  • 180 g  icing sugar ((App. (1½ cups) )
  • 56 g butter ((See notes for vegan version))
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract ((5 ml))
  • 45 ml milk of your choice
  1. Combine and warm up milk and water in a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of the sugar along with the yeast. Set aside for approx 5 – 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy/frothy.

  2.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt, set aside. Melt the butter (if using oil, skip this step) ensure it has cooled down, then add to the activated yeast along with the rest of the sugar. Whisk to combine. 

  3. In a large bowl, add the yeast mixture. Whisk in the egg to the yeast mixture. Once combined add the flour little by little, switch to a wooden spoon (or spatula) when it gets thick. Mix until you get a nice tacky dough.

  4. Knead the dough in the bowl for a bit with some extra flour. This helps get the dough off the sides of the bowl. Transfer onto a lightly floured surface.

  5. Knead the dough for 8 – 10 minutes, using your hands. Use a bit more flour if the dough gets too sticky.  Coat the same bowl with a bit of oil, transfer dough to the bowl. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and allow it to rise for 1 hour

  6. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin (or a wine bottle, ensuring the lid is screwed on tight!) into a long rectangle (approx 1cm thick) and baste the top with softened butter (or oil).

  7. Combine the cinnamon, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread the mixture evenly on the dough, then roll the dough up tightly. 

  8. Using dental floss or a knife, cut the rolled dough into 12 sections. Line baking tray with baking paper (or lightly bast with oil), then place the rolls onto the tray. Cover tray and let the rolls rise for another 30 minutes.

  9. Preheat the oven to 200°C (or 180°C fan forced).

  10. Uncover and baste the tops with butter (or oil). Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes until the rolls are golden brown. Once they are done allow them to cool.

  11. While the rolls are cooling make the glaze. Combine the powdered sugar, melted butter (or oil), vanilla extract, and milk (extra milk can be added if you want your glaze runnier). Baste the glaze to the top of the cinnamon rolls and they are ready to enjoy!

For the vegan version 

  • Instead of butter use 30ml of your preferred oil in the dough, 60 ml of your preferred oil in the filling and 60 ml of your preferred oil in the vanilla glaze,. 
  • Instead of egg in the dough, use 1tbsp ground flaxseed and 3tbsp water stirred and left to thicken for 5 mins.
American, Australian
cinnamon scrolls

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Vegan Currant Upside Down Cake

One of our favourite recipes here at Alfalfa House. This is Ran’s upside down currant cake. And an added bonus – this cake is vegan, made with wholegrain flours and unrefined sugars. Guilt-free eating at it’s best! The final baked product is a moist and rich cake topped with currants. Further go ahead and make this vegan upside down cake all year round. It doesn’t rely on any special seasonal foods. After all we are using currants available in most bulk food stores like your very own Alfalfa House.

Note on The Ingredients

This cake uses ingredients that should be quite familiar to all. Except may be Kuzu Starch and/ or arrowroot powder. These 2 ingredients are commonly used in vegan baking. Kuzu root creates a starchy thickening texture and provide structure to the cakes. That is important in vegan baking. When we are missing ingredients like eggs and butter that do provide structure and firmness to cakes (besides fat).

So What is Kuzu ?

“Kuzu (Pueraria montana var. lobata) is the Japanese name for the kudzu plant and the starch derived from the kudzu root. Kuzu is native to both China and Japan. It is a member of the pea family.” Read more about Kuzu and it’s benefits over here

More Delicious Vegan Upside Down Cake

We have been busy searching for more vegan baking deliciousness. Try baking one of these, if you want more weekend baking projects!

If you do bake this cake, please share your creation on Instagram with #alfalfahouse

Vegan Upside Down Currant Slice

A simple recipe to make a vegan upside down currant cake. This cake is also refined-sugar free and uses whole food ingredients and flours. Guilt-free eating at it's best

  • Oven

For the Dry Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups white spelt flour
  • 1.5 cups almond meal ((ground almonds))
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • a good pinch of salt

For the Wet Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups sunflower oil ((or neutral tasting oil of your choice))
  • 1 cup  rice syrup
  • 1 cup soya milk
  • 2 medium zest of lemons
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

For the Topping

  • 2 cups  currants
  • 1 tbsp kuzu ((or arrowroot powder))
  • 1 tbsp agar flakes

For The Cake Base

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180° C

  2. Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl

  3. Mix wet ingredients together in a separate bowl – you see the mixture becoming thicker and as the ingredients join together and emulsify

  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together without overworking the mixture (this might be runnier than you think a cake ought to be – don’t worry!)

  5. If you are going to make cupcakes you can now spoon the mix into 12 cupcake cases in a cupcake tray and bake for 25 minutes or when poked with a skewer the skewer comes out clean (apart from a few crumbs of almond)

Preparing the Toppings (for upside down cake)

  1. Combine the currants on a low heat in a small pot.

  2. Stir in the kuzu and dissolve.  Stir in the agar flakes.

  3. Warming up this mixture is sufficient

Finishing Up the Cake to Bake In Oven

  1. Line a 12” shallow tart tin with baking paper

  2. Pour in the topping

  3. Very carefully pour in the wet mix – you will see the topping coming up and mixing with the cake mix – don’t worry about that, just be as gentle as you can

  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until when poked with a skewer the skewer comes out clean

  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes

  6. Turn out tin onto serving dish and peel away baking paper.

  7. Serve in thin cake slices – lovely with a soya yoghurt or lemon sorbet.

Australian, Baking
refined sugar-free, vegan, wholegrains
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Japanese style Potato Salad Recipe

I grew up eating potatoes every single day – my parents were Irish. Potato salad is one of my favourite things to eat.  This is a Japanese style potato salad that I found a couple of years ago. I made it for Christmas the first time. This potato salad recipe does take a little time, so I like to listen to a podcast or an interview while I’m preparing this one – Ingrid, Alfalfa House Member

Japanese Style Potato Salad

A Note on Potato Varieties

Potatoes are normally waxy or floury in texture. The waxy potatoes hold their shape when cooked . They are great in a potato salad recipe. Or maybe just boiled and cubed , then served with butter and chopped herbs. Floury potatoes on the other hand, don’t hold their shape so well once cooked and are soft and fluffy. They are ideal for mashed and baked potatoes.

For most home cooks , potatoes are a pantry staple. Use them in stocks and stews, or bake and mash the potatoes in hearty casseroles and pot pies. In Australia, we have a wide variety of potatoes to choose from. And best of all Alfalfa House stocks many of these potatoes when in season (and even some heirloom varieties that we source direct from farmers)

Further Reading on Choosing Potatoes

This link talks about different types of potatoes and when to use them

And here is A guide to every type of potato

How to choose the the right potato for your next meal

Starchy, Waxy, and All-Purpose: Potato Types, Explained

Japanese style Potato Salad

An Easy potato salad recipe. Excellent as a side dish accompanied with grilled or BBQ food

  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber ( peeled in intervals, deseeded and thinly sliced)
  • 1 small purple onion (thinly sliced)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 kg Kipfler potatoes (or any other potatoes of your choice)
  • 1 medium carrot (peeled and cut into thin half moons)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 cup Kewpie mayonnaise (I like the flavour of this mayonnaise. You can substitute any other mayonnaise of your choice.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. Toss the cucumber and onion in a little salt and drain for 15 mins.

  2. Rinse off the salt and dry on paper towel. 

  3. Bring small saucepan of water to boil and hard boil eggs – maybe 6 – 8 minutes

  4. Transfer eggs into iced water and tap the shells all over while in the water – this makes it much easier to peel the eggs.Peel and roughly chop

  5. Cook sliced carrots in boiling water for 3-4 mins, cooked and not mushy.

  6. Cook potatoes and peel while hot. Roughly chop and mash, season with salt – or not.

  7. While potatoes are still warm – not steaming hot – add the vinegar, half the mayonnaise, cucumber, onion, carrot and eggs and mix together. 

  8. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed and add more mayonnaise if required. I personally use less than a cup of Kewpie.

Salad, Side Dish
Australian, Japanese
potato salad
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What we are Reading (and Cooking)

The Gluten Free Cooking Mega List!

By Melian Jarvis

These sites are some of my favourite gluten free recipes go-tos. They are mostly gluten free, and mostly Vegan. Note that most of these sites are American, and have recipes containing oats, which are NOT considered gluten free in Australia (and Australian oats can be contaminated with wheat anyway).

Mostly gluten free & mostly vegan - my favourite recipes from the Minimalist Baker  (click through images for full details)

Mostly gluten free & all vegan - my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows  (click through images for full details)

All Vegan & all gluten free - my favourite recipes from Allyson Kramer's Recipes  (click through images for full details)

Vegan & mostly gluten free - Gluten-Free-Vegan-Girl  is an archived site but the recipes are really good.

Also Vegan Richa has a lot of flavourful plant based recipes that are inspired by the author’s Indian upbringing, including many gluten-free, soy-free, and oil-free options

Vegan, some gluten free - One Green Planet is a collection of user recipes, so quality is variable but generally pretty good.


Also - It doesn't taste like chicken a fun site that focuses on fuss-free cooking.

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